Sex; making kiteboarding safer since ~2012

kiteporn.jpg

Random social media images of kiteboarding

Up until recently, extreme sport companies had a team of sponsored riders, snowboarders, kiters, surfers and the rest. These people were performers – they demonstrated the equipment and contributed to the brand’s image.

Social media has blurred the line between producer and product. Companies now get their customers to do their marketing for them. Kiteboarders, surfers and snowboarders tag companies in their pictures, hoping to gain more traffic, to bolster and feed their personal image,

I’m a Slingshot/Burton/Billabong girl.

This is ‘late capitalism’, where products help produce their own consumers. The line between producer and consumer is increasingly a two-way street.

Yet not all extreme sports are undergoing this transition in the same way. Kiteboarding, snowboarding and surfing are all different.

Kiteboarding for instance, has changed remarkably. It’s almost impossible to find social media images or videos of female kiteboarders doing anything other just the most simple act of riding along. This is the bare minimum of kiteboarding, the snowboarding equivalent of standing up and sliding down a hill. ‘Lifestyle’ shots are now the norm, where ‘lifestyle’ involves flashing your cloaca on the daily.

I don’t really give a shit if women want to objectify themselves in this way. My main problem with it is probably jealousy – ten years ago I spent my days attempting to secure a watery death for myself in the pursuit of increasingly more difficult tricks and skills. At the time I was constantly frustrated by my lack of bravery and skill, and a niggling regard for spinal integrity.

Nowadays, as a skinny blond chick living in a photogenic place, I could achieve the same results with less kiteloops and more raw chia smoothies. I had fun back then, don’t get me wrong, but the best trick I ever learned was chucking the twin-tip and getting a surfboard. My focus has shifted, I now kite purely for fun. The last freestyle trick I pulled off was icing an octopus birthday cake (and I fucking NAILED it).

Although I stopped kiteboarding in anger years ago, I’ve remained tangentially associated with the industry. Of course, I’ve noted the rise in sex-marketing – kiteboarding is a male dominated industry. But within that I’ve noticed something else. There’s been a huge rise in Eastern European/Brazilian/South American ‘model/kiteboarders’. For some reason I feel less comfortable with these women’s images than those of their global-north counterparts.

To be sure, they’re all producing more or less the same flange-shots, but I think it feels more exploitative. The images of Aleksandra posing Playboy style on the beach, wiping a cheeky blush of sand from her perfectly formed arse-cheek feel somehow more contrived than Emma’s sunny instagram pic from Mauritius. Emma is carefree – she knows that pretty soon she’ll be back in Bristol studying vet science and getting a root canal.

To be sure, Emma’s pic feels ‘thirsty’, but Aleksandra’s is desperate.

Snowboarding is different. It’s hard to look sexy in an outfit that looks like a floor-to-ceiling sanitary pad. The snowboarding social media is dominated by images of men attempting to put their teeth through their lips. Shots of women are more or less the same.

Perhaps the lack of women’s objectification has something to do with the market – most of the top female snowboarders hail from the global north – Norway, Canada etc.,. places where women are encouraged to participate not only in life, but also extreme risk taking. Also, it’s an extremely high cost sport, which limits any kind of participation from poorer countries/women.

Both surfing and snowboarding are also somewhat professional – there are pro-tours and, in the case of snowboarding, Olympic events. Although surfing most definitely has the same cadre of young skinny women flopping about on surfboards in between strong bikini cacao enemas, there is a higher level to the sport – one which endlessly and problematically conflicts with the mainstream marketing image oriented around the multiple trajectories of the bronzed side-boob.

Gah! How can we possibly use these strong, healthy women in our marketing campaigns? What do you mean the bikini ‘falls straight off in the surf?’

I’ve got more to say about this, but I think I’ll crack into that another day.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Things we don’t talk about….

No, sadly it’s not sex. Everyone talks about sex like it’s running out.

I recently ran into a friend who has had gastric surgery to address her obesity. She was happy, very happy. Being obese saddled her with misery and social stigma, the likes of which I can only imagine.

Obesity is framed as ‘your fault’, but obesity – and by that I mean, proper obesity, not just overweight – is almost entirely the fault of something other than the triumph of the will. I’ve ranted about this before, but the idea that we are in the throes of an ‘obesity epidemic’ is often read to mean we’re a nation of irredeemable fatties.

Everyone loves a spot of moralising but we’re moralising in the wrong place.

The real causes of risk of obesity (note, I said risk, not direct cause) are pretty well known. The more fat you’ve got, the more leptin you’ve got. At a certain point you’re brain gets tired of listening to leptin and becomes resistant to its messages.

Yeah, you’re full. BORING. 

And, the more you eat, the bigger your belly gets. The bigger the top of your stomach is, the more ghrelin it produces. Ghrelin tells your brain you’re hungry.

And then there’s insulin.

Fat cells generate hormones. Getting fat is like an accelerator – the fatter you get, the fatter you become.

The answer is clear right? Don’t get fat in the first place. Step away from the chiko roll. Except what we should be saying is; step away from the baby bottle. Because formula fed babies turn into fatties before they even get a chance to puree a big mac and squirt it into a sippee cup. Their brains are set up to become fat before they can roll over. They ingest far more protein than breastfed babies. They’re hardly ever actually hungry, because formula ‘fills you up’. In other words, the amount of protein in formula makes them feel full for longer. This is why formula fed babies sleep through the night. This is why childhood obesity is such a predictor for adult obesity – regardless of what you eat, your body will tell you to eat more because you’re genuinely hungry.

It’s not all about formula. It’s food too.  Generations of babies grow up eating western food – high in protein, fat and sugar. Yeah you think they’re eating well, but actually almost all processed food has added sugar, or is processed in a way that human bodies will recognise as sugar.  Obviously, there are hard ways to address this problem – you can lose weight, a lot of it, and this will change your body chemistry, making it easier to stay thin. But it’s extremely hard. Not just ‘oh I don’t really feel like it hard’ – extremely hard nigh on impossible. 

Why don’t we ever hear about the clear link between formula feeding and obesity? Well who can breastfeed every twenty minutes when they’re at work?

Disclaimer – I was a formula fed and I turned out FINE!

The real reasons cannabis remains illegal?

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 8.55.58 AM.png

There’s been an increase in anxiety surrounding the legalisation of marijuana in New Zealand, lately, mostly due to the impending election. Medical cannabis will eventually be completely legalised, certainly, as it’s just another medicinal drug. However, the debate over medicinal cannabis is frequently conflated with legalising recreational pot-smoking/consumption.

To be clear, smoking pot is widespread and more or less tolerated in New Zealand, unless the police have some other reason to discriminate against you. Keeping marijuana illegal is just another way of giving police the discretion to arrest people they feel might be ‘trouble’.

Forget stigma, this is the main reason it remains both commonplace and illegal. Sure, there’s probably a voting block of boomers who believe that pot is meth’s aperitif, but mainly it remains illegal because it serves a convenient purpose.

The other thing I find interesting is the way this debate is playing out in the mainstream hard-left media. Apparently, the government adds fluoride to water supplies to keep the populace dumbed down and quietly apathetic. Yet the government won’t legalise marijuana?

I grew up completely surrounded by marijuana, and knew many, many MANY people who smoked it all day, every day. If you want a relaxed, apathetic populace, we should add cannabis to the water. Or the next best thing.

To be clear, this does not mean that all people who smoke pot will be apathetic loseroos, of course it doesn’t. Most people use it like they’d use any other kind of drug (like alcohol) – to have a nice time. It’s not a permanent arrangement. If there’s one thing we know, as a recreational drug for ‘sometimes use’ it’s generally well tolerated, safe and nice.

I’m not pro or anti pot – I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous, but it’s not without its risks. Changing your brain (getting high) has all kinds of effects, not matter how you do it. It all comes down to how we judge the effects.

For instance, some people think it’s fun to get a skinful and bash the shit out other people. This is their idea of a ‘good effect’. I think it’s a crap effect. Likewise, some people believe there’s merit to mooching about in your trackies all day – I’m one of them – while others think we should be contributing to the future of humankind by spending ten hours a day mining coal. Each to their own.

 

 

When the ABC does it too….

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.55.39 AM.pngEvery year or so Life Matters *discusses* preschool education for Australians. Yesterday we were treated to the wisdom of two experts, one of whom runs a preschool in Newcastle, and the other, an early childhood education researcher at Victoria University.

Australia sits near the bottom of relevant countries when it comes to GDP spending on pre-primary school aged children.

Industry experts say the number of years spent in early childhood education and care is a strong predictor of the level of performance reached at later stages, both in and out of school.

Naturally we were treated to frightening statistics. Well, one anyway. Did you know that children who attended preschool did twice as well in high school science? And did you also know that there’s almost no point in sending kids to preschool for just one day a week, they need to attend much more than that!

Let’s start with the claim that kids who go do preschool turn out better human beings. Here’s the thing, preschool costs money. Poor kids are less likely to go to preschool. Poor kids also do worse in high school generally. This obvious confounder was not even mentioned. Same goes for women in the workforce. Kids with working Mums tend to grow up and work themselves. Mum-key see, mum-key do.

Certainly, some studies show that children from highly disadvantaged backgrounds who attend preschool do better at school than their peers who don’t, but this is probably because they’re getting access to an enriching environment instead of sitting front of the TV. Spending the day in jail in an underground Nepalese coal mine would most likely improve their performance, compared to staying at home.

No matter, though, that’s just research. BORING! We all know that preschool education is awesome for all kids! In fact, some countries have now decided to do away with parenting altogether and turn the whole thing into a profession that the state pays for. It worked with dentistry!

The message from Life Matters was unashamedly biased – Australia should provide access to preschool for all three and four year olds. It helps them with their literacy and numeracy when they reach school, and teaches them how to cope in a large group.

I could go on about the multiple ways this is bullshit, but I won’t. It is, after all, a shameless puff piece engaging in the worst kind of cherry-picking to appeal to its demographic – working, predominantly middle class women who want free, full time childcare. It’s telling that for all the talk of ‘preschool as education’, the head of the Newcastle centre still referred to it as ‘childcare’.

So here’s the other side of the story; children with an enriching home environment can and do thrive when they hit school. Moreover, many children find the noise, chaos and violence of a preschool setting troubling and exhausting. Have you ever been to a preschool? It’s like someone airdropped a shipping container of methamphetamine into the meercat enclosure. However, as with daycare, stressing the shit out of small children isn’t destined to get a whole lot of government sympathy and attention.

And this is because it’s the economy, stupid. There is no longer an option for anyone to stay at home with the kids, unless you’re part of the minuscule elite. Mum or Dad must now work. Grandparents who are well enough to look after children are actually in Tuscany/Rome/Portugal at the moment. And who can afford to rent a place in the same neighbourhood as a baby boomer anyway? What everyone could do with is a spot of free childcare. And so this is the line Life Matters is pushing.

I’m not anti-preschool. My kid went to preschool, for two years, before (public) school. In the first year (at age three) my kid attended one day a week. This was all we could afford. The following year we were a little better off financially, and started going two days a week. The kid did not cope at all and was a complete wreck. We quickly pulled it back to one day a week. Of course, I’m not suggesting our experience is generalisable – unlike the radio program that entreated listeners to call in with ‘their experiences’. Did you go to preschool? How has it worked out for you? Very scientific.

But seeing as you ask….I went to preschool – it was a community run playgroup thing. We didn’t have ‘early childhood educators’ – we had a bunch of Mums in track-pants not contributing to the tax base while we tried hard to set one another on fire. It was excellent. My later high school performance can be best summed up as abominable.

Perhaps I wasn’t ‘ready’ for the classroom – didn’t have my literacy and numeracy nailed, compared to my peers. Well, this is just a comparative measure – pretty meaningless. Who cares if you can’t read when you’re six? Steiner kids don’t even start to read until someone really needs to know what’s in a packet of Cheezels. Doesn’t seem to do them much harm. Or those home-school weirdos. They seem to do rather well, actually. In fact, there are heaps of kids who do rather well outside the mainstream, homogenising school system.

Again, we’re in the mainstream school system, and it’s bloody great – our experience with the public school education system is that it’s creative, engaging and bloody good fun. It does not need to start any earlier than five though.

 

Art

Mixed media, blue synthetic wig hosts Velcro bell chain belt, hair clip, safety pins, Steve the Stegasaurus, a ball of wool, the rolly car off the gravity toy thingo, and enough dust for a thousand asthma attacks. If only it were rendered in menstrual blood. 

500 words – Technology and kids

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 8.55.41 AM.png

This kind of thing pops up on my facebook feed from time to time. This time it’s from a woman by the name of ‘mudfaery’. I am grateful for the resurgence of the term ‘faery’ –  it is an extremely quick and incisive way to delineate the type of person who is constantly amazed by the body’s ability to heal itself! I could say more. I won’t.

Anyway, apparently technology is replacing human connection, play, creativity, social interaction, gardening and the ability to eat handfuls of dirt and smash your teeth through your top lip. What is the world coming to? It’s the END. The END!

Well, yeah, if you allow your kid to spend all fucking day in front of a screen playing something really inane, then yeah, it might be a problem. But let’s be real, most of us don’t do that, and the parents who do are shit parents anyway. Tech isn’t the cause of their problems, their misuse of it is a reflection of them.

There’s something else we often overlook – technology often gets used instead of TV, and frankly, that’s probably a good thing. In the ‘olden days’ – usually a halcyon period in the 1960s fondly misremembered by baby boomers – kids got to play outside all the time. This was because no-one was allowed inside. Because Mum had been driven ABSOLUTELY FUCKING MAD BY ALL THESE FUCKING CHILDREN CHRIST ALMIGHTY GET ME A DRINK.

Nowadays children can remain inside during snow storms largely due to the advent of technologies that keep them quiet (or prevent them from being born in the first place).

We use tech in our house as chill-out time – we’re careful about the games that are on the ipad, but there’s no hard and fast rules about when or how long they can be played for. I think kids old enough to play these games (+ 6) can regulate themselves on this, in the same way they can regulate their intake of sweets. They actually can. I’ve never had to tell my kid to stop eating lollies, as long as she eats them slowly enough she can tell when she’s had enough. She usually eats a couple and stops.

Anyway, I’m over the tech paranoia – it’s making our kids way smarter in a lot of interesting ways. And they’re still playing and engaging in ‘creative play’ – which is also different to the ‘olden days’ where it involved a complete lack of supervision resulting in endless bullying or setting fire to the local library.

I think tech means kids are less bored now. They’re still bored enough to come up with their own fun, they’re kids, they’re just less bored. For the record, my kid spends more time reading books than playing with tech. As she grows older she will likely do even more learning on her ipad – she already does maths that she doesn’t do at school on the ipad. She’s learning that this kind of maths extension is fun and interesting, and she can do it at her own pace. This is a vast improvement on the good old days, when she would have been otherwise engaged pulling her teeth out of someone’s head.

 

 

 

Revenge effects

Newsflash! Australian employers encouraged to ‘retire’ casual staff at twelve months!

I woke up this morning to the news that the Fair Work Commission had accepted Union demands to give casual workers permanent work;

“If the casual employment turns out to be long-term in nature, and to be of sufficient regularity … then we consider it to be fair and necessary for the employee to have access to a mechanism by which the casual employment may be converted to an appropriate form of permanent employment,” the full bench found.

Most of my colleagues are on casual contracts, many have been for years, including myself. I’ve done the same job, for the same money for five years. Each year is covered by two casual contracts, which are zero hours when I sign them.

So you’re thinking hey this is good right? I can now ask for permanent work?

Yeah I guess that’s true except three things;

Employers can refuse the request on reasonable grounds including that…. they could foresee their position would no longer exist in the next 12 months.

First, What stops an employer from simply saying ‘I don’t think your job will exist in twelve months’?

Second, there’s casual loading in casual pay, to compensate for being casual. It’s probably about 30% would be my guess. Does this mean a pay cut? Do casuals trade permanence for less money?

But perhaps the most problematic implication is this;  employers will be penalised for employing a casual for longer than twelve months. Surely this will encourage them to replace ‘old’ casuals with ‘new ones’ to prevent them from applying for permanent positions?