Tag Archives: Facebook

It stops with me

I just read “Her Rights at Work” by Anne Summers and began sobbing before I was half way through. I remember seeing the signs that said “ditch the bitch” and “Juliar” but I had no idea that the levels of harassment and vilification had become quite so bad. Thank you, Anne, for making this public.

If you think that Gillard isn’t harassed on the basis of her sex, here’s an excerpt from Anne’s speech that may change your mind:

For instance, the Facebook page Julia Gillard – Worst PM in Australian History had 15,686 “Likes” and 43, 265 people were “talking about” it on 22 August this year. By August 28 – in just six days – this had grown to 18,051 likes with 45,760 talking about it.

(Fortunately this is way short on the 132,000 people who “like” Julia Gillard on her official Facebook page).

Facebook has given us new ways to intimidate, bully, harass and defame on a remarkable and previously unimaginable scale. There was another very famous Facebook page that has since been taken down.

It was part of the Alf Stewart meme – a series of extremely crude FaceBook pages that have taken over the persona of a character in the soapie Home and Away and used him to promote some pretty disgusting notions. You will not be surprised to hear that most of these denigrate women and some of them actually glorify rape.

The one to which I am referring shows Alf saying: “Julz you fucking slut” on top of a photo of Gillard which has superimposed over it the words: “Smash my box Alf”. Under that is another photo of Alf, and the words: “If I wanted a greasy red box I’d go to KFC ya slut”.

This little graphic had been “liked” 43,253 times by the time it had been taken down. Perhaps just as alarming was the fact that it had been “shared” by 2,099 people. If each of those people who shared it with their friends had 100 Facebook friends, this image has potentially been distributed to over 200,000 people. (That’s more than one-third of the population of Newcastle).


What can we do? Blog about this speech and link to it. Share the link on Facebook. Tweet it with #itstopswithme, #whywestillneedfeminism and #destroythejoint. I am an Australian woman and I will not stand in silence while sexism rages around me. The next time someone makes an offensive and sexist comment, say firmly that you don’t agree. The next time you hear a racist or homophobic joke, even if it’s just someone saying “that’s so gay”, don’t retreat into silence.


Getting stuff out there

Ok, it’s true – I’ve been avoiding my blog. Posting nearly every day through the writers festival did me in. Not just the posting, but the extreme levels of organisation it took to get there to be able to blog about it in the first place.

So the festival is over, and Sparrow and I have been at sleep school (again). This time I’m feeling more hopeful – he slept 11 hours last night. But like Ann Patchett in her new novel State of Wonder writes, hope is like a fish hook. It drags and pulls. I’m fighting a hope war (very quietly on the couch). I’m reading the book because I got brave and introduced myself to Jason Steger whilst at the festival and (gulp) asked him if I could send him some of my writing. He asked for a review so I’m trying to get the novel read at slightly faster than a snails pace before he forgets me completely.

The thing that has sent me back to my blog is Mums Lounge. All the way back in May, when I wrote my first few posts and put them on Facebook, Jolene from Mums Lounge found me and asked if I could write a post to be featured on her website which is a mix of shopping, forums, advice, and a selection of blogs. There’s a piece of mine up there this weekend about me and Monkey getting henna tattoos in Coburghead on over if you feel like a read .

I’m just going to keep putting stuff out there. I’ll write this review. I’ve submitted three poems to the Australian Poetry Members Anthology. I sent my post on Emily Rodda to Melbourne’s Child (and didn’t hear a thing). I will continue to behave as if my writing is good and worth sending out, I will breathe, and honour the words that come unbidden in the night, and trite as it sounds, I will hope.

In conversation: William Powers (and a lightening fast breastfeed)

Monkey arrived with tomato sauce smeared over his chin. He grabbed my hand as I stepped off the escalator and asked me what I’d been doing at the writers festival. Writing, I said. “But how were you writing Mama?” Sparrow is simultaneously desperate for sleep and needing a feed. The four of us sit in Beer Deluxe while Monkey eats a biscuit and then spills pale and frothy orange juice over the table. Sparrow sucks and murmurs, eyes rolling back in his head. I watch the clock. Could I feed, and hear about Monkey’s morning, and drink a coffee, and get to the toilet, and then make it here in half an hour? I could.

Bill Powers (@hamletsbb) is tall, and wide through the shoulders, and friendly. I have a father, but not a dad. This makes me susceptible to wishing nice men were my dad, and despite Bill being not a lot older than me, this is how I feel. His essay, Hamlet’s Blackberry, came from the observation that he was critiquing media, but leaving out the devices themselves. He saw people reviewing new gadgets and all the fabulous things they could do, but not discussing their impact. “The more I got connected digitally the more I felt my focus narrow down. People of all ages were saying that the more connected they were, the more they felt the rhythm of their life was changing in some fundamental way, that their attention had become scattered.”

I have felt this too. About ten weeks ago I had a poem accepted for publication in a Melbourne Poet’s Union anthology called In Their Cups. I got the news in an email. It was such a feelgood moment that I’ve been checking my email in hyperdrive ever since. I’m the rat that got some cheese when I pressed a button. There’s no more cheese, but I can’t stop pressing. And it’s not just email I check. There’s all my ongoing Words with Friends games to keep up with. And Twitter, I should check that (hang on I’ll just tweet about irony). And Facebook – I should let my friends know I’m at the MWF and having a great time. I arrive back in my body, in ACMI’s Studio 1, to hear Matthew Ricketson asking this:

How do you live happily in a digital world, but also deal with the burden?

“It’s the conundrum of connectedness. In history there have been moments like this one, for example the invention of the printing press, where everything changes, and people have a sense of drowning in information. Life in the crowd. Connective technologies draw us closer to everybody else in the world. We’ve been so trained by the screen and our attention is divided so thinly. What I had to do was open up a gap between my digital life and myself.” William’s glass of water is almost empty, but I haven’t seen him drink. He seems like someone I’d like to know. I’ll just look him up he’s sure to be on Twitter. Follow. Great. Check email: spam, a new follow from MWF retweeting my tweet, someone on freecycle with an offer of one hundred red bricks.

Stories about digital life are bubbling in me. A loved one who was staying in our bungalow and couldn’t sleep. She was convinced that her iPad would be able to help her, but was too far away from the house to pick up our wireless connection. So she walked into our freezing and pitch black backyard at two o’clock in the morning to search the app store. Or Monkey crying every time I take my phone back. “But I really really LOVE that phone”. He’s been playing since he was one, and long ago mastered the swipe and pinch. Or being in the doctor’s surgery last week and noticing that seventy five percent of the people in the waiting room were interfacing with smart phones, and wondering if we were all, already, cyborgs (Donna Haraway eat your heart out).

Then he played this ad. It gave me shivers and made me cry (not the first time that’s happened at this festival). Then this quote from a keynote address at a university: “Turn off your computer. You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around you.”

At Bill’s house they call it the vanishing family. They all arrive in the lounge room at night, and then disappear to their various screens within ten minutes to “check something”. So they have the internet Sabbath. They turn off the household modem on Friday night, and turn it back on on Monday morning. I can feel myself filled with dread and defensive bargaining, reminiscent of when I was contemplating giving up smoking. The first few weekends they were totally lost. They wandered aimlessly around the house, went to their screens, and sagged when they discovered they could not disappear. “As time went by it got easier, but there were also incredible benefits. Eye contact came back. Minds slowed down on the weekends. Being right here right now. Present. Connected. Really alive. Showing up for your life. Some of that carried over when we went back to our digital lives.”

The session finishes. I check my email. Again. I text to say I’ll meet you under the big screen. I walk fast to hold Sparrow while he waves and grins, to eat a sandwich brought from home, to sit with my back in the sun and be fed poffertjes by Monkey, who pronounces the Dutch word perfectly, then kisses me on the cheek. “That’s a purple kiss Mama, because that’s your favourite colour and I missed you. Can I play on your phone now?”