Alice Shaw

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ciao for Now

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2011 at 4:07 am

It will be obvious for those of you who pop by on a regular or even semi-regular basis, that I have not been particularly consistent in my blogging for some time now.  I like having a space where I can write about things I’m feeling quite strongly about and hopefully I can engage a few passers by in a bit of banter.  I have another blog, Romance 101 which I had to close down for a while, for reasons I won’t bore you with now.  But it is where I find I do my best writing, and it is where I am going to be for the next little while.  I am closing down The Shaw Daily for the time being, I might be back, I might not.  But I really hope you will join me over at Romance101.  Thanks for dropping by.  Alice.

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Endorsing Violence

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Recently Channel 7 have been promoting the television show, Amazing Race, by showing a young man screaming abuse at his girlfriend.  Why is he doing this?  Because she failed to follow his instructions.  And the young man in question absolutely expects his girlfriend to do as she is told.  He tells her that her father clearly did not “spank” her enough when she was a child.  Apparently this young man believes that if a girl is physically disciplined by her father, she will be sufficiently well trained by the time she is an adult, to do what her boyfriend/husband tells her to do.  If a girl is hit by her father, this will, according to this young man’s logic, ensure that she does not get out of line in adulthood.  She will accept that her man is her master and she will not do anything without his explicit consent.

 My first response is to ask what century this young man is living in, that he believes his girlfriend to be his property?  How can he, in 2011, truly think that his word is law when it comes to interacting with his girlfriend?  I would like to say I am surprised by this, but I can’t.  Why?  Because somewhere in the world this morning, a woman was punched in the face for not having the cereal her husband wants.  Another woman was told she was fat and useless and threatened with having her children taken.  Yet another woman had her husband or partner put his face just inches from hers, screaming at her as spit flew into her face and she held just still enough to ensure she wouldn’t have to make up yet another excuse for a black eye today.  This may sound extreme, but sadly, domestic violence happens every day in Australia and all over the world.  In 2011, there are men who believe that to abuse their wife or girlfriend is their absolute right.

 

Instead of pulling this appalling footage off the air, and directing the young man in question to a relevant perpetrator program, Channel 7 have chosen to use it as a promotional piece to pull in more viewers.  They use the word “shocking” when airing the footage, but the most shocking thing about this piece is the fact that a television channel thinks it is okay to air it.

 It is never acceptable to scream at your partner, except perhaps if you see a bus about to hit her and you are screaming at her to watch out.  Women are not property and are not owned by fathers to passed into the ownership of boyfriends and husbands who will rule with an iron fist.

 I am well aware that there are plenty of men of who are not violent.  So I would like to see prominent men, sports figures, media personalities, writers and journalists speak out about this disgusting display of domestic violence being used as entertainment.  I would like to see men stand up and say it is not okay to verbally abuse your wife or girlfriend.  I would like them to stand up and say, it is not okay to hit your wife and it is not okay to say your wife makes you angry, she made you hit her.  I want them to say that no matter what your wife says or does, you control your own behaviour.  No amount of what you claim to be provocative behaviour justifies an abusive response.

 I cannot help but wonder whether the young man in the Amazing Race, screams at his mates the way he does at his girlfriend.  Whether he expects obedience from the men in his life, or is it just the women?

 Domestic violence is a crime.  The more people who speak out against it, the more hope we have of stopping it.  Using footage of a perpetrator abusing his girlfriend, in order to boost viewing numbers is the same as endorsing violence against women as a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment.

No, I Don’t Want to Sleep with your Husband

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 at 4:09 am

I have never considered myself much of a vamp or seductress.  On the days I am not racing through drop off and tearing off to work, late as always, I schlep up to the school in jeans and a t-shirt, jumper and boots in the winter, thongs in the summer.  I barely register anyone else around me, as I sort once again through lost property in search of a long lost school jumper and question my daughter, once again, on why she needs to bring every one of her books to school, making her bag so heavy I can barely lift it.  So this is my least sexy time.  My hair is brushed, my teeth are clean and that is about it.

 So what is it about me that prompts certain school mums to assume that I want to have sex with their husbands?  I dread to think that it is merely my single mother status that sends them scurrying about, grabbing their husband’s arms with vice like grips, and even literally turning their backs to me.  I am not even kidding.  This has actually happened to me. 

 I recently attended at a picnic to farewell one of my child’s class mates.  I’ve never liked the mother, she’s always been decidedly unfriendly and I’m pretty sure my kid has hardly ever played with her kid.  My kid just wanted to hang out with her friends on a weekend.  So I gritted my teeth and along I went.  In a big baggy cardigan and no makeup, I sat on my own picnic rug and said hello politely to each new arrival, but not once did I bend over and seductively wave my somewhat ample derriere in the face of an unsuspecting husband.  I waited for the various snacks to be passed around and refrained from leaning over any nearby husband to brush my buxom bosom against his innocently placed arm.  I just sat there!  And yet, even though I tried to have conversations with those around me, the husbands acted really strangely and I am pretty sure it wasn’t due to any broccoli in teeth type situation.  I think it’s because their wives were giving me (and them) the hairy eyeball every time I so much as glanced in the direction of any bloke there.

 I’m sorry they’re so insecure in their marriages that they assume their husbands will stray.  I’m sorry that being in the proximity of a divorced woman scares them so much they assume my siren song will be so seductive that their husbands will be powerless against it.  I understand feeling a little insecure from time to time but newsflash, divorce isn’t catching, it won’t rub off me onto you!

 So here’s the thing.  I don’t sleep with other women’s husbands or partners.  I don’t want to.  Most of the time they are not very attractive and a lot of them are either arrogant, or stupid, or both.  But the main reason I don’t want to sleep with their husbands?  Because they’re already married!  Just because I am single, does not mean I have every man in my sights and I am definitely not interested in a man who would cheat on his wife.  Okay?

 My suggestion for any woman who panics like this?  Maybe have a chat with your guy about how you are feeling.  Perhaps even consider some couples counselling. And maybe strike up a conversation with me sometime.  You will see how completely non-predatory I am and you may even make a new friend.  Seems to me like you might need one.

Desperate Measures

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

What is it that Mick Fox actually wants?  He purports to be protesting against Community Services (DoCs) but he doesn’t say why.  He states that all children have the right to a loving mother and a loving father, and he’s right, but he doesn’t say why he felt he had to bring the Harbour Bridge to a standstill in order to get this message across.  He talks about his “situation” but he doesn’t actually say what his situation is.  In his interview with 60 Minutes tonight he stated that his actions would definitely get him closer to his children.  The children the court has banned him from contacting, based on his actions last Friday. 

 Mick speaks passionately about broken families and he is clearly distressed over the end of his marriage and that he is apparently not being given access to his children.  But what is he actually trying to achieve? 

 There were many people who supported Mick.  “Good on ya mate” did the rounds and many people spoke out about how hard it is for dads who don’t get a “fair go”.  But what do we know about Mick?  He apparently served in the military but the Australian Defence Force has not confirmed this.  He is apparently a witness to a murder which involved bikie gang connections and the house that he owned, recently burned to the ground with his ex-wife and one child inside.  This is pretty much all we know.  Apart from the odd friend who called into various media outlets to confirm Mick’s “good bloke” status, we don’t know anything.

 We don’t know why his marriage ended and why he isn’t getting access to his kids.  We don’t know whether there is Community Services involvement, and if there is, we don’t know why.  Did Mick call Community Services believing his children were in danger or did his ex wife call them, concerned about Mick?  We don’t know why he took to the Harbour Bridge, leaving a threatening note in his truck, to further his cause.  There are always two sides to any story and yet there has been complete silence from the other side involved.  Sometimes, this silence speaks volumes.

 Whilst he may have become a hero for some, speaking out in desperation for the children he is now legally restrained from seeing, I would argue that there is something deeper going on.  Mick seems to absolutely believe he did the right thing, he seems to believe his protest will change the lives of children, his or someone else’s.  Sadly for Mick, he seems to completely lack insight into the fact that the only change he has made, is to his detriment.

 I support peaceful protest, I believe in the rights of children.  But I do not believe that pulling a dangerous stunt, disrupting a city, endangering the lives of people on the bridge and making threats, is a constructive use of a person’s time.  Letters to editors, protests on line, engaging advocates, fighting the legal system – these may be arduous tasks but they are a safer, less threatening way to get your message cross.

Love Thy Neighbour

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2011 at 1:01 am

I have been really lucky throughout my adulthood, to have had very good luck with neighbours.  I’ve had the ones I’ve become close friends with, I’ve had friendly and quiet neighbours and I’ve had neighbours who look after the cat and take in the mail whilst I’ve been on holidays.

I currently have a wonderfully supportive neighbour on one side, with kids similar ages to mine, and an obsession with magazines which means my obsession won’t send me broke just yet.  But on the other side I’ve had a succession of fright stories over the years.  I always make an effort to welcome them to the street, introduce myself, and offer the proverbial “cup of sugar” should they ever need it.  I am yet to have a handsome, single man move in but I live in hope! 

First I had the Irish backpackers who’s favourite word was “feck”.  Everything was “feckin'” this and “feckin'” that and “would you feck off” and it got old very quickly.  Especially at 5am.  I once swooned at an Irish accent.  Believe me when I tell you that “Harriet the Horrible” ended all that!  The late night parties, the grass that grew so high it began to climb over the fence, the endless smoking and shouting.  For the life of me I cannot understand why they rented in outer suburbia.  I mean, isn’t that why we have Bondi?

Next I had Ms Social Climber and her boyfriend, then fiance, then husband, Dr Fabulous.  Ms Social Climber became Mrs “my husband’s a doctor” in a clearly goal oriented attack which saw her married and with child within a year of living here.  Dr Fabulous was okay but he seemed to have a faint look of distaste whenever I saw him.  When I invited them over for drinks with some friends of mine, Ms SC swiftly took over the conversation and peppered it with racist remarks about her time living in Redfern.  This did not go down well with me or my other guests.  She was obviously very keen to have children herself and decided that she would practice with mine .  Without my permission.  I quickly put an end to that.  Eventually we barely said hello in the street but she would suddenly become my best friend again if she had something to brag about.  Huge engagement ring, lavish wedding to doctor, buying great big McMansion somewhere posh.   I was relieved one Saturday morning to see a huge moving truck parked in front of their house.

My current neighbour is in a very similar situation to me, except she’s fantastically more glamorous than I am, being South American and gorgeous.  We speak from time to time but it’s clear she isn’t into being friends with neighbours.  And boy is she noisy!  The first night she moved in, her boyfriend stayed over and they were clearly celebrating the move.  Loudly.  And more than once.  This is not something I want to listen to.  The next morning when they were enjoying a post coital breakfast on the balcony I introduced myself and made references to the thinness of the walls – and the fact that we share a bedroom wall….

Alas this has all fallen on deaf ears.. and they aren’t mine unfortunately.  I’ve been woken by screaming fights, door slamming that has actually rattled my windows and of course, the inevitable making up.   I have no voyeuristic intentions but I suppose I can say I am impressed by their stamina.

I’m not perfect I’ll concede that point.  I sometimes don’t mow the lawn for weeks and the children and I have become adept at communicating by shouting from one end of the house to the other.  But I will take your bin in if you want me to and if you need that cup of sugar, you need only come over and knock on my door.

Better than Nothing

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

At this time of year, it can be hard to see past the shiny, sparkly things that glare out at us from the daily barrage of catalogues clogging up our letter boxes.  “Come and buy me” they whisper seductively and it can be difficult not to get caught up in the hype.  We buy new things, more than we need, expensive trinkets and electronic devices that are out of date before Easter.

In all of the cheerful activity and sugar plums clouding our vision, it can be easy to forget that there are those who will not even have a roof over their heads this Christmas.  The ones that do have somewhere to live may barely be able to keep up with rental payments and therefore presents and elaborate feasts will be sacrificed in order to stay housed.  Children will go without and will wonder why Santa favours those with money, whilst their stockings stay empty. 

Charities world wide call for donations at Christmas time and there are plenty of people around who willingly donate money, gifts and their time to help those less fortunate than themselves, to give those who are disadvantaged at least some hope to get them through what can be an extremely difficult time.  But then there are those who just don’t seem to get it.  Recently, on an episode of the 7pm Project, Carrie Bickmore stated that she had often donated her old underwear to charities, believing that since people are disadvantaged, this donation was “better than nothing”.  I was stunned to hear her make this comment.  Apart from certain fetishists (and that is for another post), I cannot imagine anyone being grateful to receive previously worn underwear, no matter how well laundered it has been.

People who are at a financial disadvantage, struggling to get by, dreading Christmas with all the extra pressures it brings, both through family struggles, gut wrenching loneliness, hunger and the financial strain of trying to buy presents for children, deserve a little dignity.  A person who is struggling, does not need to be “grateful” for items that are unusable, or unwearable.  It is with some sadness I have noted that charity clothing bins are having to state quite clearly on their notices, that people should only donate clean, wearable clothing items.  They state that they do not wish to receive broken items.  When did we get to the point where those who are fortunate enough to have such an excess of anything, that they can dispose of it and still have everything they need, feel it is okay to bestow dirty and unwearable clothes, or indeed second hand underwear on those less fortunate?  Why is it considered an act of charity to give something that will further undermine the dignity of a person who is already struggling, who already feels the stigma of being disadvantaged, who would be grateful for a donation but not something that makes them feel unworthy?

I am not suggesting that people who have everything they need are undeserving of everything their money can buy them, but I am suggesting that when giving to charity, at Christmas or any other time of the year, consider how your donation will make a person feel and not how you feel about it.  Something is not better than nothing.  Something that is wearable, useable, helpful will give something who has nothing not just a new item of clothing or a new pair of shoes, it will give them some dignity and with dignity will come hope.  And hope will go a very long way to making a difference in someone’s life.

Who Is Protecting Our Children?

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

Child protection is a difficult and demanding job.  The hours are long, the tasks gruelling, the abuse brutal.  Each time another case of appalling neglect and abuse is reported in the media, those who are working each day under increasingly high demands are torn to shreds.  When I read yet another account of how poorly child protection workers are performing, I think that those who are so vocal about blame should spend just a day doing that job to get a true sense of what it is really like.

But when a story emerges about an 11 year old girl giving birth, it is difficult not to turn to the statutory child protection agency charged with protecting children in that particular state and ask “what is going on?”

How can this happen?  It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child and yet after all of the high profile cases, the changes to legislation, the children being beaten, starved, neglected, sexually assaulted and killed, there still appears to be very little collaboration between the people who are supposed to be responsible for protecting children.  I am not just talking about the parents.  We would all immediately expect that a parent would do whatever they could to keep their child out of harms way.  Sometimes however, parents either haven’t got the capacity to protect their children, or worse, they feel entitled to inflict ill treatment upon them.  But there are others involved.  An 11 year old girl would surely be attending school.  Who is looking out for her?  Who is questioning what must have been changing behaviour on her part whilst she was being sexually assaulted by a man who came into her family home?  What did her doctor have to say?  Was there a report to the Department of Human Services in Victoria or was the child already “known to the Department”?  Who was communicating with whom about what was happening to this little girl?

In 1990 Daniel Valerio, 2 years old, was beaten to death by his step father.  He and his brother had repeatedly presented as battered and bruised and yet there was no communication between health care services, child protection services and police, except for the case being handed between different services, with little investigation.  It took a tradesman working at the house to alert the authorities to the severity of the abuse.  The police surgeon finally became involved, but it was too late for Daniel who died a few days after being examined.  How were lessons not learned from this case?

In 2000 in the United Kingdom, Victoria Climbie aged 8, died after months of abuse and neglect, despite being known to social services and despite a social worker visiting her home but who never actually saw Victoria in person, instead taking the word of her abusers as to her wellbeing.

Changes to social services were made because of both of these cases and yet lack of collaboration, both in Australia and overseas continues to see appalling cases of child abuse slip through the safety net.

For those in the community I would reiterate, it takes a village to raise a child.  Ask questions, confirm or dispel suspicions.  If you think a child may be in danger, make enquiries.  It is your business, it is the business of everyone to keep all children safe.  To turn a blind eye, to refrain from speaking up, is to turn your back on a child who may be in danger.  The child protection services are overworked.  Which is why it is up to everyone, from all walks of life, to stay vigilant, to keep our children safe.