Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Parent-Child Trust. And, How It Can Be Broken.

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BY ABBY MAC

This is my friend, Rosa*’s story:

When I was 10, I told my mum a secret. I asked her not to tell anybody. Then, a week or so later we went to a dinner party. We were all sitting at the table when my mum started telling everyone this secret I had told her. She didn’t omit my name or anyone else’s for that matter, and still continued to inform everyone at the table of this sweet, little secret I had told her. Everyone at the table thought my secret, which was no longer so secretive, to be quite amusing and they all chuckled to themselves. I did not find it amusing. Later on, I approached my mum and asked, “Why would you tell them my secret?” She didn’t think she had done anything wrong. I became angry and questioned why she would think it okay to blurt out my secret? She replied by saying that I was only 10 and all the adults found it quite cute. All those people there didn’t really care much for it and to stop fussing. It’s only a secret and you’re only 10.

A little ten year old with a little ten year old secret is no big deal, many might conclude. True, it was only a small secret to be told, nonetheless, it was a secret told to a mother from a little girl, secretly.

Girl Telling Mum Secret

This is what happened.

I have heard many friends of mine repeat stories similar to the one above, and all have affected them and their relationship with their mother/father in various ways. Though, the reason why I chose to share this story is, the failure by my friend’s mother to keep her daughter’s secret is still impacting their relationship today. Rosa feels as though she can’t trust her mother with most things, at the vulnerable age of 15. The mistake that her mother made five years earlier, is still affecting her today.

Quite a few people may view this as an overreaction, taking the same stance as Rosa’s mum that it was only a little secret. Rosa is making a big deal out of something that is relatively small and an event that you should just get over – if there was anything really to get over. Move on.

I feel very differently. Yes, a small secret. I know. But it was how her mother reacted which actually broke the trust between the two. I take the perspective that one cannot judge another for a mistake but how they recuperate or respond to it, is the true test of character. Think of a game of hockey, netball or whatever you play, if you lose the ball, it’s how you respond to your error which really matters. You can either, keep going and do your absolute best to get it back or, give up and have a sulk for the rest of the game. It’s not the event which breaks friendship or trust; it is how the person handles it after.

As my friend has admitted, she would have been prepared to move on with things if her mum had apologised and seen fault in her actions, however, she didn’t. She relayed the blame back to Rosa and made her feel bad for accusing her mum of breaking the trust. She refused to admit that she did something wrong.

Mum and daughter fighting

This is what it caused.

This is what has travelled with Rose for the past five years. This event isn’t the definitive reason why Rosa and her mum share a rocky relationship, but it was certainly the catalyst to the problems they have today. It was the beginning of their troubles. And I think this is incredibly sad. It is so sad that this mother and daughter can’t enjoy a special relationship because of something that occurred many years earlier – a mother just couldn’t admit to her faults and do better.

The relationship between this mother and daughter is not rare, but many teenagers have experienced something similar with their parents and can be the reason for their distant relationships.

It’s important to any relationship that when there are issues, fault on both sides can be identified instead of transferring it from one person to another. Rosa, apart from when she first asked her mum why she would tell her secret, has not admitted to her mother why she can’t trust her. I could only hope that if she did, her mum would take Rosa more seriously.

Today, Rosa’s mum believes that it is Rosa being a teenager and all the hormones going through their body which is the reason why they don’t speak often. Again, she’s blaming something/someone else apart from her.

Just because Rosa was 10 when it happened and the secret was only small, it cannot be underestimated the impacts that it had. Maybe it’s time as a parent to admit some fault in problems you have with your children and being prepared to listen to them. The parent-child trust is a very special aspect to the relationship you have with your child and it is something that should be cared and nurtured. When you have it, you may not know it, but when it’s gone, it’s impossible not to miss.

For teens: have your parents betrayed your trust? Is it affecting you and/or your relationship today? Have you told them why?

For parents: do you and your child have a good/bad relationship? Why?

*Names have been changed in consideration of privacy.

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When Did “Rape” Become Fashionable?

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BY ABBY MAC

Every person has either said or heard a joke around a touchy subject.  A subject that most people wouldn’t dare venture into, let alone joke about.  For a very long time, I thought one of those subjects were rape.  Other people don’t seem to agree

I have noticed, been slammed in the face with an alarming trend joking about rape.  Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  Teenagers and young adults, and I stress that I have only found it in us youths, are joking about rape.  I am usually one to try and defend teens or help to understand us a tad easier, but here I am fleeing for the hills and leaving them all on their own.  Actually, I’m more the person when has started the fight against them and making others flock elsewhere.  The plain truth is, it’s not right and it needs to stop now.  Right now.

These are the sorts of statements I hear on a daily basis.

“If you don’t give me a …….., I’m gonna rape you.”

“Oi!  Come over here or I’ll rape you.”

“I love you so much I could rape you.”

“I would love to rape your mother.”

My google search

This is what my Google search came up with when I looked for rape. Initially, “rape statistics australia” was below “rape seed”.

Yes.  Re-read.  And re-read again. I hear this every day.  Girls say it to girls.  Boys to boys.  Boys to girls and vice versa.  Sometimes it is said with insignificant intimidation but most of the time as a joke.  In fact, just on the weekend I heard a girl mutter to another girl on the sideline of the hockey game, “If you don’t score a goal, I’m going to rape you.”  Unfortunately, the girls talking were actually nice girls and it’s sad to admit that those who toy with rape aren’t just the typical people who always go over the top, but it’s being said by, to and about almost everyone.

So when almost everyone is joking and accepting jokes about rape, we create a rape culture.  The most unfortunate part of it all is while we joke and see light in rape, a horrific and mortifying criminal offence, every 152 seconds in the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted, 1 in 6 American women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. So, in context, there is a high chance and you will drop a joke about a person being raped and someone who has actually been raped or who has been affected by rape will be standing there.  Maybe they might blow up and let you know that what you had just joked about wasn’t so funny and then maybe they won’t say a thing.  And you will continue going on and making your unfunny rape jokes.

Only 20% of sexual assaults are reported to police when nearly 100% of motor vehicle thefts are reported to authorities, in Australia.  17,757 people were sexually assaulted in 2010, remembering only 20% are actually reported so really there are around 88,785 people who were sexually assaulted in 2010.

This is not a technological failure.

This is not a technological failure. I would prefer not to show the disgusting memes centered around rape, like “rape sloth”.

Now, this isn’t a story completely based on rape and hurling at you all the statistics but it is one to let you know and your friends that it isn’t okay.  I am closely connected to a person who has been raped and it is not okay to joke about what they went through.  And this goes for all the other words that you think are hilarious to use like;

“Come here whore!”

“You’re my bitch!”

“I just love you nigga.”

All of things insults demean, degrade, undermine and trivialise important events which have occurred in the world’s history like the fight for equal rights between black and white and then men and women.

 

Rape will never be and is not something to laugh at.  It hurts the victim and family and friends.  So stop think it’s funny and truly recognise what an idiot you are for thinking so.

 

Do you or have you heard someone joke about rape?  Do you really think it’s funny?  If you have been affected by sexual assault and someone does joke about it, how does it make you feel?

 

Definition:

 

Sexual assault and abuse: actual or threatened, including sexual assault and the sexual abuse of children, that can be a single incident or a series of incidents that are located on a continuum of behaviours from sexual harassment to life-threatening rape;

  • any form of pressured and unwanted sex or sexual degradation by an intimate partner or ex-partner, such as sexual activity without consent;
  • non-consensual sexual acts;
  • causing pain during sex;
  • assaulting genitals;
  • forcing or coercing a person to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease;
  • making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking explicit photos);
  • criticising, or using sexually degrading insults;
  • forcing a person/child to take their clothes off or remain naked against their will;
  • forcing a person to watch pornography or sexual activities;
  • lewdness or stalking;
  • indecent assault;
  • date rape;
  • drug-assisted sexual assault;
  • child sexual abuse or incest;
  • deliberate acts that groom children for sexual activity or exploitation ; and
  • exposure of a person/child to pornography, use of a person/child in the creation of pornography

The Way to Solve Bullying Is Not Through Awareness

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BY ABBY MAC

Through all the seminars, awareness programs and group chats at school that revolve about bullying and the urge to stop it, none have succeeded.  I am probably bursting dreams of many of the motivational speakers which have come to schools trying to convince various people not to bully and how to cope with bullying best, but the fact of the matter is; THEY’RE NOT WORKING.  I am sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, the hours spent promoting and having various “Say No to Bullying” days is not putting an end to bullying.

I have been severely bullied most of my schooling life (so far this year there has been none – let’s not jinx that) so I think it is fair that I have an opinion on this.  There are many different ways to attack the issue of bullying and each method will work better for a different victim and put a stop to the bullying faster.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” and sometimes that can be the largest problem with teachers, adults or anybody trying to solve bullying.  Approaches have to be different depending on the situation, type of bully and who the victim is.

Before writing this post, I questioned what I thought could end bullying and to be honest, I don’t know 100%.  I can provide advice and how I would have liked to seen the bullies be dealt with but they aren’t definite answers either.  Who knows what goes through the mind of someone that openly chooses to demean, degrade, criticise, inflict pain and damage another person?  Sometimes, nothing at all.  Below are a few things that I think need to be actioned more and unfortunately, more harshly.

1.       Accountability

Throughout the years that I have been bullied, not one person who has bullied me has ever had to apologise.  Not one.  Ever.  Quite frightening?  Not once have that had to admit to bullying me and apologise.  People not being made accountable for their actions means that haven’t had to see any fault in their behaviour.  It means that they aren’t being told that they’re behaviour they are showing is wrong.  Consequently, no effort has to be made by them to change.

Most time incidents of bullying has occurred, I have reported it to a teacher or if matters become worse, a year co-ordinator, deputy principal or headmaster.  Each time, they have either denied the bullying is occurring (Yes, because they would know sitting in their offices) or promised some sort of action which has never been followed through with.

Ensuring that bullies become accountable for their actions can firstly help to recognise their behaviour is wrong and in doing this, it tells them they have been caught and an excuse is not going to be provided for their behaviour.  Hopefully, this will lead to a cease in the bullying.

2.       Identifying all types of bullying

Bullying is not just punching someone.  It is not just calling them fat.  It is not just writing them a mean message.  Bullying can also be being a bitch.  At my last school, bitchiness, what the prime type of bullying I received, however, bitchiness is sometimes the hardest to identify and the easiest to cover.  Many people underestimate the power of people, particularly, girls being bitches to each other because bitchiness, is most of the time silent and adapted to directly hurt the individual intended.

Bullying is not okay

Bullying comes in all forms. And none of it is okay.

For instance, I was standing in line at school waiting for a class and a group of girls came up to our class and waved and said hello to everyone standing there.  Apart from me.  They did this every time we had that class for one and a half terms.  To an adult, it’s something you should just get over.  But when that happens every day, in front of everybody else, it hurts.  Or a group of girls playing “What Do I Hate” in class.  They were all sitting around me and it started with, girls with blonde hair, girls who wear their hair in plaits (I was wearing my hair in plaits), girls in White House (I was in White House), girls whose names begins with ‘A’.  It’s bitchy.  And it sucks.

Trying to tell an adult that them simply death staring you every time you go to your locker and following you to your next class but they aren’t in your next class, can just sound petty.  Most of the teachers I told said that I was just interpreting their behaviour wrong or for me to just grow up.  And that’s because they just don’t understand that bitchiness hurts and is hard to stop.  Identifying this and all types of bullying is key to stopping it.

3.       Why?

Most of the bullies that I have encountered they either suffer from issues at home or have reasons (not always directly linking to the victim) for why they bully.  Some have been bullied at home by parents or siblings, are acting by rumours they have heard or from friends and jealousy.  None are justifiable for the bullying but it helps to understand why.

Identifying and fixing the biggest question of all – why, is the greatest milestone of stopping individual cases of bullying.  Though it is the greatest achievement, it is often difficult to discover.  In some circumstances it is embarrassing, not yet understood or they are found out to be wrong.  As an example, in grade one I was bullied by another girl and it started because she was being bullied and abused by her mum.  Now, what she was doing to me wasn’t acceptable but it helped to explain why she was acting in the way that she was.  She clearly wasn’t cared for or had any control over her own life and so she needed to inflict the pain she was on me.

Questioning and attempting to understand the thought process of the bully can also be hard for them as speaking their reasons aloud can be embarrassing on their part.  Now, embarrassment isn’t always the solution but it aids in ceasing the bullying.

4.       Enforcing punishment and change

I don’t always source complete agreement on this point, however, I believe enforcing stronger punishment is crucial to stopping bullying.  Solving the root of bullying, which I addressed above, is the real solution to stopping bullying though this process is time consuming and in the meantime, we solve the more immediate issue with direct punishment – showing that for every action there is consequence.

As an example, I came out of the gym one day to the sports notice board.  For a couple of days, photos from our school touch football team were on the board and there happened to be one of me about to pass the ball.  As I walked out towards the board a group of girls from my team were standing around the photo of me.  When they saw me, they looked back, giggled and walked away.  The photo of me was now a photo of my body with my head ripped out and in the team photo, my face was scribbled out with pen.

Nothing happened to those girls.  The photo was simply taken down and replaced with a new one after I reported the incident.  These girls continued their parade with refusing to pass the ball to me on the field and different tactics to get me out of the team.  There was no punishment.  No consequences for their actions.  In this incidence, immediate punishment would have stopped their behaviour.  The school instigating that they will not play any games until their torments stopped.  I can almost guarantee I would have no longer been bullied if quick enforcement of the rules had occurred.

More action needs to be taken to bring an end to bullying instead of pitying the bully for the punishment that they might get or giving them one more chance when they have clearly abused the amount of rope you have already supplied them with. In cases like this, how much the victim suffers and will continue to suffer without punishment towards the bullying, is far worse than small punishment for poor behaviour.

5.       Becoming real.

Many teachers, parents and adults don’t like to believe that the perceived Good Girl is oh so bad.  As parents, I can imagine it would be hard to think that the son or daughter you brought up could not be the person that you thought they were.  Though, it is better to make small admissions and fix their behaviour than letting it continue and escalate.  At my last school, they refused to admit that girls were bullying each other and preferred to live in a perfect world of perfect people.  Such action caused the dux of their grade, most valuable hockey player, needed touch player for the undefeated team and competitor in swimming and athletics to switch to a different school.  Just because they didn’t become real.

Having pictures around the school with a big, red zero around it does not stop kids from bullying.

Bullying

These sorts of posters. They don’t help.

If schools think this is a good enough solution to bullying then they are very stupid and frankly, partly responsible for bullying.  I have witnessed first hand the commence of “Bullying Awareness Week” and having a discussion in class about actively trying to stop bullying, and kids walked out and impersonated and bullied a boy in our class.  Bullying awareness isn’t the answer.  It also isn’t completely invaluable.  It helps in some aspects of bullying, but it does not solve it.  When the world works this out, so will bullying.

Have you been bullied?  Was it fixed?  If so, how?  

Being Careful: It’s Not Victim-Blaming

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BY ABBY MAC

After recent tumultuous events involving women being violated, hurt and even murdered, a fight for women, but not limited to, to be safe on our streets, has ignited.  People from all ages, no matter what their gender should be allowed to walk down the streets at any time of night, by themselves wearing whatever clothing they choose and not be frightened of predators.  As women, we should be allowed to feel safe walking wearing high heels and a skirt, at 11:00 p.m. down a shadowy alley.  That would be wonderful.  I would never feel afraid again.  However, expecting this is unrealistic.

Girl Alone

We live in a world with many positive aspects and many rapidly improving negatives, from the fight for gender equality to environmental considerations.  We are constantly changing and with these changes, I enjoy seeing parts of our world blossom.  And as much as I would like to add to the list, women feeling comfortable on weird streets late at night, I can’t because it’s simply not true.  Sure, there might be some exceptions to this rule but generally, I stress this generalisation, I would be called a liar. 

We see horrifying stories flash on our television screens describing the despicable acts committed to women whilst trying to walk home or to their parked car.  We are then reminded of the reassuring statistics such as that it is more likely than not that, that women will sexually assaulted a male they know than a stranger.  80% of sexual assault victims know their perpetrators (Better Health Channel).  We are then falsely placed in a sense of security.  Why?  Because there is still that chance that we can be hurt by a strange man on the street.  True, right?

Being oblivious to the fact that you can still be attacked by a strange man is surely just being ignorant?  There are tips my mum and other adults have given to try and be safe on the street like holding the sharpest key between my fingers, how to stop and quickly defend myself against attacks, not wearing high heels and if I am, how to use them and other implements as weapons.  I know, I know.  Some may say slightly over the top, however, it is being equipped with the best possible plans of attacks and knowledge if I was to be put in a similar, unlikely situation.  It is not victim-blaming.  It is being real.  And living in the world that not following safety measures is your way to be a feminist or show the world that not being a victim-blamer, then you’re not being real.  

I am outraged that people suggest that women need to stop going out at night or have a drink in case a man attacks them.  There is victim-blaming.  This is where the line stops, where people suggest it’s the women that need to change than the indescribably contemptible men who commit such acts.  That is victim-blaming.  Being careful is not. 

Mia Freedman, author of mamamia.com.au, conducted a controversial interview with feminist and fellow author Caitlin Moran about the idea of victim-blaming, where the real and on-line world was erupted by their thoughts.  Outraged by their opinions.  Criticising their positions as feminists for their comments.  Here is part of the interview:

Mia and Caitlin

Mia Freedman and Caitlin Moran

“M: There was a very tragic case in Melbourne recently, about an Irish girl who was walking home from a bar, and who was married and lived 800 metres from a bar, and was walking home and was just randomly abducted and raped and murdered. And it’s really been one of those watershed moments for the whole country.

There have been peace marches, and reclaim the night marches, because it is that thing that we all fear, a woman walking alone, randomly taken from the streets, and it’s really divided a lot of women. Because there have been those who have said, “don’t blame the victim, we need to be free to walk the streets at any time, it’s men who need to be taught not to rape and murder.”

And of course it should never be about victim blaming but I worry about the idea of saying to women “don’t change your behaviour, this is  not your problem!”. I feel like that’s saying, ”You should be able to leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, or leave your front door unlocked, and expect nobody to burgle you.”

C: Yes. It’s on that basis that I don’t wear high heels – other than I can’t walk in them – because when I’m lying in bed at night with my husband, I know there’s a woman coming who I could rape and murder, because I can hear her coming up the street in high heels, clack-clack -clack.  And I can hear she’s on her own, I can hear what speed she’s coming at, I could plan where to stand to grab her or an ambush.

To be honest, I agree with them completely.  There are definitely times where victim-blaming occurs.  Where people assume that just because a woman gets raped means that she is a slut.  Definitely.  No doubt.  But helping yourself be safe is not.  We don’t live in a perfect world surrounded by perfect people who all want the best for us, so we need to stop treating it that way.  Not recognising this is simply lying to yourself.  It’s not blaming the victim.  It’s helping you not become the victim.

What is your perspective on victim-blaming?  Is being safe victim-blaming?