28 July 2016

The silence around the Sagamihara disability murders.

This post contains graphic descriptions of violence, ableism, eugenics and murder. If you need to talk to someone, contact LifeLine on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 in Australia, or the crisis lines in your country.

This picture remembers the disabled people who were murdered in an act of terror and hate against disabled people in Japan.

Image description - a Japanese flag shedding one red tear drop. The universal symbol for disability is in the middle of the flag. The text reads 'Mourning those killed at Tsuki Yamayuri En. End hate against disabled people'. The black triangle logo, an upturned white triangle on a black background, is beside the text.

(Feel free to use this image and text for your social media profile picture.)

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a former employee of a disability care home in Sagamihara, Japan, broke into the facility and restrained then stabbed its residents. 19 people were killed, and 45 people were injured. The disability support workers were handcuffed while this happened, and escaped uninjured.

After the slaughter, the killer tweeted:

"I hope for world peace. Beautiful Japan!!!!!!"

This man then handed himself into the police. The Guardian reported:

"I did it," he was quoted as telling police officers at around 3am. "It is better that disabled people disappear," he was said to have added."

He grinned for the cameras. No remorse.

The man told friends he believed taking care of disabled people was a waste of money. How did he treat those in his "care" when he worked there?

A new Japanese friend I made on Twitter through tweeting about the tragedy shared a brave tweet, showing some people share the sentiments of the killer.

The Japanese government knew about it and they should have done more to prevent it. Would they have taken more notice if this man followed a certain religion or looked a certain way, or had a different demeanour to the way his neighbours described him? Or did the government conspire with him?

My heart breaks. I'm so sad for these people - how frightened they must have been. My deepest sympathies go to their loved ones. I worry about the way disabled people are treated all around the world.

The biggest thing that's been on my mind this week is the silence about this story.

The discussion about the murder of 19 disabled people in Japan is an echo chamber - mostly among other disabled people.

While the media is relatively quiet about this, it saddens me more that not many of you are not talking about it either. You're not upset like Orlando or Niece or Paris, Istanbul, Kabul, Baghdad and so on. (I've thanked every non disabled friend for sharing the news.)

You know, I have compassion fatigue too. The tragedies year has been too much to bear. Every day we wake up to news that makes us cry. Stop the world, I want to get off.

But this time, there is no hashtag. No public outcry. Not even prayers. When I posted about it on Facebook, people have told me they didn't know about it.

In this age of algorithmic curation, It's no wonder this isn't in your newsfeed - because no one is talking about it. Very few people are talking about the massacre of 19 disabled people. Very few people are talking about 45 people who were injured by a knife attack - how scared they must have been, wondering if they'd live, witness to the violent death of their housemates.

The idea that the lives of disabled people are worthless is not a new one. Most of my friends with disabilities have been told we should kill ourselves at some point of my life. I've been told this on a date. Others are told this by strangers. Disabled people are scared.

Forbes wrote "this is what disability erasure looks like".

The killer wrote a letter to the Japanese government in February this year, outlining his intent to kill. He was hospitalised involuntarily for two weeks, and released without charge. And then he killed 19 and injured 45. I will post his letter below.

Yet the Japan Times claimed the killer's motive would be difficult to determine.

It seems pretty clear to me. He wrote:

"I believe there is still no answer about the way of life for individuals with multiple disabilities. The disabled can only create misery. I think now is the time to carry out a revolution and to make the inevitable but tough decision for the sake of all mankind. Let Japan take the first big step."

When I and others wrote about Me Before You - that the premise was disabled people are better off dead, we were shut down, told the movie is only fictional. A man believed disabled people are better off dead and acted on it this week. 19 people are dead in an act of terror - a hate crime - and no one is talking about it. No one is calling it a terrorist attack or a hate crime either. Is it because disabled lives aren't worth as much?

This is Japan's biggest mass killing. It rivals the number of those killed in recent attacks.

And still, no one is talking about it. We only know the killer's name, his evil, remorseless smile and his horrific intent. I want to know more about the disabled people killed and injured in Sagamihara than the killer. I hope the government and media honours them. I don't think they will. (This piece is a good indication why.) And as reported today, where will the survivors even live now?

The silence is deafening. These are my people who were murdered and injured in Japan . They were hated and they were hunted because they were disabled. And I wonder when more non-disabled people will talk about it. Anyone could become disabled or have a child born with a disability, and anyone could be born in a country that doesn't care for its disabled.

To the disabled people around the world: you matter, I love you, the world needs you, you are valuable. This tragedy and media is tough, seek support if you need.

Here are some pieces of writing that articulate the tragedy much better than me.

Annie Segarra

Annora

Alice Wong

Andrew Pulrang

Autistic Hoya

Bill Peace

Cat Sierra

Dave Hingsberger

David Perry

Tessa Prebble

The Guardian

-

Here is the killer's Satoshi Uematsu's chilling letter, sourced from The Daily Mail. It contains graphic descriptions of violence, eugenics, ableism and murder. If you need to talk to someone, contact LifeLine on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 in Australia, or the crisis lines in your country.

As Bill Peace described it, "the letter is chilling. Ableism in its most deadly form."

"Dear Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima,

Thank you very much for reading this letter. I can wipe out a total of 470 disabled individuals.

I am fully aware that my remark is eccentric. However, thinking about the tired faces of guardians, the dull eyes of caregivers working at the facility, I am not able to contain myself, and so I decided to take action today for the sake of Japan and the world.

My reasoning is that I may be able to revitalize the world economy and I thought it may be possible to prevent World War III.

I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanized, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities.

I believe there is still no answer about the way of life for individuals with multiple disabilities. The disabled can only create misery. I think now is the time to carry out a revolution and to make the inevitable but tough decision for the sake of all mankind. Let Japan take the first big step.

Would Mr. Tadamori Oshima, who bears the world, use his power to make the world proceed in a better direction? I sincerely hope you would deliver this message to Mr. Shinzo Abe. This is the answer I reached after serious thinking about what I can do for humankind.

Dear Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima, would you lend your power for the sake of dear Japan and all humankind?

Please give this full consideration. Satoshi Uematsu

The Plot: It will be carried out during the night shift, when staffing is low. The target will be two facilities where many multiply disabled people reside.

Staff on guard will be strapped with cable so they can't move and can't make contact with anyone outside. The act will be carried out speedily, and definitely without harming the staff. After wiping out the 260 people in two facilities, I will turn myself in.

In carrying out the act, I have several requests. After my arrest, my incarceration should be up to two years, and please let me lead a free life afterward. Innocence on grounds of insanity. A new name (Takashi Iguro), government registration and documents such as a driver's license needed for everyday life.

A disguise for regular society through plastic surgery. Financial aid of 500 million yen ($5 million). I would like these conditions to be promised.

If you can make your decision, I will carry it out at any time. Please consider this fully for the sake of Japan and world peace.

I hope with all my heart that this can be discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, although I am sorry to trouble him in an unimaginably busy schedule.

Satoshi Uematsu"

 

 

22 July 2016

Out of office.

Hello! I've just had my wisdom teeth out suddenly and I'm not able to do much other than cocoon under the doona, mope and eat soft food. I've got about 15 pieces of writing in draft form but don't want to push myself until I'm well.

I'll be on the socials - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if you want to follow along with my swollen face and adventures in perfecting mashed potatoes.

Until I write next, take care.

 

19 July 2016

This is how it feels when you say “I don't see your disability”.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you think disability is below me.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you don’t think I’m disabled like "them".

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you’re not comfortable with disability.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", and you’re trying to focus on all my other traits, that’s ok, but please don’t forget it’s as much as part of me as my brown hair, sense of humour, sexuality, and my passion for food.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you don't realise your good intentions can still be harmful.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you often use disabled slurs and think it's ok to do this.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you don't see that you and I have different experiences of disability.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", I see your perceptions are shaped by inspiration porn and negative stereotypes. 

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you forget I have specifc needs to ensure I'm comfortable.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", I feel you're in denial.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you believe disability is a tragedy.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", my type of disability doesn’t fit into your narrow box.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you regard disability as a slur.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", it is silencing.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you don't acknowledge the richness of disability culture.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you don’t see that I am unapologetically proud of my disablity.

When you say "I don’t see your disability" and avoid describing my face as red, you think I'm not comfortable with the reality of my appearance.

When you put "disability" in speech marks, or make air quotes when referring to mine, you are silently adding "so called" to it.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you have an attitude similar to colour blindness. Just like colour blindness is racist, not seeing disability is ableist.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you are diminishing my experiences of pride, community, pain and discrimination.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you don’t see the whole me.

When you say "I don’t see your disability", you erase my identity.

I don’t want you to use euphemisms when referring to disability. Say the word.

I don’t want you to stare, point, ridicule and ask questions before you've said hello, but I don’t mind if you talk about my disability politely after you've gotten to know me.

I want you to see my disability as a part of me.

Because, when you say "I don’t see your disability", you invalidate who I am. 

I asked this question on Twitter, and here are some responses.

(Image description: red, curly-haired woman wearing all black, sitting at a table, looking into the mirror.)

Have you enjoyed this blog post or has it taught you something? Please consider buying me a drink.

15 July 2016

Thank you for 'buying me drinks'.


A month and a half ago, I set up a donate button through Paypal so readers can 'buy me a drink' if you have enjoyed my writing and/or if it's helped you in some way.

When I posted about it on the blog and social media, I didn't know how it would be received. Would people take it seriously?! Well, it's been received so positively! And people have bought me drinks! Thank you! I'm genuinely so appreciative that this little spot on the Internet does make a difference to many.

Last night I paid someone to do something for this blog - it's time it grew up and got a makeover. So your money has gone to that. I've got some ideas for a new theme. And soon I will set up a Patreon Account - I am sorry I haven't done so already. There's lots to do but the weeks fly by and the the weekends aren't long enough - so stay tuned for a different look and way to support me.

I haven't been in such a great place recently. It's nothing to be alarmed about - I'm just reevaluating what makes me happy. The stark contrast between the different types of work I do has taken its toll. I've found myself in tears on occasion, and this week I had to be alone for an hour - albeit in a fancy restaurant. My health is definitely suffering.

Music's been helping of course. This song particularly resonates - my "reason I get out of bed" is my writing, speaking, helping people.



So it's time to get planning the ways I can make my talents and passions really work for me. There's a long list of things I'm about to write about, I'm doing work for a social media client, and I got plans to collaborate with awesome people.

Thank you for believing in me. Cheers.



Did you like this post? Please consider buying me a drink!

11 July 2016

On the weight of expectations.

 

I'm not going to get it right all the time.

Even though I'm an activist.

Even though I'm an advocate.

Even though I have a disability.

 

I won't live up to your expectations.

They're sometimes lofty.

There's a standard for me, yet a standard for others.

 

I will fail you.

But the weight of my own failure in my eyes is thousandfold.

I overthink and aim to please, always.

 

I won't be polite.

I'll swear.

And get angry.

I'm not going to respond to every injustice with dignity.

Because I'm tired.

 

I'll sometimes contradict my values and what I've written previously.

You can Google, and catch me out.

But I'll keep trying my best.

 

I am human.

Just like them,

Human, just like everyone else.

As you keep telling me.

 

I'll make mistakes.

And I'll apologise when I've hurt people.

But I'll make mistakes.

Just like you.

 

 

08 July 2016

8 of the coolest podcasts right now.

                                

Firstly, big apologies for the shonky layout of this post. My blogging app on the iPad has crashed (and burned) and then it was huge work editing on the mac. Sorry. Editing is the worst.
Last week I brought you six excellent podcasts about chronic illness, disability and mental health. I hope you enjoyed them! Some of you have told me you’ve started to listen to them! Yay!
Because I honestly can’t get enough of podcasts, here are some more that I am listening to and loving. There are so many cool podcasts being released, and not enough hours in the day to listen. But podcasts are my new reading material, right, and I feel like I’m efficiently learning so much more than I would through old-fashioned reading. And I'm getting to know new people too! Are you the same
Note to Self - hosted by Manoush Zomorodi
Note to Self is a tech podcast, but it’s about how we use technology rather than the technology itself. The episodes are fairly short, and they’re super interesting. I think the host, Manoush Zomorodi, is so cool – massive girl crush on her!
I especially enjoyed the episodes about how to shake up your echo chamber, how your smartphone is eavesdropping on you and the videos that no one is watching (the Lonely Web). There was a really interesting/shocking one about how Google images made a terrible racial slur – mistakenly identifying a black woman as a gorilla. It talked through the problems with artificial intelligence. 
There are some great challenges about simplifying your life from information overload, and digital decluttering too, if that’s your thing.
How to Be a Girl – hosted by Marlo Mack and her seven year old daughter
How to Be a Girl is the most compelling podcast I’ve ever heard. There have been times I was so blown away by what was said, I cried, or stopped what I was doing to take it all in. 
It’s only a short series (and I really hope there will be more episodes), but each episode is engaging, interesting and informative. 
It follows the true, current story of Marlo Mack and her seven year old transgender daughter. I’ve learnt an incredible amount – about laws, discrimination and most importantly, how a very young person realises their identity.
The podcast series opens with Marlo talking about when her three year old child told her he was a girl. “He looked me in the eyes and told me something had gone wrong in my tummy, that made me come out as a boy, not as a girl”, Marlo reflected in the first episode. Each episode talks about both Marlo and her daughter’s experience – from finding love, friendships and being an ally, to how to know when and who to disclose to. Her daughter met Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox last year, and the episode covering the meet was so beautiful.
You know I’m not one for parents oversharing about their kids online, but this podcast is done in such a collaborative, inclusive and consenting way between mother and child that I only wish parents of disabled children could follow Marlo Mack’s way. Marlo’s daughter is as much a contributor to the podcast as Marlo. She’s so mature. And gosh they are beautiful story tellers. And her image is never used in a compromising way
After a three month hiatus, Marlo released another episode last week – it was the most moving yet. She and her daughter talk about the bathroom bill in some states America, and also a little about how private her daughter is. It told the sad story of discrimination, but also of empowerment. Just listen.
Gastropod – hosted by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

I came across Gastropod because Pip Lincolne recommended it. She always recommends things I like, so I gave it a listen.
It’s another food journalism podcast – quite in-depth and really interesting. It’s about food, but the history and science behind it. There have been episodes about American breakfasts, the history of cherry tomatoes, cheese (my favourite food!) and first foods, to name a few. I really like that this isn’t solely about cooking – it’s nice to hear.
The episode about the whale poo vomit (ambergris) was so intriguing. Gosh I want to try the stuff – apparently it’s like an exotic vanilla.
Listen
Ctrl Alt Delete – hosted by Emma Gannon


I adore this podcast. As much as I listen to podcasts to learn new things, I also listen to them for relevance. And I think Ctrl Alt Delete is one of the most relevant ones I’ve come across. It’s all about writing, blogging and social media careers.
Emma has had some AMAZING high profile guests including Liz Gilbert, Zoe Sugg, Cheryl Strayed, and Jessica Valenti. The most recent episode I’ve listened to was with blogger Olivia Purvis, who spoke so eloquently about being aware of the curated life she leads as a blogger, as well as how to manage jealousy and bitterness when you see other bloggers enjoying success. “She’s worked hard for that, maybe I should give it a go”, Olivia encouraged.
When I listen to Emma and her guests discuss blogging, online writing and social media with such enthusiasm and legitimacy, I’m reminded that I can do this too. The podcast reminds me that my side project is valid and fulfilling. It is SO good, so affirming.
Emma writes a blog called Girl Lost in the City and is releasing her first book in July.
Listen

Good Evans it’s a Bobcast – hosted by Kevin Mitchell/Bob Evans
Yay! My favourite singer has a podcast!
Kevin Mitchell (whose musical alter ego is Bob Evans – and he sang at my wedding!) launched his podcast just before the release of his fifth album Car Boot Sale – it’s a lovely album by the way!
There are four podcast episodes out so far – Kevin chats with mates (a music producer, sportsman, a musician slash radio presenter and a comedians slash radio presenter) about their favourite music. He also delves into politics. There was a really great, respectful discussion in the first episode about explaining the context of the N word in music to a young child), and the reclamation of the word for people of colour only. There have only been male guests – I do hope to hear him chatting to a female soon!
It’s funny, friendly and great to hear what makes Kevin and his guests tick. He’s such a nice guy, and this podcast really shows what an intelligent, articulate thinker he is. The fourth episode’s introduction really showed how comfortable he is as an ad-lib speaker, and all episodes demonstrate great interview skills – he’s a great listener.
I really love the accessibility that the internet affords. Through social media, podcasts and blogs, fans can interact with their favourite actors and musicians, and get to know them beyond the tabloid media. That’s what I like about Kevin being on engaging on Twitter and having a podcast.
Listen
Modern Love – hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti

Modern Love is a New York Times column exploring love. In January this year, the Modern Love podcast was launched, with actor narrators bringing the written essays to life. After each essay is read, Meghna Chakrabarti chats to the writer about their life since the writing the essay.


It’s stories about all types of love – romantic, parental, prison, adoptive, sibling. There are quite a few episodes about the love for people with disabilities and illnesses – including one between a disabled man and his carer read by Colin Firth, and another about a woman who adopted a baby in China who was born with a disability.

My favourite episode has been "The Doorman", about a friendship between a young single mother and her doorman. It is really beautiful. 
Sex, Death Sex and Money - hosted by Anna Sale


The Death, Sex and Money podcast is chock full of great stories about three inevitable things in life. Each episode is about half an hour, wrapping up a complete story within. 
The episode which drew me in was the one titled “Dead people don’t have any secrets” – where a recently widowed woman discovers her dead husband’s secret life. The funeral director episode was pretty great too – it was interesting to hear about the burnout experienced. And I loved Danielle Brooks’ episode – she’s Taystee on Orange is the New Black – such a talented woman! Most recently, I listened to Tituss Burgess from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt who spoke about his fraught relationship with his mother - she hasn't come to terms with his sexuality.
Listen
The Sporkful – hosted by Dan Pashman

The Sporkful is a quirky food podcast. As well as being funny, it’s informative – with some great episodes about Ramadan, the history of the Coney Island hotdog and burgers of the future. There are also interviews with everyday foodies and comedian foodies like Weird Al Yankovic and Maria Bamford. 
The episode that drew me in was the Serial Parody (I never liked the Serial podcast so I enjoyed this one much more!), investigating the theft of an office lunch.
Listen
If these aren't enough podcasts for you, check out my previous podcast posts here and here.
How to listen to podcasts:
Some podcasts can be downloaded (saved and/or streamed) from program websites. 
You can also download podcasts through apps on your computer, tablet or phone. I listen to mine on my iPad and iPhone. You can download through iTunes (this is how I listen to them) or other apps such as Stitcher. A list of 10 great podcasting apps for many operating systems can be found at Tom's Guide.
I listen to podcasts on iTunes, and have linked to the iTunes podcast stream for each podcast here. But I've also included the websites for all of the podcasts in this blog, so click on the links for more listening options. 
Tell me about the cool podcasts you've stumbled across. Go on, there's always room in my week for a new one! 

04 July 2016

Meeting Tara Moss and being empowered to tackle online abuse in real time.

This blog contains a censored naked photo and some aggressive language. I've posted the screen shots at the bottom of the blog so you can read the whole post and skip the nasty stuff.

If you need to talk to someone about online abuse, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or 1800RESPECT or visit ACORN. You can also contact police on 000. Google the relevant authorities in your country,

Tara Moss and Carly Findlay

 

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Tara Moss in conversation with Berry Liberman, the Dumbo Feather editor. It was part of Tara's book tour for Speaking Out - her latest handbook for girls and women. I'm a contributor to the book too!

The conversation was so smart, funny and engaging. Tara is a delight - she really knows her stuff, but is humble, and she wants to give others a chance to speak out too.

Here's a summary of the discussion, taken from my live tweets during the night.

Tara said said Speaking Out was needed to get to the bottom about issues she was constantly being asked about. She said her previous book tour for The Fictional Woman became a speaking and listening tour, hearing about tough stuff from women. The attendees of the tour asked her for this book. She wanted to give a lengthier response than a 140 character tweet. She encourages readers to use Speaking Out as a handbook. She wants readers to highlight it, scribble on it, tear pages out, if we want. "Make it your own."

Tara said women receive bullying that silences them, the type that pushes them out of the game. Sexism and racism is alive and well online, becoming normalised behaviour. Women speaking out are fatigued due to online threats and bullying. "If we let bullies win, we are all in trouble".

She reminded us we have the right to report abuse and threats, and ban and block, and call police if needed. Or, "put on the red steel if that's what works for you" - on the power of lipstick.

Tara spoke about the sexism she's encountered. In 2002 had to take a polygraph test to prove she writes her own books. Apparently a model turned author is not possible? She said the sexism she's experienced is prevalent for all women, especially around career. "The question 'can you have a career and have a family?' Is not a question that's ever asked of men", she said. Interestingly, when I tweeted this, a man jumped in defensively about his role as a father, not knowing the context of my live tweeting, I guess.

She said said before blogs and social media, everything about her was written by someone else. She didn't have a voice. But now she does. Tara wants to allow space for others to speak, particularly those not represented in public life. Speaking Out was written to encourage those who weren't invited to speak. Tara said she feels like a reporter, using her profile to do what she can to give voices to individuals and causes. But she never wants to speak for someone. "it's important I don't speak for refugees, because that happens far too often."

Tara cannot be an activist on her own. It's a team effort. Agreed. I can't either. Much the feedback activists receive is often the same, common language. It's often criticism about an activist's appearance, intelligence, weight, or telling us to take a joke. Never about the issue itself. "Fun but depressing", Tara said, likening it to "anti feminist gaslighting bingo".

She regularly reaches out to those she's never met - asking if they're ok after they've written a powerful article and are receiving criticism and threats. This has been my experience - Tara has often messaged me to ask if I'm ok.

I found it interesting to hear about the boundaries she sets for herself when using social media. She never uses her electronic devices in her pyjamas, in the bathroom or in bed as these are private spaces. She doesn't want to invite unwanted guests into these parts of her house, so that's why she chooses not to use social media in these contexts.

Through sharing her story, many people offered support and shared their stories (which is a privilege), but she has also received rape threats. At this time, Berry raised the story about the woman who responded to an unsolicited dick pic by sending a dick pic. Tara said dick (penis) pics online have been normalised, and if law enforcement doesn't intervene, we are saying it's ok. (Hold that thought, and see what happened to me later in the night. Keep in mind I was only summing up Tara's talk, quoting verbatim at times.)

Berry and Tara spent some time discussing Tara's role as a UNICEF ambassador. Tara wears many hats and she takes her unpaid ambassadorial roles just as seriously as her paid roles, spending time researching and talking with relevant people. Last year, she spent time in Syria refugee camps. Around her, families - including children - lost their lives due to unsafe living conditions. She tried to keep strong in front of the children. "It feels like a gross luxury for me to be crying in front of kids". Tara said she gets disappointed with herself when she shows her vulnerability. But she keeps that short, because it's not useful. It's not surprising that with Tara's caring nature, her five year old daughter is too. When Tara's daughter sees her crying, she asks if she wants a cup of tea, and gives her a tissue. "We need more people in the world to tell people they don't need to stop crying", Tara said.

Humbly, she said she doesn't knock it out of the park every time. "No one is perfect." Tara went on to say that when a woman or member of a marginalised group "screws up", it feeds into our unconscious bias about that group.

At the end of her talk, a number of people stood up and asked Tara questions or told their story. A young woman said that she's only just starting to own her vulnerability, that people assume she's happy because she's smiling, and that she doesn't need support. She was so brave, speaking about her mental health and not being afraid to let the room see her cry. Tara replied: "you cannot tell by looking at someone how happy or healthy they are, or how much support they need."

She was asked whether Speaking Out was a book for men, too, or only for women and girls. Tara said she was told to write Speaking Out by hundreds of women. "men can still buy the book too. Kudos to men who have read it". She shared a quick story of how it took a man to put his hand up for a woman to be heard. She encouraged men to "call it". Call out sexism and being ignored & lack of diversity. "Allow the space to have the microphone handed to them."

And then a strange - but not surprising, given the talk - thing happened. I refreshed my Twitter feed after live tweeting the conversation, and up popped a dick pick. Woah. So creepy.

I quickly showed my friend Annie, and we gasped. I gingerly put my hand up and said I've just received a dick pic after live tweeting. I told Tara and Berry this was the first dick pic I've received, even before my husband.

Tara smiled, with a glint in her perfectly made-up eye. "Let's take a group selfie and send it to him." So we did. She encouraged us to make a gesture to show him what we thought of his dick pic.

Carly Findlay, Tara Moss and Dumbo Feather audience

I tweeted the picture with this caption.

Hey @BigDave0066 we all just saw your dick pic. This is what we think.

When I replied, telling him I showed his photo to others (I didn't retweet it, but showed it to Annie and Tara, and it was public, duh), he became aggressive.

"@BigDave0066:

@carlyfindlay keep my pic between us bitch, just rate"

I felt empowered to share all of his abuse. Because this is the language Tara Moss talked about. Man sends dick pic, then: "you didnt show anyone, did you bitch?"

I told him:

"Sorry, Tara Moss! Dumbo Feather and 220 women have my back."

He kept at it until I blocked and reported him. A few people said this was a bot account, and perhaps it was, just scanning Twitter for mentions of "dick pics". Whatever the case, the tweets were designed to abuse women.

This sense of entitlement and the intrusion from him was confronting. He sent me a photo of a naked man (it might not have been him), unsolicited. I never asked for it. I never suggested I wanted one. I was never provocative. I never knew he existed until his pasty white, podgy, naked body came up in my Twitter feed. Aggression followed the photo. It absolutely confirmed everything Tara spoke about.

I've been immune to this type of abuse until that night. But friends receive sexualised photos, rape threats and death threats regularly. This is not ok.

It was awful to receive this photo - this gender focused, sexualised abuse. But at that moment, being in a room of mostly women, led by an amazing feminist, I felt very safe receiving online abuse. It was a moment of solidarity. I was empowered to tackle online abuse in real time.

And I'm so glad this was the way Tara Moss and I met for the first time. What a story to tell when we catch up again. We hugged, she signed her books for me (I bought Speaking Out for my Mum) and then we had photos. Such a lovely woman.

-

Here's what went down on Twitter.

 

 

03 July 2016

Winter days

Text: winter days. Image: pancake stack with poached pear, ricotta and purple flowers.

Gosh I love winter. Snuggly parkas, woolly hats, being a homebody and making comfort foods. As I write this, Adam's at a party and I'm under my new thick doona - a night of writing and podcasts are ahead of me.

It's been cold, though. The other day, I was so cold I wore a hat in the office. Frozen. My body does not regulate its temperature properly so I often feel colder than everyone around me.

Carly Findlay wearing a brown hat

Adam and I and some friends from Quippings were lucky enough to receive complimentary tickets to Circus Oz this weekend. It was an accessible show - including Auslan interpreted and audio captioned. And it was so amazing. Full of acrobats, music, whimsy and colour. Loved it.

Circus Oz

When not at work or socialising, I’ve been cooking and reading and generally keeping cosy. It's nice.

What I've cooked

A few weeks ago I was given a beautiful bounty of organic fruit and vegetables from The Organic Place. It was perfect for a warming winter menu.

The Organic Place vegetables

The main thing I cooked was a delicious beef and vegetable pie. It had parsnips, carrots, mushrooms, turnips and onions among the roast beef, and an unctuous gravy with red wine, sour cream and vanilla. I splashed out on fancy pastry. So good.

The Organic Place vegetables and pie

I stewed the pears with some apple and leftover fig paste for a porridge topping. I also used the rosemary for mid-week roast chicken, and the rest of the veggies were roasted, steamed and stewed.

You can get free shipping on your first order if you enter 'CarlyFindlay' at the checkout. The Organic place delivers fresh, certified organic fruit, vegetables and groceries straight to people's doors all over Melbourne on a weekly basis. Orders can be placed by 5pm Tuesday for delivery on Thursday. Fruit and vegetables are purchased fresh from the farmers market every Thursday morning, which means it is only several hours between when the produce is picked from the farm and it arrives at your door. The Organic place also offers office boxes for business, mixed bags of different sizes as well as individual items.

What I’ve read

I had to read Me Before You so I could make an informed comment about the book and movie. What a yawnfest.

I’ve also read Anna Spargo Ryan’s The Paper House which was all kinds of wonderful. So poetic. I loved every page. It's one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've ever read. Buy The Paper House here.

Anna Spargo Ryan The Paper House book

Finally, I'm flicking through a great entrepreneur development book by The Remarkables' founder Lorraine Murphy - it's given me renewed focus and energy. Buy Remarkability here.

Lorraine Murphy Remarabillity book

What I've worn

Aside from wearing my new down parka (so cosy! I've been living in merino, boots and scarves.

A few weeks ago, I stained one of my favourite dresses with cherry juice. In trying to remove the stains, I accidentally bleached it. Luckily, a colleague's daughter came to the rescue - she dyed it purple. And I love it. It goes well with this quilted jacket and hat.

Carly findlay wearing purple dress, Aqua quilted jacket, purple hat, black boots

I'm also rocking some new woollen jester slippers indoors - they're from Tara Treasures via the Queen Victoria Night Market. I need to work out my left and right, clearly.

Pink wool jester slippers

What I've written

I've been lucky to be commissioned to write two articles for SBS - career goal unlocked. I wrote the Me Before You piece and then one on growth attenuation treatment following an episode of Dateline.

The article on growth attenuation treatment for children with severe disabilities was one of the most difficult topics to research and write. I had so much to say, but refrained because I was genuinely scared of the reaction I might receive. I watched the program four times, and read the commentary on it too. Still, in 2016, many believe disabled people have less rights than non disabled people, and that it's not for anyone to comment on unless they've "walked in a parent's shoes". Thank you for all your comments and perspectives and thanks for keeping it respectful. Writing this article wasn't easy. When I was commissioned, I wondered if I was the right person to write it. I'm not a parent, not a parent of a child with a disability and my disability is a lot different to these children's. I spoke to so many people about my feelings about the topic and my fear writing it. And I'm damned with whatever angle I took - if I was in support of growth attenuation treatment or not.

But I wanted to do it justice and read up a lot about it - perspectives from parents, ethicists and disabled people.I really didn't want to put any opinion in it - because of the complex topic. I was fearful for the reaction. Overall people have been thankful for me writing it, but I've receive some angry correspondence.

I do empathise with the parents- it's a tough job and they clearly love their children. However I think better support systems rather than the drastic measure of growth attenuation treatment is needed. I also think a higher expectation of people with disabilities is needed. In my first draft (there were three) I covered a lot more of the Dateline episode, writing about how growth attenuation has helped the families.

And I've actually seen more outrage over parents piercing their children's ears than approving this treatment for a child - which to me shows just how othered disabled people are.

In my research, I came across Anne McDonald's book - click that link for a free download. It was such a wonderful discovery.

From a professional perspective - I'm glad to have written it - it certainly stretched me.

What I've been watching

Because I’ve been so sore lately, I’ve been resting, guilt-free. I’ve been watching a few Netflix series and movies – Orange is the New Black (gosh, my heart!), Chasing Life (I loved this and need to see the second series!), the Iris Apfel documentary (I adore her!) and The Fundamentals of Caring (not as bad as I thought, though I wish a disabled actor played…)

How are you? How are your winter days?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 June 2016

Happy social media day!

Carly Findlay standing against a brick wall wearing black leggings, black boots and blue floral dress

It's social media day today!

Social media has allowed previously unheard voices to be heard and unseen faces and bodies to be seen - on our terms. Blogs, podcasts and social media channels has meant that we can tell our stories and have an audience. We no longer have to rely (or grimace at) mainstream media to tell our stories – we can write and publish immediately.

We can become credible authorities on topics – and this is merely through the way we write and respond to our social media communities. I pinch myself when media publishers ask me for a quote (this happened today!), or when people ask for advice about blogging or social media. I am currently working on a social media plan for a friend – and I’ll be getting paid for it! Who would have thought?!

And social media allows us to mobilise, bringing to light issues that impact us directly, but aren’t getting the mainstream media coverage they deserve. This is especially true for people from minority communities. My personal experience has been in the chronic illness and disability community – and I’ve seen some great initiatives by people of colour and the LGBTIQ+ communities too. I was so proud with the way we drew attention to the poor practices of The Mighty, and the problems with Me Before You. I joked to Michelle from Living with Bob that sicksters are doing it for themselves. Get it?

I won’t lie – it's not always roses. I’ve felt a bit worn out by social media recently, and I've been hurt, especially since I’ve taken the risk to write more contentious pieces, which I will write about more soon. But overall, it’s been amazing. And the people who have come into my life have been wonderful.

I am so thankful for all the opportunities, networks and friendships it's brought me ❤ I wouldn't know where I'd be without it.

Happy day!

Ps: just after I published this, a blog reader whose child has Ichthyosis, sent me this.

"I Cant even remember if i told you , but yours was the first blog i read on Ichthyosis as my child was being diagnosed.

At the end were few links , i saved the page for later reference - an reopened it after 4 months.

Those links were to face book page for parents etc.

And that changed our lives.

If Not for your blog i don't know how much longer it would have taken me to find the support that i have now through that page

All credits to you and I'll Aways be grateful.

Thankyou that you take out time to write."

Thank you! I'm so glad I helped you and your family ❤️

 

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