Sea burials for the living

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Doesn’t really narrow it down, Murray.

Several years ago I wanted to start an eco-burial business. We’d just gone through the plastic procedure of death via hospitals and funeral homes (spoiler alert; a home is actually where you live) and couldn’t escape the feeling that it could be done better. As we navigated the mechanical decency of the mourning industry, I thought; why are we treating this person like an expensive piece of furniture? I wouldn’t want to be shunted around in a level box. Does everyone else?

So I started to look into other options. There are companies that offer bush burials where the dead are buried, unprocessed, in the bush. I like the idea of mourning via nothing more than a GPS locator and a can of Aerogard. But then I realised that what I really wanted was to be returned to the sea, the place where I’ve spent many of the best times in my life. Also, there’s something deliciously ‘Checkmate!’ about being eaten by a shark after I’m already dead.

Sea burials are legal in Australia, but very rare. The difficulty lies in the planning – you must ‘dump’ the body far away from shore, in a manner that won’t have predictable repercussions (there goes Nanna’s suitcase burial).

You can read more about this burial option in a recent (beautifully written) piece by Claire Konkes.

Konkes tells us that sea burials are legal but difficult, heavily dependent on weather and location. My solution would be different, a kind of tuna farm approach, where the deceased is deposited in a cage dangling from a particularly rugged piece of coastline. The cage is then lowered to the deep, where-upon animals (mostly sea lice I imagine) would nibble away at the mortal soul, finally freeing their silicon tits and pacemakers to join the ever-expanding ocean gyre of rubbish. Landlubbing relatives could gather on the cliff edge (carefully) for a service, whilst their loved one is committed to marine grade stainless.

I think this has got legs (but not for long!).

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Gen Y; Just like Gen X but with interest

With all the media pitching and yawing about Gen Y unable to buy houses for the same reasons as Gen X only people give a fuck about them….it’s worth making the only statement that needs to be made;

Sydney house prices have risen 88% since 2009. The price-t0-earnings ratio is all you need to know. Not much can keep up with that kind of growth. Everything else is just intergenerational warfare to keep us all entertained.

As I have said before, the comes a point where growth impacts its own growth. Sydney is at the point of pole-axing itself. It is reducing itself to a hollowed out facade of banal avarice and 100% proof suburbia, a museum exhibit. I love Sydney but it’s on its way out.

You’ve been profiled

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Apparently, this is how to deal with racist, sexist and homophobic talk in the classroom. And it probably is – my insights into possible classroom management strategies begin and end with a lollies and/or a Taser. This chap Greg seems like he’s on the money. 

What’s more interesting to me is how this article ended up in my facebook feed. It was recommended by a friend, sure, but so are many other articles I read. This one however comprises a growing body of similar articles about the management of bad interpersonal behaviour appearing in my feed. I’m told that racist and sexist talk is on the rise, and, miraculously, so is the number of personal accounts of it appearing on my facebook feed. 

I’m also told, by way of framing, that this kind of behaviour is on the rise because of Trump (and/or Brexit). The idea that Trump is causing an increase in sexist, racist behaviour is stated as a given. In response to this new Trump-caused permissiveness, many women are submitting accounts of (especially) sexist treatment and abuse. Most of these accounts however, happened well before Trump scaled the greasy pole. So whar is driving this new, ‘I got groped’ internet trend?

It’s framing. Trump has become an easy catalyst for what is probably a long overdue bloodletting about groping. Why? Because it characterises him as a scumbag, on terms that almost everyone can access. No-one likes to feel impugned or assaulted, but everyone has an opinion on constitutes the experience.

Dig deep, women, think hard about all those times you’ve been assaulted. Now connect them with Trump.

On these terms, Trump is irrefutably a scumbag, an orange kernel of hatred, seeding abhorrent social injustice amongst ordinary Americans. Oh sure, I’m also told that Trump mobilises and capitalises upon the economic anxieties of predominantly white, poor people. These anxieties however are not demonstrated through personal testimonies that appear on my facebook feed. They are outside the frame of reference. 

I have no strong inclination towards either candidate, but I’m not prepared to believe that the appearance of Trump has unleashed a national, spittle-flecked descent into entitled pervery. I think, by and large, that people were probably just as racist, sexist and badly behaved as before. What’s changed is that white, middle class women have been told to feel insulted. That’s new to them. Black women are welcoming them in and handing out trail maps*. Being insulted by something simple like sexist behaviour now comes with a clear, personal connection to a candidate. In terms of marketing, it’s low hanging fruit.  

Overall, I think this is a classic example of framing and facebook tailoring my feed. It doesn’t really matter to me, as I get most of my information about the US election elsewhere. So, facebook, if you’re listening; 

 

 

 

*Not necessarily because they experience more sexual harassment, but because they definitely have, and continue to experience racial harassment.

Sewing generations

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Hey, I can see early puberty from here!

Having children ushers in a period of reminiscing so profound you could be mistaken for the Garbage Heap on Fraggle Rock. It’s become fashionable amongst the aged to claim that we’re being increasingly unmoored by technology, but I don’t think that’s the case.

I spent part of this morning parked up in front of a laptop, browsing sewing patterns with my daughter. Being a fossil hunting pirate surgeon who makes machines that distribute water/food colouring/manky flour-paste over the lounge room does not preclude frocks.

The method might have changed, but the practice is the same.

As a kid I accompanied my mother to the sewing shop, where, under bright fluoro lights, I would select a dress pattern. The pattern books were huge and positioned on architect’s tables. There was a small wooden stool for little girls to stand on while their mothers leafed through outsized pages of sewing patterns.  Tabs marked the age categories in each book – babies, toddlers, 3-4 and so on.Boys were banned from the sanctity of the dressmaking shop.

My mother would heave slabs of pages over where they would land with a whump, blowing a cool, faintly vinegary breeze into face. There was a sense of order and ritual to this almost silent activity, my mother efficiently flicking through the pages, occasionally pausing on a pattern she thought suitable,

‘What about that one?’ she’d ask, in a whisper.

‘Yes’ I’d breathe, trying to imagine how I could possibly look as glamorous as the smiling, insouciant girl in the picture who was no doubt an American and also probably swallowed bubble gum.

Fast forward thirty years and we don’t go to sewing shops anymore. I’m sure the books still exist, now firmly in the domain of hipster crafting shops where women buy $100 a metre Japanese slub linen to look like they’re wearing an Amish horse cover.

The process is the same, though. My daughter still sits beside me, cruising through patterns, asking if that’s something I could make her.

“I like that one!”

 

      

It’s OK to say ‘cunt’.

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‘I was shocked by his words. And it looked like this.’

I learned something today;  There’s a right way and a wrong way to object to someone referring to women’s ‘pussies’.

Man, am I glad I tuned in to the ABC this morning.

Apparently, the statement; “I don’t want anyone to talk about my daughter or mother as pussies”, is something that men say to defend the honour of women. It suggests ownership – that (in this case) Trump is somehow sullying a possession that isn’t his. This is the equivalent of a man saying; it’s MY pussy, not yours!  Back off!

In case you’re wondering, the correct way to deal with challenging pussy situations is to demand that women be spoken to with respect because they are women, not because they are the putative possession of a man.

Less clear is what to do if you already happen to be a  woman, but still object to the idea of your mother or daughter being called a pussy. Feminism’s removed that particular protest – see above. It’s only for men, cos you know, they own us.

This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Yeah, I get that men have a proprietary relationship with women in western culture. It exists, to greater or lesser degrees. But I don’t really think attacking men for defending women automatically suggests patriarchal ownership, no more so than any other exchange or utterance they might make about women.

And as far as Trump is concerned I think claiming his disrespect as something uniquely targeted at women comes straight out of the Hilary playbook. It’s just her PR machine getting the 17th estate (click-bait vox-pop feminism) to call Trump a tumescent fool.

Here’s the thing; this isn’t news. Donald Trump’s disrespect isn’t limited to women. He’s an arsehole to minorities, poor people, Mexicans – in fact, unless you’re a white, super-hot wanna be model with a penchant for friendship bracelets and vampire movies, he pretty much hates you.

The idea that Trump thinks poorly of women shouldn’t come as a shock. The only women he allows himself to be seen in company of are poorly upholstered sex toys. He obviously thinks this makes him look like a powerful man (rather than a desperate pervert rubbing himself in the Judy Blume section of the public library). This should tell us everything we need to know. Quite some time ago.

So why do I have to listen to three thirty-somethings on the ABC, earnestly squirming through a ‘respectful’ conversation about Trump’s misogyny?

Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m growing increasingly tired of this brand of manufactured squabbling within feminism.  It damages the cause in two ways. First, it detracts attention from more important debates we need to have about gender roles in modern life. I want to talk about work, and money and household labour and children and reproductive rights and childcare and children’s rights. These are all important feminist issues.

But it also has a more insidious effect; this kind of nit-picking destabilises and alienates those who would otherwise be engaged in this discussion. Men and women are cagey about engaging in feminist conversations for fear of falling foul of an increasingly rarified elite set of cultural mores. Self-censorship floats on top of a bubbling brew of resentment and dissent.

So as a feminist woman, I’m going to say a few things;

It’s OK for you to use the word cunt. I won’t get mortally offended if you assume I’m ‘just a mother’ or assume I don’t pay tax or can’t back a trailer. If we’re in a meeting I’ll make you a coffee but only if I’m making one for myself (I’m also a lazy feminist).I will take your sexism in good faith – I won’t automatically assume you’re being an arsehole on purpose. Of course, if you talk to me like an extremely sexist, boorish old man (this happens from time to time) I’ll make fun of you in a cruel and unfair way. (This also happens).