A Xenophobic Pandemic

6 Oct

I’ve just become Australia. Now let’s hold the applause and excitement until after I’m finished. This new identity in my life is a great honour, but also comes with an unsettling feeling that sinks in my stomach. Becoming Australian means that there was a before, a before when I wasn’t Australian. My before was British and for me this has led to very little discrimination. Although my other before is immigrant, or the kinder less loaded word, migrant. You might not consider me an immigrant, especially with a first language of English, white skin and any other ideals that make me ‘acceptable’ to the general public.
Keeping this in mind I still always feel like the ‘fuck off we’re full” bumper stickers must have a percentage aimed at me, especially as I’m part of the 25% of Australians who are born overseas.

I’ve definitely found over the years I’m mostly immune to the hatred that comes with immigrants though. People will sometimes comment about me being a Pom. A term I deplore by the way, yet no one has ever told me to go home or made me feel like I don’t belong in Australia. I’m sure my other fellow immigrants have received this more than once or twice for the colour of their skin or the nature of their religion.
This displaced sense of xenophobia is rarely seen as someone screaming in the street. It’s at the moment fairly subtle, in stickers in cars, Facebook posts and in jokes at the expense of those who are already marginalised.

My main exposure to the xenophobia building in Australia has always been that people speak casually about their grievances. I saw this first working as a pizza delivery driver. I would often take or deliver orders, this would be met with customers expressing how glad they were I could speak English as a first language, or that I wasn’t this nationality or that nationality. This put me in an awkward position, the light hearted nature of the conversation makes it hard to speak against. I’d also been put on their side from the get go, even though I was an immigrant. In the customers eyes, I stood against the immigrants with them, maybe this was to do with my whiteness, or English being my first language, I don’t really know.

This tide of Xenophobia worries me more so now than it did before, mostly because I’ve seen it before. In the United Kingdom where I am a citizen also, the people are very anti everyone. Not only Muslims, but anyone from other countries are attacked in the media and by the general voice of the masses as the enemy. This fear of the other really created a horrible idea that being British is best, and that there is a pride to be taken in being better than other human beings. This unpleasantness probably stems from people believing that things like the National Health Service and welfare only belong to those who are born lucky, and not those who flee persecution or life saving treatment.  This is another topic I feel strongly about, but not really the point of this overall commentary.
This overall sentiment may be coming to Australia soon, and I hope I’m wrong about that, because the state of things in the United Kingdom have definitely made me less than proud to be British, I’d like the chance to be proud to be Australian.

Just as a little sign off note, if I haven’t yet convinced you, or if as I expect I’m preaching to the choir. If you want to consider who is really committed to Australia, remember that a lot of countries don’t offer dual nationality. While I made my commitment to Australia, I got to remain a British citizen. Other migrants, immigrants or whatever don’t get the choice. They commit fully to Australia, knowing that they just might not be able to ever return to their country of origin.

#HeForShe – Adopting feminism and women in power.

24 Sep

The He for She campaign is really important to me.  Now I’m sure most of you would know I’m considerate of equality as a given, but it wasn’t always this way. I probably didn’t really have consciousness on the issue until the last few years. Regretfully I made comments towards female friends telling them they couldn’t be Prime Minister because they were women, and while statistically this was true, it was also oppressive. Looking back on it now I didn’t know better, yet this isn’t an excuse, I was an idiot. Societal sexism was the bread and butter to my world, even if it was hidden. I definitely got upset when women wouldn’t date me because I was a nice guy, and as the trope goes, women only date bastards and fiends. Yet again not true, women date people who treat them like people and not trophies for the most part.

I digress within my own failings though, I wanted to get back to the whole Prime Minister thing. My fear now is that my stigma against women in power at the time is shared by many others. Margaret Thatcher is to date the only female Prime Minister in Britain and I’m sure if you asked a large majority of people who the least popular Prime Minister was, they’d probably pick her. Furthermore we had the primary battles for Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2008. A battle between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. After Obama won the primaries there was a ‘joke’ going around that America had finally decided who they’d rather run the country, a black person or a woman.  This speaks volumes about the type of people making such commentary. Then again, it’s not the first time we’ve heard rhetoric about what happens if the female world leader PMS’ and launches nukes or starts a war. Yet we don’t consider most violent outbursts of aggression are on the whole caused by men.

Now to an Australia Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. While her rise to power was fairly cut throat, her time in office was brutal. She was picked at by the media in every way possible. Her lack of children, her partners sexuality and even her own body image. Finally the media got to attack Julia more on the gender she represented than evaluating her policies and politics.

I think these cases alone can show why the He for She campaign is important. If women in power can be picked apart and made to seem weak, then how does the everyday woman feel. The cat calling on the street, the fear of attack by a drunken man and the sense she has to dress conservatively because it might draw in unwanted eyes. Even further than that, how do we feel about women without any power to protect themselves, women whose society controls and binds them, who will speak for them.

In the end I agree with what Emma Watson said in her speech to the UN. This is a man’s problem and it’s time we addressed how we treat women. It’s time we treated them like human beings. I’d like to see a world where we teach about people like Emily Davison alongside the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. I’d like to think we can bring equality to everyone in the world, and hopefully make feminism a less dirty word.

Journalist’s disappointed at not getting arrested in foreign countries.

27 Jun
Journalist outcry as they are kept safe and boring.

Journalist outcry as they are kept safe and boring.

 

The Union of Foreign Correspondents this week have submitted a complaint to World News Australia on behalf of their journalists based in the Western world. London foreign correspondents report that their journalistic integrity has been worn down to 24/7 Royals coverage. The UFC demands a reshuffle for fluff piece journalism, with journalists to be flown straight to Iraq, Egypt and Afghanistan to get a real taste of the action. Jeremy Snide of World News Australia had this to say;

 

“All I want is to be in a news situation where someone will shoot at me, or I might get arrested for opposing the fascist government, is that so much to ask for?”

Snide went on to say that he’d even jeered at the Queen in passing to try and get incarcerated, but all he received was a caution from local police. “If this was Egypt, they would have locked me up, maybe even sentenced me to death.”

These sentiments arose from the recent incarceration of Peter Greste in Egypt. Some journalists claiming, “What a lucky bastard, I bet he wins some awards once he gets out.”

The Amazing Spiderman – A cautionary tale on bullying.

12 May

The second Amazing Spiderman movie is pretty much a glorified anti-bullying campaign. To start with this is going to be amazingly spoiler filled, so stop reading now, if that bothers you.
Okay now it’s just us who have seen the movie or don’t care. The first case of bullying comes when Richard Parker decides he doesn’t want to build terrible biological weapons for his evil boss. Unfortunately in this universe, you can’t just leave your job, you have to run away from your life and eventually be hunted down and murdered, because a job is for life, and not just for Christmas it would seem.

So Richard Parker is dead leaving Spiderman fatherless. I mean Peter Parker. Now Peter gets bullied by Flash Thompson in his school years. Peter doesn’t even stand up to Flash until he has super powers. It’s not enough for him to be brave, he has to know he can absolutely destroy him. This only sets unrealistic standards for school kids these days. Like really, where am I going to get a batch of venomous magic spider venom that won’t instantly kill me.   

Now onto how the whole movie revolved around the bullied turning into bullies. The main villain of Spiderman 2, Electro, started off as some awkward engineer at Oscorp. No one even recognised him, and he really cherished Spiderman saving his life. Even after the accident where he becomes an electric god, he is still mostly worried that he’ll hurt people. In the first encounter with him and Spiderman, he almost gets talked down too. Then the police shoot him and all hell breaks loose, because why even bother assessing a threat from a person who shoots lightning from his body, surely a bullet will solve this right away.  

Following Electro’s fall from grace, we have Harry Osborn. His dad just died, and his whole board of directors hate him. Sure he pushes their buttons, but the kid is dying from some sort of super illness. He’s also 20, and his good looks fade away as his skin starts to burn away in front of him. He seems nice enough though, he has fun with his childhood friend Peter Parker throwing stones across the water, all the while, his evil board of directors plan to overthrow him.

Now when this move comes, it happens just as Harry finds out his cure to dying is actually owned by his company. These director bully types are definitely not keen on letting this 20 year old live though. Sure they’ve removed him from the company, but it’s definitely the typical bully to take every single thing from the victim. Just die in the gutter I suppose Harry, better luck next time. Then guess what happens, he comes back with the other super bullied villain and kills everyone. Followed by becoming the Green Goblin once he gets the stuff he asked for so nicely beforehand. So far, we have a whole bunch of people bitter at their bullies and turned into super bad guys from it.

All in all, the whole Spiderman films just feel like a super positive anti bullying campaign. Stop bullying, you never know when that weedy kid from Science class will become the next unstoppable god that destroys your city. 

Wine Theory

4 May

When it comes to buying wine, I have a system. Now when someone says they have a system, you expect them to be a card counter, who wins big at the casino. This obviously isn’t that. My system is a lot more unhelpful when it comes to making your life better, but it might save you a few dollars. I probably should have mentioned earlier, that this system is for amazing, cheap wine.

The first move is to go to your local alcohol emporium. There you should be able to skim straight past the expensive wines, and the wines from all the well known wineries. We aren’t looking for some fancy label with the best calligraphy in the world. No sir! Today we are looking for something to take a chance on. A goofy, risky venture is what I take each time I go to my boozery. I search the shelves for illustrated bottles. These bottles generally have deals to start with, and this time I find a bottle with paper cranes and it’s two for $12. Obviously paper cranes aren’t the key here, most of the time it’s just a strange illustration, or a wine with a name so grandiose that people would never even believe it could be good.

Going up to the counter, knowing you’ve already won big. It’s basically the same rush as cashing out. Some may get nervous at this point though, worry they’ve misread the price on such a sweet wine, they might act the same way a kid with a fake ID would, so the key is confidence. If you do it right the cashier smiles are you, doesn’t even ask for ID, because they know you’re a hustler. You’ll hand over your coin and leave with your prize.

This system does have a large flaw to it, and the same as my gambling habit on the roulette table, it only works when you place your faith in red. White wine seems to be a mystery I’ve yet to crack. With this in mind, and with all the stages but the last finished, you have to taste the wine. The only thing I demand of you is this. If wine theory works for you, share the myth, explore your findings, maybe even do an academic study on the piece. I look forward to being a footnote.

The Runaway Car.

3 Feb

As I drove home today I thought, ‘I have literally nothing to write about for my blog.’ Shortly after that my battery light came on in my car and everything went downhill. Metaphorically of course, it would have been scary if it had been literally. So one after another, everything began to fail. The radio crackled and I switched stations hoping I was just in a bad reception area, then that died. Following this the car lost all its gauges, first the petrol, then the speedometer, then everything. I was driving blind and I knew now that my car was going to die.

Setting the scene some more, I had just dropped someone home after work and was only a few minutes from my home. I was lost with nothing to guide me but my knowledge of driving and hope that my car could make it. With each corner I could feel the car giving up and I got closer road by road. Finally I made it to my road, turning in I let a sigh of relief out, and then she died. The car jerked and threw me forward, and I spent a minute cursing while wondering what there really was to do.

Standing out in my road, only two hundred meters or so from my home, I felt like a marathon runner in his final minutes. The flaw here obviously being marathon runners don’t have cars that weight over a ton, nor are they unfit 23 year old guys like myself.

Back to the story, I’m on the road and I wave down the first person I see driving. A fatherly figure pops out of his car and tries to give me a jump. With each surge to car bursts into life and bluntly dies again. I suddenly realised this must be what it’s like when trying to resuscitate people, except yet again, this was a car and not a person.

Yet again, off topic, but this all seemed important for raising tension. We finally got the car into neutral as it locked itself previously until we gave it a few hits of quick lightning. The car rolled slowly forward and it was going smoothly, but very slowly.

The fatherly figure then went to his car and died a rope between our two cars. We jumped into our vehicles and I was pulled fast towards the end of my journey. As I approached my house I realised my breaks didn’t work and spun my wheel to avoiding smashing his car and quickly applied the hand break leaving my car sprawled across my entire drive way.

I thanked the man and then called for some more professional help. After the exchanging of monies and a man turning up to tell me what was wrong, they took my car away to the mechanics.

So while I have something to be posted on my blog now, I also imagine a large bill will be coming my way very soon.

Dating sites are really weird.

13 Jan

To start with, dating isn’t easy, but since the invention of the internet, we’ve had internet dating. Not that this should be taken without a pinch of salt, or actually, quite a lot of salt. Most of these sites are either collections of clicking yes or no on people to whether you find them attractive or not. Think that thing Mark Zuckerberg made in The Social Network before Facebook.  These are your basic sex hook up applications and sites that hide under the guise of allowing you to know the person once you’ve decided if their looks are more important than any level of intellectual worth.

Following from this, some websites have questions. The best of these go from anything from deep questions, about sex, love and animal preference to the more obscure. While you’re being asked if you prefer coffee or tea, you might also be asked about fetishes and occasionally a question on what a quotation from Romeo and Juliet means. That wasn’t an exaggeration by the way, that actually happened on one.

The horrifying questions are normally set up like this, “Would you be happy if your partner hated a race different to your own.” More worryingly is that you can check peoples profiles to the answer of this question and most people would allow for lifelong bliss with a racist. Nothing says love like white supremacy, or so I’m told.

I’m sure most people’s connections with dating sites is very limited and wouldn’t get to enjoy the terrifying nuances that come with a dating profile, so perhaps these things seem rare and unlikely. We all see the adverts on the TV and notice how stunning, yet neurotic they all are. We also often decide that we aren’t those type of people, we are all three dimensional people who can’t be contained on a webpage, and honestly this shows. Most dating profiles other than the preference on if you’re a racist, homophobe or sexist is a mess of peoples panic as they’re asked to explain themselves.

Most of the time it falls down to being fun or quirky, and everyone is nice. Not that this takes away from people, but this is where the ton of salt should be taken. It’s hard to discover who a person really is online, but even more daunting is that we’ve given it a go and it seems we’re all psychopaths and creepers.

The final part of my thoughts on dating websites is the actual dating or contacting people part. Messaging a complete random stranger is yet again another babble-fest where you might as well be screaming “Love Me!” at the screen until someone eventually agrees and you go out. It’s all mostly small talk and you rarely hit it off with anyone. Also from reading enough of the ladies profiles, I imagine most are jaded by the constant ask for nudes, sex or general dirty talk. This makes it somewhat hard to be genuinely nice when the contract of having a dating profile as a male seems to be that you are instantly a creep.

Anyway, these were just some of my thoughts on the whole process. I think I might just want to keep my dating to face to face stuff now, or maybe just remove the human aspect and chat with a bot instead.

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