Inflamatory Remarks (Occasional Strong Opinion)

On Hate

When I was ten, I had pretty regular ten year old interests. I loved Whitney Houston, books about fairies, and The Golden Girls. I swapped Hello Kitty writing paper with my friends, and took a weekly class called ‘Mime & Dance’. I won the acting awards, but sucked at tap dancing. I played with Barbie dolls, adored my grandmother, and slept every night with a stuffed white bunny tucked under my chin.

Yesterday in Nigeria, a ten year old girl walked into a market place in Maiduguri with a bomb strapped to her tiny body that killed 20 people and injured roughly 20 more. The Islamic militant group Boko Haram, known for their increasing use of women and children as human bombs, are suspected to be behind the carnage. News reports haven’t mentioned the little girl’s name, but I imagine it was something pretty and lyrical in that lovely rhythmic way of African languages.

On any other day this might be front page news, provided nothing too dramatic happened in Australian sport. But this hasn’t been an easy week for the world. Collectively we’re all still reeling from the shootings in Paris, and unfortunately an innocent little soul used as a weapon of mass murder in a notoriously dangerous area doesn’t have quite the same shock value as an unexpected attack in the City of Love. Like a shooting in America, we’ve come to expect it. With a shrug of our shoulders and a shake of our head, we put our palms up in despair and resign ourselves to the world being a crazy place.

But the world isn’t crazy. Crazy is uncontrollable and unpredictable. What is happening right now is neither of those things. The Charlie Hebdo shootings were shocking, but not altogether unexpected in a city that has always pulsated with barely contained cultural divides. You can hardly say that France deserved to be attacked but in a country that has laws restricting a Muslim woman’s right to wear her burqa or hijab as she sees fit, it’s not surprising that fundamentalists would seize the chance to exploit any simmering resentment.

I don’t suppose the grandfathers of the internet could have foreseen how their invention would shrink the planet to the extent that the web has become a matchmaking site for third generation immigrant kids full of inherited resentment, and evil despots from organisations they’ve never heard of. Where Hitler rallied the troops at Nuremberg, today’s tyrannical leaders connect globally via secret chatrooms and social media.  Clichéd as it sounds, disenfranchised youth are ripe for the picking, and ancient cultural ties, however tenuous, still bind.

This ‘war on terror’ we keep hearing about is a festering, man-made mess of tyranny and hate and fear, with religious fanaticism the volatile end result.  There is so much hate behind this shit in Paris. Lunatics hating ‘the West’ on behalf of Islam, idiots hating the Jews on behalf of the Palestinians, the French blowing up mosques in an eye for an eye retaliation…maybe it’s just that I’m lucky, but I can’t fathom living with that much anger inside me. How can anyone hate anything that much? I don’t even hate cane toads or the Westboro Baptist Church that much, despite both being out to get me. Where does it all end?

Ever since news broke of the shooting in Paris, I’ve had on my mind something I remember Desmond Tutu saying on, of all things, an episode of Donahue about 20 years ago. I might not have it exactly right, but it was along the lines of “the only way to be human is to be human together; and the only way to survive is to survive together.” It’s a good quote.

I haven’t felt this unsettled by world events since the aftermath of 9/11, and I mean that sincerely. I don’t know how we realistically go about fixing these problems, but I do know this: if ever there was proof that hate is a stupid unproductive emotion, this week is it. Hate is lazy and ignorant and easy.

Trying to understand and respect each other might be harder, but there’s less dead bodies at the end of it.

Yoko Ono Endangered Species

Yoko Ono
Endangered Species

Religiophrenia

So…is it time yet to classify religious fanaticism as a mental illness more along the lines of delusional schizophrenia in order to seek therapy for it, or do we continue to treat extremists just a little differently to other lunatics because they’re acting in the name of religion and that is somehow different?
And while I’m thinking about it…why does that only apply to crazies acting in the name of Islam? Two Catholics going on a rampage wouldn’t lead to declarations of war from Presidents or reminders that not all Catholics are terrorists; it’d lead to us all saying “fucking nutjobs” and perhaps an analysis of their past and what made them do it. During The Troubles in Ireland, we knew it wasn’t all Catholics and all Protestants who acted with violence. Why do we pussyfoot around some & not other religions?

I don’t get it, but I’m not sure I want to.

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The Gertie’s G20 Drinking Game

– Tony Abbott gets drunk and acts like the worlds’ most embarrassing uncle at a BBQ: dunk your head in a keg of VB, it can’t get any worse.
– You see someone wearing their G20 all access pass outside of the exclusion zone: top shelf, A grade scotch, two chunks of hand chipped ice.
– Held up by a motorcade carrying the assistant to the assistant of the guy who shook Obama’s hand: lemon, lime and bitters (you’re driving).
– Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff asks where the restrooms are, isn’t seen again until Monday morning: one whole bottle of cachaça.
– King Abdullah mistakes Campbell Newman for his chauffeur: order a white wine spritzer and hang your head in shame.
– François Hollande and Matteo Renzi overheard comparing the size of their “planes”: a bottle of Australian red, just to annoy them both.
– A friend expresses surprise that Turkey is invited: glass of rosé.
– Shinzo Abe takes Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife to karaoke at the Brunswick Hotel after one too many frozen margaritas: there’s no such thing as too many margaritas, have another one.
– Lord Mayor Quirk asks Park Geun-Hye how his flight from Toyko was: find Tony Abbott and congratulate him for not being the most embarrassing uncle after all. Share a shandy with him.
– Protesters overthrow the Convention Centre and turn it into a rave party: two litres of bottled water, followed by a tantrum on Tuesday.
– South Africa is here as well? Sheesh, have a Captain Morgan’s and tell me how this G20 thing works again?
– Xi Jingping and Mariano Rajoy caught goosestepping behind Angela Merkel: crack a Lowenbrau.
– Obama fails to recognise Stephen Harper, leader of Canada: oopsie daisie, best break out the moonshine.
– David Cameron bets The Falklands in a game of late night poker, loses to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina: two pints of warm lager (actually, make that three).
– Narendra Modi tweets a photo of Barnaby Joyce holding a pineapple tart with the caption “who’s the fruitcake?”: double rum and coke. Bundy, of course.
– Vladimir Putin is seen leaving The Wickham in the early hours of Sunday morning: Wet Pussy shot.
– Indonesian President Joko Widodo takes one look at all of them, decides he doesn’t want to be in politics after all: champagne for you sunshine, you’ve got a reason to celebrate.

Written for Gertie’s Bar & Lounge

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Brave to the Bone – for The Big Smoke

Brave to the Bone – for The Big Smoke

Here’s a little piece I wrote for a new publication out of Sydney, The Big Smoke…

From The New Yorker

From The New Yorker

Unavailable Tampon Syndrome

It’s two days before my period is due and as usual my mood is hanging somewhere between moderately frustrated and thoroughly homicidal. This month however it’s not PMT that’s the cause of my irritation, but another lesser known disorder called Unavailable Tampon Syndrome, or UTS. Most of you won’t have heard of it because…well…I just made it up, but the seriousness of the condition should not be underestimated.

UTS occurs when the only pharmacy you’ve found within a 20km radius that sells the only tampons you can use decides not to stock them any longer. Some lucky women may never suffer this affliction, and others may only have to confront it once or twice in their life, but if you’re anything like me you come to anticipate it on a monthly basis along with all the other joys of menstruation.

In my case UTS is caused by the increasing difficulty in finding stockists of Tampax Super Plus tampons (and yes I know that just gave you more information about my menstrual cycle than you were hoping for, but I promise whatever you’re imagining isn’t as bad as the reality often is. I hope that makes you feel better). For the last three years I’ve been UTS free as my local pharmacy has always had a supply of Tampax Super Plus on hand, sitting on the shelf gathering dust until I trundle in with my abnormal uterine bleeding every four weeks.  

It had been going so well. Where the supermarkets and corner stores had failed me, I could always rely on this one chemist to carry them. Once a month, as soon as my tits began to feel like watermelons, I’d duck in for my usual 30 pack of Nurofen Plus and two boxes of Super Plus. I’d go home, drug up, plug up and spend the next four days contemplating a hysterectomy. Too easy.

Yesterday all that changed. Standing in the feminine hygiene aisle desperately scanning the shelves, I felt myself relapsing. There were regular tampons, super tampons and light tampons (pfft, who uses those?!) There were organic cotton, fluro wrapped and easy twist open tampons. There were even slim ones, which I guess is good if the other styles make you look fat. But nowhere to be seen were the Tampax Super Plus tampons. Even worse, there wasn’t a space on the shelf where they should have been.  I knew where this was leading. Unavailable Tampon Syndrome.

Obviously my stunned expression was noted by the staff, because I was soon asked if I needed help. “Where are the Tampax Super Plus?” I asked in a way that I hoped disguised my alarm. “Oh, they’ve been discontinued by the manufacturer” said the guy serving me, a gay boy I know socially but not well enough for us to be totally relaxed discussing heavy periods. He was no doubt wishing he’d taken more notice of where I was standing when he offered his assistance, and desperate to cease discussing sanitary protection immediately. Clocking my look of disbelief, he followed up with “that’s solid information.” He was trying to act like he cared, but the curled lip and backwards step he took upon realising he was discussing things of a menstrual nature betrayed him, and I’m pretty sure as soon as I left he was texting all his friends about how close he came to actually having to deal with a period. Apparently there are some aspects of being a woman that even the campest man just doesn’t want to embrace. When he asked why I couldn’t just use the Super tampons I decided it was easier to leave than go in to the finer details of my flow with him, and frankly I was ready to suffocate him with a packet of overnight pads anyhow.  

In a total flap, I went home and panic bought $157.00 worth of tampons online from the only website I could find that had them in stock, and paid an additional $20.00 for urgent delivery. I know this seems like over reacting but panic buying before disasters is human nature, and trust me when I say that the 2011 Brisbane floods have nothing on the sort of flooding that can occur from my beaver dam. Eventually I contacted Proctor & Gamble to ask them for clarification, and received a reply assuring me that Tampax Super Plus were most definitely still being manufactured. I bloody well knew it.

I am not trying to be difficult, but to have to beg pharmacies to stock something that is essential is annoying at best. To be lied to about why they’re not stocking them is downright insulting. I don’t choose to buy Tampax Super Plus tampons because I get off on buying the biggest, most expensive tampon available; I have a medical condition that requires them. Of course I’d prefer to use the pretty little bullet shaped ones everyone stocks because they’re compact and easily hidden and come in bright colours, and I can buy the fucking things everywhere including petrol stations. Unfortunately, that is not how my body works.

I understand that Super Plus tampons will never be the bestselling item in the Tampax range, not every gal can be lucky enough to experience the sheer joy of a heavy period. But that doesn’t mean the women who require them cease to exist. And the most frustrating part of all of this isn’t the fact that they are so hard to buy. It is that on almost every occasion where I’ve enquired whether a pharmacy stocks them, a female assistant has said to me she would buy them too but she didn’t know they existed. It makes me wonder just how well Super Plus tampons would sell if women knew they were an option. Perhaps it’s time for the chemists of Australia to consider that a full range of tampons is slightly more important than a full range of Revlon nail polish?

As for the guy who told me they’d been discontinued? I can’t wait to drop a Tampax Super Plus in his drink next time I see him out. Just wait until he sees how much liquid those suckers can hold!

 

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An Open Letter to Tony Abbott’s Daughters

Dear Louise, Bridget & Frances,

Hi girls. You don’t know me but I know you. Only from TV of course, but I still feel an affinity with you. I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. I guess it’s pretty hard to stay anonymous when your dad’s running for Prime Minister, hey? It’s just that I’ve been watching these past few months as you’ve stood loyally beside him, and I really feel the need to reach out to you and say you’re not alone – I too have an embarrassing dad.

I know all too well what it’s like to have a loose cannon for a father, although I admit from the outset you girls have it way worse than I do. My dad isn’t in the public eye. No one other than my mother and brother generally hear the daft things he comes out with, unless he’s saying it on facebook. Oh god, there’s a thought. Your father doesn’t have an account does he? I can just imagine what he’d be like commenting on your photos:

 “Hey Lou, what boat did that Asian mate of yours come in on? Must‘ve been on Julia’s watch. LOL!”

“Bridget, is that your boyfriend in the pink shirt? LMAO, poofy much?!”

“Franny, is that guy wearing a Jesus Is My Homeboy t-shirt? OMG! WHERE CAN I GET ONE???”

No, you need to keep him well away from facebook. Social media and embarrassing dads go together about as well as teenage girls and Bacardi Breezers. They get silly and uncontrollable. I learned that the hard way, trust me. My father now has his own fan base amongst my facebook friends because he’s always divulging personal information about my formative years. They think its endearing; I think its grounds for patricide. I should probably block him altogether now I think about it. But I digress.

My point is I know what it’s like to cringe in anticipation every time your dad opens his mouth in public. I know what it’s like to tense up when an obviously gay waiter serves him in a restaurant, or when the bank teller is Asian and asking too many questions. I know that overweight people are like a red rag to a bull, and women in burkas are…ugh, let’s not go there. Having an unpredictable maniac for a father can be so damn mortifying, can’t it? I know there’s an unwritten rule that dads are supposed to embarrass their daughters any chance they get, but some put more effort in than others. I’ve wanted the ground to swallow me up on more than one occasion. The day dad told a ‘woolly woofer’ joke to two blokes not realising they were actually a couple was a highlight, as was the time he mistook a man’s wife for his mother and made some comment along the lines of “what time do you have to have her back at the home?” Groan. The man needs a muzzle.

It’d be easy to write them off as old farts from another generation, but your dad’s 20 years younger than mine. I guess that actually makes my dad pretty groovy by comparison, seeing as he supports marriage equality and believes women are capable of making informed decisions about their reproductive systems without state or religious intervention. Maybe a life of ardent Catholicism has aged your dad prematurely. All that altar wine can’t be good for you. Thankfully my dad has never actually described my virginity as “a precious gift”, although he has jokingly offered cash incentives to any bloke who can successfully put a stop to my lesbianism. At least I think it was a joke. Who can tell? Dad jokes are seldom actually funny. And I don’t think he’d even know there’s a vaccine available for cervical cancer, let alone actively seek to discourage me from getting it (just on the virginity thing – did your dad even know the status of your virginity at the time? I mean, I tell my dad virtually everything, but we’ve never had that conversation).

Look, I know your dad’s not all bad; I’m sure neither of our fathers actively set out to offend. But the difference is mine does occasionally give the impression of not wanting to insult people. I’m not sure ol’ Tony’s ever bothered to concern himself with what’s considered offensive. I mean that thing he said the other day about marriage equality being “radical change based on the fashion of the moment” as opposed to a matter of human rights was a real doozy. Guess that’ll make for a pretty interesting Christmas lunch if your aunt’s there this year, huh? Even worse than the Christmas my dad told a ‘curry muncher’ joke in front of my brother’s Sri Lankan girlfriend. Oh, the memories… 

And then there’s that thing about turning back the boats, despite the majority of Australians wanting to see a refugee solution that’s far more humane. We all know he must have been joking when he said it because no one in their right mind would think that was smart policy, but it made him sound like he’d just flown in from 1954. Surely he’s not that out of touch with the rest of the country?

Even the day my dad inexplicably gave the finger to a couple I’d waved at seconds prior because he assumed they were friends (they were actually clients, but even so, who spontaneously gives the finger to strangers?!) pales in comparison to Tony’s sex appeal comment. Good thing Mark Latham waded in to the fracas with an even bigger clanger. Lucky that dude only has sons!

You have got one up on me though. You’ve managed to convince your dad not to wear the budgie smugglers in public, whereas I’ve never been able to convince dad his Speedos aren’t a good look. God knows what it will take to get my father out of them. Scissors, probably.

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My father. Like I said, I feel your pain.

Anyway girls, my advice is to try not to let it get the better of you. A lot of us have complete nutters for fathers, minus the ever present media attention of course. Which I guess actually points to the fact that none of us really have any idea what it’s like to be you. Except perhaps Jessica Rudd. You  wouldn’t believe the crap her dad puts on twitter…

Best of luck reining the old boy in between now and September 7,

Carrie

Uncle Charlie

Heard the one about the drunk old aborigine and the blonde barmaid? It goes a bit like this:

I have a bar in a neighbourhood known for its eclectic mix of locals. Originally an Italian area that got a bit gritty with dosshouses and squatters, it’s now gone way past being gentrified and is one of the most expensive, sought after suburbs in which to live. Even so, there’s enough of the old incarnation to keep it a pretty interesting mix, and it’s close enough to the main nightclub area that there’s always the seedier element of city living hanging around the streets.

For the most part, I find the characters highly entertaining. I’ve seen hookers brawling in the middle of a traffic intersection, fixed in a turf war death match that resulted in one broken handbag, a ripped skirt and a bleeding nose; I’ve had a junkie who wanted to know if the reason I wouldn’t serve him was because he’d left his specs at home; I’ve watched a pregnant hooker get more clients than all the others; been robbed by ratty little kids whose getaway vehicle was a foot propelled scooter; overheard endless drug-addled conversations about needing to buy a packet of smokes; caught a drag queen in a Marge Simpson wig & eight inch heels pissing in my outdoor ashtray, and a 70 year old disabled tranny with rainbow hair, eye makeup that looks like he’s been attacked by toddlers wielding paint guns and an assortment of plastic beads around his neck tells me at least three times a day that he wants to take me home to his boudoir. I’ve seen more male genitalia in the last four years than I have the previous thirty-two years, and I’ve disturbed a prostitute giving a bloke a quick blow job between my wheelie bins. What can I say? It’s a romantic life. There is one character that stands out more than all the others though. His name is Uncle Charlie.

Most people know Charlie; the local police and social workers certainly know him. I first met him when he stumbled down the street and decided to perch on my window ledge with a crumpled cigarette and a Tooheys longneck, much to the consternation of the patrons already seated in that window. I went out to move him along, only for him to get me in a headlock and drag me halfway down the street. When I finally got out of his grasp, I’d lost a diamond hoop earring somewhere in his big, white beard. I never did get it back. It was a fairly dramatic introduction to him, but for some reason we’ve developed a kind of friendship despite it.

Charlie is in his late sixties, although he looks much older, with a massive mess of white hair and a scruffy white beard. If Santa Claus was indigenous and had been on an alcohol-fuelled bender for twenty years, he’d probably look like Uncle Charlie. Occasionally someone gives him a haircut and trims his beard, and he looks great. Handsome, even. I’ve noticed his shirts are generally pretty nice, well ironed and clean, although his jeans are always the pits. And he is always somewhere between very drunk and comatose.

Uncle Charlie’s been banned from every pub in the area, even the really dodgy one up the hill that’ll serve any old derelict. He can be a handful. He likes to shout and call passers-by “bastard cunts”, and he’s always pushing people to see how they’ll react to his presence. He used to cause me a few dramas too, but one night I caught a glimpse of something soft and funny in him and realised it was all a big act. I told him he was full of shit and should give it a rest. Just when I thought he was about to take a swing at me, he broke into an amazing smile and let out a huge belly laugh.

“Ahh, sista. You’re alright.”

He realised I wouldn’t put up with his bullshit, but he also knew I’d seen a bit further than his obnoxious behaviour normally allows.

That was a couple of years ago, and he’s never caused me any drama since. He visits fairly regularly, always at the end of a night when he wants a chat. And it always starts off the same.

“You gonna let me in, my friend?”

“Maybe Charlie, how drunk are you?”

“You being a racist cunt?”

“Don’t be a dickhead”

He laughs, comes in and shakes my hand. He’ll do his best to get a free beer out of me, but he has to pay like everyone else. Then we sit and talk.

Initially our conversations were nonsense, him rubbishing on about what he’d done during the day, and trying to shock me with stories I knew were bluster. Then a shift occurred. It was like I’d passed his test and was now to be trusted. One night he decided to tell me about his life and how he got to be a drunk, old bum. Bugger me if Uncle Charlie didn’t turn out to be one of the wisest, warmest, most thought provoking people I’ve ever spoken to.

Charlie’s been around. He’s travelled all over Australia, and can rattle the names of towns he’s passed through off the top of his head as though his brain wasn’t screwed from too much alcohol. He fell in love with a woman from somewhere in the Northern Rivers area, but stuffed that up by being a drunk. He had a brother he was very close to who died in a car accident, an event that became the catalyst for Charlie’s drinking. He never got over it. He has a huge scar down his stomach from where he tried to kill himself while driving drunk some time thereafter, and he’s got a bit of bone missing from his skull. I’ve felt it; it’s as disgusting as it sounds. He never tells me his stories looking for sympathy; they’re always relayed with a shrug and a “that’s life” kind of feeling. He tells me them simply because I’m listening.

But last time he was in, he really floored me. Bored with talking about himself (“why you gotta be so curious about me, woman?” he blasted when he was sick of my questions, and the answers he had to give) he turned his attention to my life.

“I been watchin’ you. You work too hard.”

“Oh, yeah. But I’m the boss. I’ve got to do it.”

“You workin’ for the man. Don’t do it.”

“Charlie, I’m the boss. I work for myself.”

“I know you the boss you stupid bitch, but you not workin’ for yourself. You not happy sista.”

He was right. It’s a complicated story and not one that needs retelling, but I do what I do out of obligation, and it doesn’t make me happy. Blinded by alcohol as he often is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with his skills of perception. He’s seen enough to recognise a few things in people, and for all his drunken antics, he knows what he’s talking about. That night proved to me he deserves to have his wisdom heard. It was pure luck that Charlie broke through my prejudices and proved to be more than just another derelict I had to deal with, but he’s made me think about where I’m headed nonetheless.

He reckons he’s going to Darwin when the weather gets a bit warmer. I’m certain he’s talking rubbish, but on the off chance he’s not, I can honestly say I’ll miss the silly old ratbag. It can be a lonely life, being self-employed and working nights, knowing there’s no one to go home to. He’s provided me with decent company and a refreshing view of humanity on more than one occasion, and it does make me wonder just how much knowledge we miss out on as a society by discounting that people like him have anything of value to offer us.

Mostly though, I just shake my head in wonder at the anomaly that is Uncle Charlie. I always watch him as he trundles off home, zigzagging down the road. Even on the nights when he leaves pissed off that I won’t serve him because he’s too drunk, I am rewarded with a wave and a cheeky grin as he turns the corner. The man is too damn charming for his own good.

I suspect that’s half his problem.

by caz.

Marriage Equality, Let’s Get On With It.

Fifteen years ago I was on a Qantas flight approaching Auckland when the pilot came over the loud speaker to give his final address before landing. As he signed off, he came out with

“Ladies and gentlemen, local time is 3pm. Don’t forget to set your watches forward three hours, and your calendars back 30 years.”

New Zealand jokes, I’ve heard a few. I was a Kiwi joke myself for a while. Despite emigrating to Australia when I was only a few months old, I spoke like quite the little New Zealunder by the time I reached primary school – and my classmates showed no mercy. I was constantly teased for the way I said pool, or dancing, and just generally considered a bit ‘thuck.’ I still get ribbed when people find out I was born in Gisborne. Extracting the urine from Kiwis is a national pastime in Australia, even I do it, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to make those jokes without sounding like a massive one yourself. The haberdasher’s on the main street of Oamaru may still have the same fabric in the window that they did in 1961 (true story, ask my mother) but New Zealand is a lot further ahead than Australia in other areas.

Despite a persistent reputation as the world’s wallflower, New Zealand has been quietly proving itself as the thinking person’s nation. They were the first country to give all women the vote, and the first country to elect an openly transsexual politician to office. They declared themselves nuclear free before any other nation, and they had a female prime minister thirteen years before Australia got there. Last week’s vote to allow amendments to the marriage act, thereby making them the first country in the Asia Pacific region to achieve marriage equality, is only the most recent of a long history of socially progressive decisions. Yet Australia still thinks of New Zealand as a naïve little cousin.

A friend pointed out this week that Australia has appropriated so many of New Zealand’s best exports – Kimbra, Crowded House, Phar Lap, pavlova – but seems unable to adopt even a little of their social awareness. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d happily return Russell Crowe and Rebecca Gibney for just a slice of New Zealand’s commitment to social inclusion.

We’re pretty proud of our laconic, larrikin reputation, but it doesn’t get much done, does it? The footage of New Zealand parliament’s overwhelming vote in favour of marriage equality has been broadcast all over the world, despite it being a week that included the Boston Marathon bombing, and ongoing tensions in Iraq leaving 119 civilians dead. Julia Gillard said she was “unmoved” by New Zealand’s ruling, but she must have been the only one who was. Juxtaposed against the footage of people running injured in Boston or lying on makeshift hospital beds in Iraq, the five minutes of footage of New Zealand politicians embracing openly lesbian MP Louisa Hall as the public gallery broke spontaneously into a version of Poekarekare Ana seemed to transfix the world.  To me, that shows the planet is desperate for more acts of love, respect and inclusion and less focus on what divides us all.

If ever we needed proof that our national predilection for apathy is no longer working for us, this is it. We’re busy taking the piss out of Julia Gillard’s jackets, but not her stubborn inability to learn and adapt to the changing world around her. What’s New Zealand doing? Oh, they’re just making genuine changes that improve the lives of their less equal citizens.

It’s time we got serious and started to demand more than wardrobe changes from our politicians. As a nation, we’re in danger of looking like a social backwater. Nothing highlights this better than our current stance on marriage equality. The latest data shows 64% of Australians believe marriage equality should happen; it is ONLY the politicians standing in the way. If we really wanted to do something about it, we could. We actually could. Those of us who believe in equality are no longer the minority, but we’re allowing ourselves to be represented that way.  With the exception of a very small group of highly motivated activists, our commitment to changing the existing marriage laws goes as far as clicking yes or no in an online survey, but armchair protesting can only take an issue so far. If we’re not willing to get off our arses and really force the issue en masse it won’t happen.

The overwhelming reaction to marriage equality is that most people are sick of talking about. I’m sick of talking about it too. We need to stop acting like a mother nagging her kid to clean their room, and simply put our collective feet down. Enough is enough. Everyone needs to get involved in this, not just the GLBTIQ community. We need our families and our friends, and the wider community, to step up and show their support. Basically we need that 64% to become highly, and undeniably, visible.

We also need to stop clutching at economic straws, such as what gay marriage and the pink dollar will do for the economy, because it’s detracting from the real wrongdoing. Equality should not be reduced to financial reasons. I should be allowed to marry a woman because I love her, not because a politician can see financial gain in it. For someone to tell me I’ve been granted a basic human right solely on the basis of economy doesn’t make me respected. It makes me a commodity. The “Gay Bridal Registry” may well end up a lucrative by-product of marriage equality, but it shouldn’t be a main reason for doing it. That’s like only getting married for the presents, not the lover.

If we can do that, then as far as I can see there’s nothing stopping us from joining New Zealand. Well, except one. We need something to sing in parliament too, a song that’s Australia’s answer to Poekarekare Ana, because I’m pretty sure the old “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” thing just isn’t going to cut it.

by Caz.