Alice Shaw

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

My Name is Rosie

In Opinion on July 29, 2010 at 9:27 am

My name is Rosie, and I am of mixed race, Tasmanian Aboriginal, and Anglo-Saxon.  I carry the guilt of one side along with the suffering of the other, with the scars caused by the racism visited on my family and myself by both.

I grew up in a small town, where my grandparents lived; my mum’s parents.  Dad’s mum lived about an hour away, and she was disapproving to say the least, of mum, and of us.

But Nanna wasn’t the only one, and, oddly enough, her contempt was the least hurtful, mainly because she was, well, she was Nanna, and she was difficult, and very opinionated, and so far as we could see, she hated all of her children’s spouses.  The things that hurt the most were the ones we encountered on a daily basis.

My entire family suffered under the yoke of the label of ‘Abo’, and all the negative connotations of, not so much the word, but the way it was said; with a sneer, and a glower.  We were below the lowest rung on the social ladder, and expected to remember that.  We were thieves, drunks, child rapists, drunks and violent.

One of the clearest  – and most hurtful, even 32 years later – memories of racism I have comes from when I was 8.  A girl in my class had invited me to her birthday party, and, all excited to be attending my first ‘proper’ birthday party, I arrived at the appointed time.  The main part of the party was outside, we had fairy bread, and cocktail franks, and all the usual party food, until it was time for cake – then we had to go inside, because it was an icecream cake, and a blisteringly hot summer day.  Everyone except me that is, I was stopped at the door by her mother, who informed me she didn’t want a ‘filthy, thieving Abo’ in her house.  I left in tears, went home, and told my parents I left because I didn’t feel well.  To this day, Mum does not know the truth.  Dad never knew.  It would have destroyed them.  As much as it is the job of parents to protect their children, sometimes children have to protect their parents.

I was taunted at school, followed around shops, frisked before leaving, and at times, I was followed home, to be accused of stealing.  I was bashed and abused by my peers – those who didn’t go out of their way to avoid me, in case they got some form of contagion from the Abo.  If I went to someone’s home, I was expected to enter and leave by the back door, and to make sure there was no-one around to see me arrive or leave.  My extended family, most of whom lived out of town, and were the cause of our labelling as thieving, lazy, drunk and violent, were furious with my parents for paying rent to a white landlord, and sending us to a whitefella school, where we were only learning how worthless the whites thought we were.

The most vocal of these was my Uncle, who lived in the bush in a corrugated iron shanty, with his wife, son, and daughter.  He was a violent drunk, who delighted in belting his wife and daughter, and would ‘hire’ his family out in exchange for grog.  I despised him, and dreaded those occasions where we had to see him.  Sadly, he really was my uncle, an actual blood relative.  I sincerely hope he burns in Hell.  The townspeople I can forgive, to a degree, but not him.  The damage he did to me, and my family, as well as his own, is immeasurable, and unforgivable.

We left the area when I was 14, but I still haven’t healed the wounds that those years caused.  To this day, I fear being judged for what I am, rather than who I am.  I still struggle to get my head around the race debate; I live with one foot on either side of the line, with my head and heart in the middle, spinning in a various random directions.  And the older I get, the worse it gets.  The scars thicken, and the spinning in my head and heart get faster, and more random.

I have never been back to the town where I spent most of my childhood, and I cannot see it ever happening.  There are just too many ghosts, and too much pain.  I carry the people there with me every single day, both the good and the bad.  I will do so for the rest of my life.  And that is ok, they helped shape me.

I will continue to correct those who call me an Indigenous Australian (I find the term offensive), and defend my right to do so.

I will also continue to defend my right to celebrate Australia Day as Australia Day, rather than Invasion Day, as certain activists would have me do.  My beliefs and principles are the things that make me who I am, here and now.  What happened to me, and my family, in the past, may help to shape me, and continue to hurt me, but it is not who I am.  While I may not be completely sure exactly who that is, I am damn sure that whoever it is, is more than the sum of a few strands of DNA.


Abuse by Any Other Name is Still Domestic Violence

In Opinion on July 25, 2010 at 10:25 am

Oh dear, Mel Gibson is at again.  His last tirade was an anti-Semitic rant which was unforgiveable, and for which he had no choice but to publicly apologise.  He was quite humble about it all.  He isn’t a racist anti- Semite at all apparently, and so, despite the ugliness of it, he was allowed to move on.

 But Mel is at the centre of a media storm again.  This time he allegedly raged at his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and she caught it all on tape.    He apparently hurled vicious verbal abuse at her, insulting not just her but his tiny baby daughter who was with Grigorieva at the time of the attack.  Vile name calling and racist remarks peppered his rant.  There has been plenty of media coverage of the alleged abuse but we have not heard the tapes yet and we have heard barely anything from the Gibson camp.  There has been no humble apology this time.  Because this time, there might just be a way of having his behaviour excused.  Reports have begun to emerge that Oksana is being investigated for extortion – pardon my cynicism but I wonder who leaked that bit of information to the press.  Further, there has been a report that Mel had begun to try and give up smoking on the very day that he unleashed his verbal tirade against his former girlfriend.  Oh, and he thought that she was having an affair.  Well I guess that makes it okay then.

 But let me point out that when you scream abuse at any woman, you are an abuser.  When you rage against her, obscenities flying from your mouth, you are a perpetrator of domestic violence.  Yes you are.  You can dress it up in excuses about giving up smoking, or fears of an affair or any other of the mitigating circumstances that perpetrators try and bring up to negate the seriousness of their actions.  How many women were punched in the face this week for buying the wrong butter.  How many women wore long sleeves to work so they could conceal the bruises they got when they looked the wrong way at a male friend.  How many women spend every day hearing that they are stupid, they are useless, they are dirty, they are whores, they are worthless, they are bad mothers, they are psychotic?  The list goes on.  And how many children are also exposed to this nightmare?

 Is it possible that Mel Gibson has become violent, abusive and menacing after his 30 year marriage to Robyn Gibson ended?  Yes it is.  Is it likely that he was never verbally abusive to her?  I would argue that unfortunately, no it is not.  I suspect that Mel has been skilled at hiding his abusive nature under his oh so public front of devoted Catholic father.  He has been quick over the years to refer to his Catholicism as though it somehow made him above reproach. 

 Domestic violence is an insidious and on-going problem which permeates all walks of life, from the rich and privileged to those on the poverty line.  It knows no class divide and domestic violence is predominately perpetrated by men, against women.  In far too many cases, we hear of the perpetrator attempting to discredit his victim in order to reduce his culpability.  It is very disappointing not to have heard from other prominent male figures in Hollywood regarding this incident.  I realise that the media are still using the words “alleged” and “apparently” in their reports and that we have still only heard Oksana’s side of the story, but just once I would like to see a group of well known, easily recognised men, genuinely speak out against the crime of domestic violence, instead of the victim frantically scrabbling to keep herself safe, lest the perpetrator be successful in convincing everyone that she, is in fact, to blame.

 As more information emerges, particularly that which is detrimental to Oksana, we would do well to remember that domestic violence is a crime.  It does not matter if she was having an affair, or if she wore something Mel didn’t like or if she told him to go take a flying leap.  She is the victim.  It is the perpetrator who must be brought to task.

Lift Much?

In Entertainment on July 24, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I was amused to read speculation at The Huffington Post as to how well known short guy Tom Cruise, managed to be around the same height as statesque Cameron Diaz, in heels!  Seems that a little research shows that Tom loves a lift.  If you look closely in some photographs, Tom seems to be wearing shoes with wedges.  Apparently, he likes tall women, he just doesn’t have the confidence to accept the 5 feet, 7 inches he was given.

Check out those sneakers!

Enhancement, Post Production

In News on July 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Photo:  Glen McCurtayne

I can’t help but wonder whether Sarah Murdoch regrets appearing on a Women’s Weekly cover without airbrushing, or whether she regrets her heavily airbrushed promotional images for Australia’s Next Top Model.  I suspect the former.

 Ms Murdoch appeared during a flurry of media exposure regarding the Body Image Advisory Council, of which she is a member, which was formed to help find a way to combat negative body image.  The Council has since produced a Code of Conduct which suggests, among other things, that magazines provide clear information regarding enhancements via airbrushing of the models which appear in their magazines.  It should be noted that this Code of Conduct is voluntary and therefore magazine editors can choose to expose whether or not enhancements have taken place.  Much the same as they had that choice before the Code of Conduct was introduced.

 Sarah Murdoch is one of those women who is blessed with natural beauty.  She was bestowed this gift and has made the best of it.  She looked beautiful on the Women’s Weekly magazine cover and did not need enhancing, in my opinion.  In her ANTM promotional photos, she looks breath taking, and slightly unreal.  Her face is completely smooth, not a line nor a blemish to be seen and she looks ravishing in a red gown, slim and perfect.  Which I think is the point.  She’s a model advertising a television show about becoming a model.  Her publicist has come out with a rather snooty statement about Ms Murdoch never having stated she would not be airbrushed again in the future.   To be honest, I can’t really blame her.  Looking gorgeous is what she does for a living.  She makes money from it.  The object of her job is to be so beautiful as to inspire others to seek to attain that beauty by the purchase of the products she advertises.  I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying that it is her job.  The possible mistake that Ms Murdoch made, was to be a on a committee which is pushing for a more realistic portrayal of women in the media.  This is surely something she could never fully commit to.

 I recently purchased some well known fashion magazines whilst in the United Kingdom.  I noticed that a few of the advertisements have begun to acknowledge that the finished product is not quite what it looked like on the day.  For example, Eva Longoria appears in an ad for L’oreal Volume Million Lashes.  In very small writing at the bottom of the page it acknowledges that “Eva’s eyes styled with lash inserts and millionized with Volume Million Lashes”.  So basically, unless you use lash inserts no amount of “millionizing” is going to make your lashes look like Eva’s.  In Maybelline’s “the Falsies by Volum’  Express” advertisement, the very small writing states that the model’s look was “enhanced post production”.  It’s not much but it’s a start.  However, I would suggest that L’oreal needs to take a leaf out of it’s own book because in an ad for Collagen Micro-vibration eye, we see a heavily airbrushed Linda Evangelista without a line to be seen, and no statement about enhancement.  Although curiously the ad does state that the lineless and blemish free Ms Evangelista is 45!

 Perhaps a little less mud slinging at Ms Murdoch and a little more attention to those magazine editors who continue to endorse heavy airbrushing without acknowledgement, is in order.