Don’t lecture me about safety. I’m already safe

Last year an out of town friend came to visit and invited me to a group catch up. The casual rendezvous would involve playing table top games at a location in the CBD that provides space to play. I’d never been to this particular establishment before, but had heard good things about it on Facebook, so was quite excited at finally being able to experience it first-hand. However unbeknownst to me, to enter the business you had to do so through a door at the back of the building, which I discovered when I arrived. The only way to get to this back-door entrance was via a long and darkened alleyway at the side of the building. Even though it was in the middle of the CBD, and the late afternoon, I still felt anxious having to walk by myself down this unfamiliar alley. I remember feeling a tight grip of anxiety press on my chest as I walked down the dark passage. What possible dangers could be lurking in the shadows for me? Evidently nothing, as I made it to the back door untroubled and unscathed. Upon entering the room, I was greeted by some familiar faces and quickly forgot my panic. Later a male friend of mine brought up that he had been a bit worried about “walking down the freaky alley” too. “Oh yeah!” I replied, “I totally thought I was going to get raped and murdered!” then laughed at my own overreaction. My friend just said “Huh?” and I realised he looked quite confused. I paused and matter-of-factly stated, “You know, because it’s a dark alley and I was by myself. And I’m a woman”. At that moment an epiphany of realisation dawned on my friend’s face and he quickly responded, “Oh, I just meant I was concerned about being hit by a car”. Turns out the “alley-way” was merely a driveway for the building’s employee carparking area. Embarrassed at the absurdity of what I just said, I jokingly brushed it off and observed, “Oh well, now I guess you know the difference between how men and women think!” and quickly moved over to the table to join in the next round of Libertine (quite a good game actually).

But that is the difference between men and women really isn’t it. Men are worry about the same things that everyone worries about, like getting hit by cars. Whereas women worry about the things that tend to be more specific to them. Like getting raped, sexually assaulted, attacked, and/or murdered. Highly unlikely, I know. Except that 31 women have been murdered in Australia since the start of 2018. Wait, sorry, 32 women. Oh wait, no, 33 women. Yeah that’s right. In the time that it’s taken me to draft this damn post, two more women have been freaking murdered (and in these instances, allegedly by their partners). Let that sink in. That’s more than one a week so far. Surely this must outrage more people than just me? Why are not talking about this? Why are we not marching in the streets? Oh that’s right, we did. And it got the usual 30 seconds of coverage in the media before we went back to talking about how Trump says the darnedest things.

And yes, I understand that there’s been quite a shift in attitudes towards how women are treated, from the #timesup and #metoo movements, to the huge changes made to DV laws in Australia, to the willingness of victims to finally speak out and tell their stories. After years of ignoring us, such harrowing stories of abuse are finally being listened to and believed. And yet we’re still being told to be responsible for our own safety. You want to know how I’ve managed my safety for the past 34 years? Well if there’s one thing I know you’ve come to expect from Truthmummy, it’s lists. So here’s one for you.

20 ways that I’ve kept myself safe over the years:

  1. I either don’t walk around with headphones in, or only in one ear, so I can still hear what’s going on around me.
  2. Whenever I’m going out I tell someone where I’m going, ie. My husband, my mum, my friends. I’ll also tell them approximately how long I’ll be out, and when to expect me home.
  3. When heading out at night I call or text someone when I’m about to leave somewhere and then call or text the same person again when I’ve arrived.
  4. I tend not to wear high heels anymore, especially at night. Just in case I need to run…for whatever reason.
  5. In recent years I’ve even toned down my dress sense because I’m scared on how people will react. “Is this top too low cut, or too see-through, is this dress too short, is this skirt too revealing, what am I saying by wearing this much make-up?” etc.
  6. When driving I will always immediately lock my doors when I get in the car.
  7. When I fill my car with petrol I lock my car doors upon getting out of the car, then unlock them to get my purse out (always angling my body so my back is in towards the car and my legs/feet face outwards), then lock my car again when I go to pay.
  8. When I walk home at night from public transport, I constantly scan around me, behind me, and ahead of me watching out for people.
  9. I watch my shadow on the ground, under the sun during the day, and under street lamps at night so that I can see if anyone approaches me from behind.
  10. I get my car keys, or house keys ready ahead of time so I’m not fumbling around trying to find them in my bag when I arrive at the door.
  11. If I do fumble for my keys, I do so with my back to my car door/front door.
  12. I’ll even sometimes walk with my keys gripped between my fingers. I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure out why.
  13. When male strangers talk to me in public I try to only engage with them enough to be polite, but not too much to seem like I may be “leading them on”, and don’t ignore them entirely out of fear that they’ll become angry.
  14. I’ll also immediately make them aware of my wedding ring by brushing my hair with my left hand.
  15. If I hear a man yelling out to me in public I will ignore them and pretend to not hear them and quickly walk in the other direction. I almost completely ignored my husband the other day doing this before I realised it was him calling out to me.
  16. I’ll avoid walking in parks or alleys and sometimes even footpaths, preferring to walk along the road rather than taking these shortcuts (I used to walk on the road quite often when I lived in Forest Lake, rather than having to resort to the unlit footpaths that snaked through dense wooded areas).
  17. One time I avoided using an underpass to get where I was going and ran out on the road on a blind turn instead. I almost got hit by a car, but I still felt taking this chance was better than the possibility of what could have happened under that underpass.
  18. I prefer to drive or catch a taxi/Uber home instead of using public transport, especially if it’s late at night. Good thing I’m well off enough to be able to do this.
  19. I very rarely drink a lot when I’m out. One or two drinks max. I have never been drunk in public. I’ve always preferred to keep my wits about me.
  20. And lastly, oh yeah, I did Tae kwon-do for 21 years.

Stupidly long isn’t it. Some may say that I’m just being paranoid. I guarantee there are probably women out there that have more examples on their lists. I’ve more than likely forgotten to add a whole bunch of examples just because I do them automatically and don’t even think of them as safety functions. So what I’m getting at is women already do crazy stupid things to keep themselves “safe”. Like sharing STUPID BULLSHIT SAFETY ADVICE MEMES! After Eurydice Dixon’s murder a few weeks ago, this ridiculous picture kept popping up on my Facebook feed, shared by at least seven different people:

stupid iphone safety photo

When I first came across this meme I thought it was a scam, mainly because the picture just appeared to be photoshopped, and also because when I tried it on my own phone, nothing happened. Turns out this feature will only work on iPhones and only if you have an iOS11 or higher operating system.

But let me be frank, as a person who has trained in martial arts for over two decades this advice is BULLSHIT. I’m sorry, but if someone is attacking you, you don’t want to be focusing on trying to find your phone in your bag. Seriously ladies, hands up anyone who can whip their phone out of their bag or even their pocket without little trouble? No one? No one with their hand up? Yeah, thought so. The number of times I’ve rummaged around in my bag trying to answer my ringing phone before it goes to voicemail would probably be unsurprising to most other women. That annoyed panicky feeling you get when trying to grip your phone: “Eh, ngh, arggh, almost…got…it..NAAAH!” Finally it’s out of your bag!…and you missed the call… You know how it is. And don’t even get me started on trying to pull my phone out of my jeans pockets. You know, the ones that are made so tiny and impractical, because for some reason women don’t deserve proper pockets on their clothing! So the idea that you would have enough time to get your phone out to send off an emergency message before you’re seriously injured would be laughable. If only this wasn’t a laughing matter. “Well  what if you saw them coming, and you were able to get your phone in your hand before anything happened to you?” Let’s remember one very horrible fact about Eurydice Dixon’s murder. She more than likely had her phone in her hand already. It’s been reported numerous times that the last thing she did was text her boyfriend to say that she was almost home. When Jill Meagher was murdered in Melbourne in 2012 it was reported that she had called her brother, probably in her panic and confusion, and left a garbled and incoherent message. It was more than likely she was attacked immediately after that phone call.

Ladies. Every. Second. Counts. Please don’t waste them screwing around with your phone, trying to get some random app to work. Which by the way, if it does in fact connect you to emergency services, how long do you have to wait before they get there? Two minutes? Five? Ten? What happens in the mean time? Think about it, because I’d rather not try to describe it. The only thing your phone will be good for is as a weight in your hand when you smash it across an attacker’s face. And even then I wouldn’t recommend doing that, because unless you know what you’re doing, that’s a good way to break your knuckles.

Meagher and Dixon had their phones with them. It did nothing for them. So in those few precious yet horrifying moments, please use every ounce of your strength to fight. Fight for your life. As a former martial arts instructor I would always advise my students to go for the soft spots, as in eyes, nose, and throat. No one is going to continue to attack you when you’ve jammed your thumb up their nose. No one will chase after you if you’ve just struck them in both eyes really hard. No one will focus on hurting you if you’ve just driven your knuckles into their trachea five times really fast. Feeling a little uncomfortable with those descriptions? Then I have this to say: Stop being polite. Someone is attacking you. They are not there for your personal safety, so don’t afford them the same courtesy.

Unfortunately, the sad thing is when it came to advice, I used to go further than that. I used to tell me female students about how they needed to protect themselves in ways that could now be seen as focusing the blame back on them if they were to be attacked. I’d tell them not walk alone at night. Don’t wear high heels, you’ll be able to run away faster. Don’t wear short skirts, you don’t want to attract the wrong attention. Don’t BE there, because if you’re not there in the first place then no one will hurt you. Don’t “put” yourself in the situation. I perpetuated these attitudes for too many years believing that the most important thing was to “Not be there”. If you’re not there how can you get into trouble? Except, that doesn’t work for the woman trapped in a domestic violence relationship. For the women who get murdered in their own homes. And on top of that, not once did I ever hold the other side accountable. Never did I say to any of my male students, “Don’t rape women”. I never told them “If a woman says no, then respect that. She doesn’t owe you anything. You are not owed anything by anyone”. I never said “Women have a right to be anywhere they damn well please. How they look, how much they’ve had to drink, and where they are, are not an invitation for you to do anything that you want to them”. I should have said these things. But most importantly, what I should have made my students understand, was that by telling women they should be responsible for their own safety only keeps one woman safe. What you’re actually saying is you hope the other woman gets attacked instead. The one who has had too much to drink, or doesn’t have friends with her, or decided she wanted to go for a run in the park with her headphones in, or “got herself into” a relationship with a bad guy.

Men, please understand that we are not blaming you as a collective. Apart from the small sick minority, we know that the large majority of you love us and want to keep us safe. But perhaps take the time to realise that life as a woman can be pretty shit. If you just walk a mile in our shoes you will start to understand. Though make sure not to wear the high heels, you know, to make it easier if you have to run away (yeah, pretty stupid advice isn’t it).

Look I don’t want to be just another liberal feminist screaming into the echo chamber that is my social media bubble about something that I know most of you probably already agree with. But I couldn’t let the events of the last few weeks go by without saying anything. Because frankly I’m sick and tired of running out in front of traffic just because it’s “safer” than taking the darkened footpath. I’d rather prefer to be worried about just getting hit by a car.

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Smart Enough to Give You an update

So I realise it’s been quite a number of months since I last posted anything. Unfortunately the only excuse I can give is depression is a bitch. March through May this year for some reason has been rather difficult, and I’ve found myself either unwilling or unable to open my laptop and write anything.

I am however finally working my way through this trying time, and I do have about five different articles drafted. I just have to finish the damn things.

Into the meantime, here is something a little different. I’m a fan of the podcast Smart Enough to Know Better, a podcast of science, comedy, and ignorance. Hosted by Greg Wah and Dan Beeston this podcast is probably as far away from the topics of parenthood that you can get. However, recently Greg has created a sister podcast known as Wah Wonders Why. On his latest episode Greg interviews three people on things they’ve done in their life to achieve a victory of such over an adversity that life has thrust upon them. He speaks to man with a stutter, and a trans woman, and discusses their lives in general and what they’ve done to overcome particular societal pressures.

In the middle he speaks to little old me about my IVF journey and why I did it. Here is a link to the podcast episode.

https://smartenough.org/episode/140.5

While you’re there, check out the other episodes of Smart Enough to Know Better. I guarantee you’ll learn something, and laugh a lot while doing so.

In the meantime I will keep chipping away at my own writing, and promise to get something new out within the week. Enjoy!

Musings of Christmas with a Three Year Old

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! How are those resolutions going? Did you cave after 7pm and break half of them already? Me too! Now that the silly season is officially over, I can finally find a small bit of time to mull over the things that I have learned in the last week. Christmas this year has probably been the best and maybe the worst so far. Having a three year old can bring the magic of Christmas back into your life, whilst at the same time cursing that you even need to get out of bed in the morning, let alone at 5:30am. To begin with, I suppose I should count myself lucky that even though Stormaggedon knew what Christmas was this year, he still didn’t have the presence of mind to attempt to stay awake until all hours due to over excitement. And even though he still woke us up at 6:00am Christmas morning, that isn’t really different to any other day. I have to say it was kind of adorable that we had to remind him what day it was. “Today? Why today is Christmas day sir!” Exit stage left to the Christmas tree to excitedly dance up and down shouting “Look at all the presents!” Santa did not disappoint this year. And yes, we still believe in Santa in this house, no matter what Neil deGrasse Tyson says.

Preparing for Christmas this year wasn’t so hard as last year. I knew what he liked and what he had become obsessed with. Somehow he found out about the latest craze: Hatchimals Colleggtibles. What are Hatchimals Colleggtibles I hear you ask? What, you don’t know?! Clearly you don’t have a small child in the house. Or at least count your blessings that your small person hasn’t heard of them. Yet. Oh how he spoke of Hatchimals, every single day for weeks on end. Though I must admit it was pretty damn adorable to watch him open his present from my mother, the Hatchimal Hatchery Nursery garden tree playset (I know, “?” Am I right), to cries of “It’s just what I always wanted!” It sure was little buddy, if you can call the last three months “always”. All I know is now my house is filled with small plastic creatures. Everywhere.

Will I ever watch TV normally and in peace again? No. The answer is no.

Christmas Day was pretty much normal for any other Christmas with a young child: Wake up early, presents, try to get them to eat breakfast, fail, struggle to get them out the door to go visit family, be unable to curb their disruptive behaviour in front of the relatives, drink, start crying whilst dissolving into a pathetic mess, declare mournfully through tears that you’re a terrible mother, eat, open more presents. You know, the usual thing.

For those of you nodding your head vigorously along in agreement, here’s a bit of advice that I’ve received from every other mother I’ve spoken to so far: He’s three. He’s supposed to act like a selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic, no mannered, impatient brat because it’s CHRISTMAS.  Kids at this age have no filter. It is not possible for them to consider others, they will only think of themselves. And that is completely and utterly NORMAL. Yeah, maybe some of them do think of others first. If you’re the parent of such a child, congratulations, you lucked out. Though you’ll more than likely say “Yeah, well he’s well behaved at Christmas, but screams like a banshee at bed time and sleeps less than 2 hours a night”. In other words, no kid is perfect, and it’s impossible for them to be perfect 24/7, let alone at Christmas time.

So if you’re feeling stressed about their behaviour remember a couple of things:

1.       You will need to gently remind them to say please and thank you. They will forget. They are over excited. This is normal. They probably have a hard-enough time as it is remembering their manners at the best of times, let along at this time of the year. Be persistent, keep reminding them. One day (hopefully), it’ll sink in and they will miraculously do it on their own….Why are the parents of teenagers laughing at me? Stop it!

2.       Remember that it’s ok to still tell them no, or wait your turn, or to be patient. But if they can’t do any of these tasks, then seriously, it’s Christmas. Let it slide. You’ve got a whole 12 more months to continue to teach them these types of lessons.

3.       Take a deep breath and remember that this is the silly season. They’re going to act very silly. It really doesn’t matter if they don’t eat at the table, or don’t want to wear the perfect outfit you spent hours deciding that they would wear today, or refuse to pose for family photos, or refuse to do that special Christmas carol in front of family that you’ve been practising for the last fortnight. Sit back and watch them play with their toys. You can work on their manners tomorrow.

4.       Every single other parent is going through the exact same thing you are currently going through right now. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

If I could have Christmas day 2017 over again, I’d definitely listen to the above advice. So I guess I’ve got another 357 to prepare for the next one.     

On a side note it’s so far been a week since Christmas and at least he’s still interested in playing with the toys that he received this year, rather than paying attention to them for two seconds and going back to the TV for his entertainment. I’d call that a win.

Edit: OMG, I just found out that there are VELVET covered Hatchimals! I used to be obsessed with those types of figurines when I was a kid! Where do I find them? I must collect them all!…for my son…

My Snowbabies

I’d never heard the term Snowbabies before, so when I saw it in the title of a news article, I was intrigued to learn more about it. Little did I know that I would be reading about something that is especially close to my heart. You see it turns out that I am a parent of Snowbabies. As the mother of an IVF child, I currently have 3 frozen embryos waiting for me in storage. Or as I lovingly like to call them: “My children in the vault” (This of course needs to be said with the flair and accent of Vincent Price). Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly playful, I’ll throw in a maniacal laugh for good measure. I’ve had people to tell me to “Please stop” when I do that. Clearly I make some people uncomfortable. But in reality, my joking is really to cover the anguish, confusion and guilt that I feel over these little potential humans just sitting in a freezer, waiting to be born.

The article led to the website for 60 Minutes, where the story was linked in two separate videos. The episode was called Family Ties. You can watch part 1 here, and part 2 here. Watching these videos brought up a lot of tough emotions for me, and I have to admit I shed a few tears during this episode. That’s not really unusual. Being a parent, I cry at everything now. EVERYTHING.  But never have I watched something with such a profound understanding and sympathy before. For I too suffer from the same dilemma: what do I do with my Snowbabies?

When we first considered IVF there was never really any deep thought into what to do with any leftover embryos. Our end game and absolute focus was just on getting ONE baby. We’d heard so many stories of people who tried round after round with no success, that the idea of achieving a live birth the first time seemed like just a pipe dream. So we were overjoyed to be told that not only had the harvesting and fertilisation been successful, but that we had 3 left over, you know, for later.

And then Stormy came, and he was wonderful and perfect, but a nightmare at the same time. The years passed in a blur, suddenly he’s three and a half, and the thought of having another child is still, to me, a far-off decision. Finding myself and my freedom after such a long time tethered to the house and a child is hard to let go of again, especially when you know what you’re in for the next time round. And yes, I know that every baby is different, perhaps I’ll handle things better next time, it won’t be the same as the first, etc, etc. But the idea that it could be even worse, especially now that I’m older and constantly tired as it is, is a struggle that I’m finding hard to overcome.

In this way I feel selfish. Selfish that I haven’t given my son a sibling. Selfish that I’m letting my little Snowbabies sit on ice, waiting to born, maybe with the possibility of NEVER being born. Selfish knowing that there are so many people out there wanting to have a child and not being able to have them, while I’m hoarding mine over here in the corner hoping no one looks in my direction. Selfish for even thinking that if it comes to it, that I would rather destroy them than give them to another couple.

And that leads me to my biggest guilty hang-up: Not only can I not see these tiny cluster of cells as anything other than a potential human, but that if they were to be born I would always consider them MY children. I wouldn’t be able to just give them away to another couple, just as much as I could never give Stormy away. If I met and stayed in contact with the recipient parents, I couldn’t stand idle by watching them raise what I would consider my child. On the other hand, if I donated them anonymously I would always wonder about the child that I should have had, out there in the world being raised by total strangers. These embryos will one day turn into full blooded siblings of my son. A child of me and my husband. How can I just give that away to another person? The dilemma rages inside me, and I don’t know how to resolve it.

It’s like being stuck in a desert with another person. You’re both thirsty, but I’m less thirsty than my companion because I recently had a drink of water. I’m carrying this big bottle of water in my bag, and my thirsty companion has nothing. But I’m not willing to share my water with the other person, because what if I need the water? And I know I’m not currently using it, because I don’t feel that thirsty yet, but what would happen when I do become thirsty? Then where would I be? Without my water. And even though I haven’t made the decision yet to drink it, I still might. I’m still considering drinking it, just not yet. Then we finally get to the end of the desert, I haven’t used my water at all nor given it to my companion, and in the end decided to just pour it out on the ground.

I discussed my feelings with a friend, using this analogy. She did make me feel better when she exclaimed “Yeah, but we’re not talking about water, we’re talking about giving away your children!” I suppose never having children isn’t really equivalent to dying of thirst in the desert. Though some may disagree.

Some may think that I never stopped to consider the moral implications. And perhaps they’d be right. I was just so damned focused on getting pregnant that consequences be damned. And no, I shouldn’t consider them consequences. Yet I can’t help but see them that way. People may say that if I believe in pro-choice, then why does this have to be a difficult decision. Why can’t I simply look at them as a cluster of cells, and not as a real, live, living baby. Here’s the thing about supporting pro-choice. That’s exactly it: you support the right to CHOOSE. You can support women by fighting for their right to safe and legal abortions. It does not automatically mean that you would want to get one yourself. If I ever found myself in a situation where I would have to consider one, for me it would likely be a horrible and agonising decision. And as the time draws nearer for me to make a decision on what to do with my embryos, my Snowbabies, I feel more and more cornered into the choices I’m going to have to make. Because even though I would really like to have at least one more child, I absolutely do NOT want FOUR children. No. Nope. Nada. Nein. Not happening. Yet what choice does that leave me? Give them away? Or destroy them? The choice is mine. And I’m not ready to choose.

Your Pain is Not Normal

Heading out to a baby shower today, it was lovely to catch up with old friends. As the party started to wind down we began talking of our recent lives, and turned to the ailments that seemed to plague us. The conversation focused on persistent medical problems, some of which had been ongoing, tedious, painful, and in some cases undiagnosed for years. Chronic pain and fatigue were a common factor. From spinal injuries, to fibromyalgia, to persistent hip bursitis, to my own fertility issues, I looked round the room at the faces of my friends and suddenly burst out “Ladies, might I remind everyone that we are only 33. We should be having this shit conversation in our 50’s!”

As we told these stories, one very clear similarity emerged: we were all misdiagnosed by our doctors. Doctors who told us we were being too dramatic. That we were overreacting. That it was just in our heads. To stop worrying. That “It’s just part of being a woman and you should just put up with it”.

Before we go on, I don’t want you to think I’m hateful towards doctors. I’m not, my doctors are wonderful, and I know a lot of other people who have found great doctors and are really happy with them. They are important people in our society who help and heal us. They are NOT just a pawn of “Big Pharma”, ready to just treat us like a commodity, as many internet conspiracy theories would have you believe.

But after reading about the recent class action against Johnson and Johnson in the vaginal mesh controversy, I do begin to wonder how trustworthy our health practitioners can be sometimes.

There are quite a number of articles which describe the horrific details of this disgusting, and thankfully (mostly) banned piece of technology. Class actions have been launched in the US, the UK and here in Australia. Just google “vaginal mesh class action” and perhaps read a few of the first articles, and you’ll get the picture.

Basically vaginal mesh is a medical implant designed to assist with bladder weakness and incontinence. The mesh in implanted in woman who mainly experience pelvic organ prolapse due to age or giving birth. Women who are overweight, or haven’t practised any type of pelvic floor exercises, or women who have had particularly difficult and complicated births tend to be at higher risk to pelvic prolapse problems. So when the mesh was made available as a viable treatment to these problems back in 2007, I can understand why women would jump at the chance of using it.

However problems started arising soon after the implants began circulating with many women complaining of pain so severe they couldn’t work, walk or have sex anymore. Further investigation into the mesh returned claims that the mesh was eroding inside the women’s bodies, poking itself through organs, and perforating the uterus and vaginal wall. Can I just stop here for a moment and just say, holy shit! I read numerous articles and opinion pieces, detailing how doctors usually gave women little or no explanation about what the device was, or what it does. There was never any talk of complications. One particular representative of Johnson and Johnson during the class action in the UK quite happily told the court “That out of all the surgeries performed it was likely only 10 percent of women suffer consequences from the device”

….TEN PERCENT!!! Are you shitting me! Forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you were say, a mortician, and you told me that your ability to tell the difference between an alive person and a dead person was wrong only TEN PERCENT of the time, I’d frankly be more than a little worried!

Ok look, let’s move on. Surely once we knew about how terrible this device was it was removed from the market immediately. Nope! Wrong again. In Australia the device was still being used up to 2013. That is only four years ago. There are women walking around today with a potential time-bomb in their pelvis, because in quite a number of cases it takes a few years before the problems start to arise. In England, where this travesty of justice first started, the NHS has decided it’s ok to keep the bloody thing on the market because they’re not convinced there’s a problem yet. Ok, putting all that aside, we know this stuff is dangerous and is causing terrible detriment to women’s health. Surely that means that when women are going to their doctors to complain about the issue their complaints are being taken seriously and handled with dignity and care. WRONG AGAIN. In this lovely little article, some women in Australia were told by their doctors if sex hurt so much they should just try anal sex instead. Nope. Nope, I’m done.

First things first. Let’s all agree to stop purchasing anything made by Johnson and Johnson. Why?

1.       Because they are horrible to women, as the above attests to.

2.       They test on animals

3.       Their products give you cancer

4.       I don’t need a four, the above three are pretty much enough.

So where do we go from here? Let’s just put a few things into perspective.

Number 1. Never ever decide to accept a less than fulfilling sex life. You deserve to have a good, comfortable and enjoyable sex life. “Oh well, this is just how it is now” if your libido is gone or if intercourse is painful should never be an acceptable way of thinking for any women ever. And I mean that whether you’ve given birth or not. If something physically has happened to change your ability to enjoy sex you should never feel there is nothing you can do about it. Let’s say it together: Every woman deserves a wonderful sex life. Don’t settle for anything less.

Number 2. Your vagina is perfect the way it is. I’ve read a few stories recently about the rise of vaginal reconstruction surgery because women feel self-conscious, they think it’s the wrong shape, or ugly, or just doesn’t look “normal”. Hey guess what? There is no “normal”. You know what’s normal? Your vagina. Women are getting their vaginas bleached or are requesting surgery because their partners have said it looks strange or ugly or weird. If your partner is telling you they hate your vagina because it makes them feel uncomfortable, you have my permission to slap them and move on because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. However if you feel that there is something physically wrong, or you’re legitimately having issues whilst having sex then of course there is nothing wrong with talking to your doctor and getting an opinion on what’s going on. Sometimes surgery can be necessary depending on the issue (like if your cervix has prolapsed).

Number 3. Speaking of your vagina, guess what I learned about today? It’s called The Husband Stitch. After giving birth vaginally you can sometimes tear down towards the perineum. Historically doctors would put in an extra stitch to make the vagina tighter, basically so sex is nicer for the husband. Because aren’t 18 century doctors so caring?! This is so great finding this out 3 years after I myself had to be stitched up (though I will say, everything works better than before down there, so I guess no harm done to me at least).

Number 4. Talk to your doctor. I know how hard that can be and I know how embarrassing it can feel. But nothing is more important than actually talking about it. And when you’ve spoken to them, get a second opinion. And then a third. Keep pushing until you get answers. Don’t just walk off quietly into the night.

Number 5. I would encourage any women reading this who knows they have vaginal mesh to get themselves to a doctor immediately and get yourself checked out. The last thing I would want anyone to become is another statistic in this horrible saga.

 

 

Reducing my carbon footprint: The period undies!

A few weeks ago I posted an article about the tampon tax, where I blasted our government for daring to continue to tax women for an uncontrollable bodily function. I was pretty scathing in the article, and ended up discussing different options to using pads or tampons, not out of any sense of suggestion but to highlight the lengths women would have to go through to not be taxed by the government. And although I was pretty critical, it actually did get me thinking about my carbon footprint, and what more I could be doing to reduce my own personal environmental footprint. So I thought, “Screw it, I’m going to get me some period undies!”

How to begin? Search the internet of course. I was quite dismayed at first then when I typed in “menstrual underwear” into my search engine, that the third top search result was a website for mens underwear.

tefiti

 

But not to be disheartened I continued my search. There were actually quite a few websites dedicated to this increasingly popular trend. Unfortunately all of them had one thing in common: the price. Most pairs of undies looked to set me back at least on average $30 each. Sigh. But as it was pay week I decided to go through with a purchase, telling myself that in the long run it would be worth it. Hopefully.

I settled on ModiBody, an Australian company where the price tag wasn’t too outrageous. The website described at least 6 various types of styles to choose from with varying levels of protection within each category. However, I immediately discovered how popular these undergarments must be, as when I went to purchase on my chosen pairs they were sold out. So I had to go with a slightly different style to what I was after, black and medium absorbency. $99 later (for 3 pairs. I know, ouch) I waited 3 weeks for them to arrive by mail, hoping against hope that they would fit me ok (internet measurements can be tricky at the best of times, and I’m also in denial about my waist size at the moment). Annoyingly, two things that I ordered from America on the same day still managed to get delivered to me at least a week ahead of my Sydney dispatched order.

tefiti

Finally receiving the package, I unwrapped them in great anticipation, inspecting them for quality and durability (and size). They fit well enough, and were just as comfortable as any other pair I own (and in some cases, more so). The lining was thick and reminded me of the cloth nappies I’d been using for Stormy those first two years of his life. But would they work?

New undies in hand, I merely had to wait for “P week” to arrive. Luckily my first day happened to be a weekend, so I didn’t have to deal with the stress of going to work and freaking out about having any unfortunate accidents. I did however still worry about the actual act of just bleeding into my underwear. Was I going to feel “wet” all day? Will it just stop working after a while and just run out the sides? What about the smell? Won’t I smell? But as the day progressed I started to feel better about it. Firstly, no there were no leaks. The underwear was quite absorbent and there was never any danger of it running out the sides. There was a slight wet feeling, but no more so than if I were just wearing a pad (I should probably note at the point that I have never in my life used a tampon. I just don’t like the idea of them and have been quite afraid of toxic shock syndrome, so I’ve just never bothered. Each to their own I suppose). Secondly, why would I smell any different? Even if I were wearing a pad, the blood is still just sitting in there. Ok so the difference is that you have the opportunity to change pads throughout the day, where I was aiming to just wear the same pair of undies the whole day through. But the absorbency of the lining (according to their website) is actually designed to eliminate odours, and did so quite well.

As the week went on I become more comfortable and confident. They were also convenient to wear on the last few straggling days, where I wasn’t getting a full period but just annoying discharge. The type of discharge that I would still need to waste wearing a pad for in order to not soil my undies.

It’s been two months now and both times I’ve felt that the underwear have done their job. I may not have got my money’s worth just yet (one pack of off brand pads cost me less than $20 and can usually last me for up to 3 months), but I’m happy to say it was money well spent. The price unfortunately may be the down side, putting most people off who just may not be able to afford to shell out that much in one month. Plus you really do need at least 3 pairs to get you through your cycle even if you’re going to do a wash in the middle.

On the down side is longevity. The website does states that the quality of the underwear can last anywhere between 6 months and 2 years. Not quite long enough to be worth the money spent in my opinion. And when you’re done with them where do they go? Landfill again? I’m hoping there’s some sort of recycling exchange program in place.

One thing I also can’t attest for is the heaviness of a period. I’m lucky enough that after having my son, and with the use of the contraceptive pill, my endometriosis symptoms have calmed down quite a lot, and I no longer have massively heavy bleeds. Whether someone who bleeds extremely heavily would be game to try them I’m not sure. The website does have options to purchase undies specifically designed for heavy bleeders, but you would have to trust your own body I think on that one.

Would I recommend them? Sure, they’ve been good for me so far. Would I shame you if you didn’t try them? Of course not, and nobody every should! Do what you got to do. One thing I do know for sure though, I’m still not game to try the menstrual cup yet.

The Parenting Paradox

There really isn’t anything like a good SMBC cartoon to give you a laugh.

SMBC

God damn Zach Weinersmith (if that is your real name) you definitely know exactly what it’s like.

Have you ever had those moments where you just question everything you’ve ever done? What am I saying, of course you have! This is your life now. Every second of every day I doubt myself, or question myself, or second guess myself. I call it the Parenting Paradox. The never ending questions I have about raising Stormaggedon, and how well I’m doing, circle around me at every moment. Do I give him enough attention? Am I providing enough physical contact so as to make him feel secure. Or am I hugging him too much, thereby taking away his sense of dependence. Do I do too much for him, or by giving him his freedoms will he develop anxiety? Is he watching too much TV, and will he develop ADHD from it? Am I helping him build a strong character by saying no when he wants to sleep in my bed, or am I contributing to his eventual abandonment issues? Should I praise him more or will that fill him with a sense of over achievement and entitlement? Am I raising him right, or am I just screwing up at every turn?!

Inevitably, my view of the future is of a son who never speaks to me, has either developed severe mental health issues or has turned into a psychopath, has dude-bro entitlement issues, and will think of no one but himself. And that’s even without the normal every day fears like “what happens if he starts taking drugs” or “he might choke on a grape and die!”.

Yes, I am a nervous wreck, and will frequently indulge in the “worst case scenario” game. Anyone else who is just in the slightest exactly like me will understand just how exhausting living our lives like this can be. But live this life we do. And as exhausting as it is, will still manage to function. We still manage to claw our way through the day, making mistakes, making up for them, getting terrifyingly mad at ourselves for the way we acted or behaved when dealing with our children, finding the courage to forgive ourselves, then doing it all again the next day, and every day, day after day, for years to come.

So it may come as no surprise that when I come across things like this on the internet that I get a little mad:

airport baby

And no, not in the way you’re thinking. I’m not judging this woman, but judging why this photo was taken and shared in the first place. This particular image was attached to an article, where the mother in the photo described having to defend herself to the world after the picture went viral, with a caption attached to it: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”- Albert Einstein.

At first glance you could say that it was normal to jump to the conclusion that she had no interest in her child and would have much rather been looking at her phone than looking after her baby. But take a moment to think about what the story behind the photo may be, and you realise not everything is as straight forward as it seems.

The photo was taken at Colorado airport in 2016 after a major computer malfunction. Hundreds of passengers were stranded. The women in this picture had been told at first her flight was delayed, then cancelled, then re-scheduled, then re-scheduled again, and so on and so on. In total she spent up to 20 hours at the airport, just sitting and waiting not receiving any help from anyone. She was alone and exhausted. She had been carrying her baby in her arms for hours. The baby was 2 months old, so how heavy do you think that would be? Six maybe seven kilos? I’m sure we all know what it’s like to carry a baby around for hours on end. What at first seems as light as a feather quickly turns into a lead weight as your arms begin to tire. So spare a thought for the exhausted mum who decided it would be a good idea just to let her baby stretch out on the ground as she texted her family to let them know what was going on. In the meantime some creep decided to invade her privacy and the privacy of her child by taking a picture of them without her permission, then splashes it all over the internet for the world to see with some stupid high-and-mighty quote THAT EINSTEIN NEVER EVEN SAID!

Holy crap it is exhausting being a parent. Not only do you have all those doubting, nagging thoughts of your own to contend with, but now you have to be on your guard every second of every day just in case some jackass with a smart phone decides to record you at your worst possible moments. Did this person even think for one second “Maybe I should go over there and see if she needs or wants help”? Obviously not. It was far easier for them to just take a picture and smugly post about how “this generation today doesn’t know how to interact with each other thanks to technology”, doing so ironically with their smart phone and social media platform.

You know how a picture can paint a thousand words? Perhaps try to remember that the next time you see the split second snapshot of a moment, you should think about what the story behind it is first before jumping to conclusions.

 

Just Say Yes

Three simple words. Just say yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Just three little letters. Say it in your head. Yes. Now say it out loud. Yes. Sounds good doesn’t it. Yes. Kind of makes you feel great. Yes. Saying yes can lead to nice things.

Can I have an ice cream? Yes.

Can I have the day off? Yes.

Can I go see that movie? Yes.

Already you feel like you’re having a great day, right?

Now let’s look at it from another point of view, what happens if you start to say no every time.

Can I have an ice cream? No.

Can I have the day off? No.

Can I go see that movie? No.

You’re feeling kind of shitty now aren’t you. Like saying no is taking away all your fun. Like someone else gets to dictate to you how you spend your time or live your life. Doesn’t feel great does it.

Will you marry me? Yes!

Will our country allow us to get married? No.

Ah-ha! We’ve reached the true meaning behind that cleverly disguised opening paragraph! Well played Truthmummy, well played.

You’ve probably guessed it, but I am a Yes voter. I have in fact already voted yes, and my vote is well on its way to the ABS headquarters. That is if no one has opened my vote and thrown it away! (Before we go any further, FYI, no one at Australia Post is doing that. Not only are voter fraud and mail tampering two extremely serious criminal offences, but I’m pretty sure Australia Post have policy and procedures, and checks and balances in place to prevent such a thing from happening. So seriously, don’t even let this ridiculous conspiracy cross your mind.)

But what you may not have guessed was that many years ago I would have been a no voter. Growing up Catholic, it’s no surprise that I was exposed to the argument that being gay was somehow “against God’s plan”. So for longer that I would care to admit, I too believed that there was something inherently “wrong” or “unnatural” about wanting to be with someone of the same sex. However, after a time I just grew up and changed my mind. I read things, I listened to people, and formed very close friendships with people who identified as queer. I saw love. True, beautiful, natural, normal love that shouldn’t require a label, and shouldn’t need the approval of others. 

I’ve said previously about how it’s important to accept that as adults we grow and mature, and therefore can and should form new and different opinions. Just because you believed something when you were 13 does not dictate that you should still believe in it when you turn 30. Otherwise we’d all still believe in Santa Claus.

And that’s why I decided to write this. Because I’m not just preaching to the choir, or yelling into my bubble, or screaming into the void. If I was able to change my mind years ago, maybe it’s not too late for others to change theirs. So please read to the end, and if you do I promise there will be cookies!*

*ok, not really, I can’t back that up.

So far I’ve seen a lot of craziness from both sides of the debate, but I’d specifically like to address the (mostly insane) main arguments with some of my own answers.

“It’s just a piece of paper!”

If it’s just a piece of paper, then what’s the big deal then? Why do some people get to have “just a piece of paper” and others don’t? Are you scared their piece of paper is going to look prettier than yours? Are you jealous that yours is just on plain paper and theirs is going to be covered in rainbows and glitter? Because you know that’s exactly what’s going to happen as soon as SSM is legalised. Births, Deaths and Marriages will release a limited edition marriage certificate, and you won’t be able to get one!…Oh my God, I just worked out what the Gay Agenda is!

“We don’t need to amend the marriage act. We just need to strengthen the laws surrounding de facto relationships.”

So what you’re saying is you’d rather strengthen the rights of straight people who can’t be bothered to get married over the rights of gay people who we’re not allowing to get married? Uh huh.

“If we let gay people marry, what will that lead to next? Siblings? Animals? Children? Objects? The world will go mad!”

Oh boy, where to start? Firstly, no, the world will not go mad. Not withstanding the precedent set by every other country that has legalised gay marriage where NONE of these things have happened, but that all of these suggestions are in fact illegal. Being gay is not.

“But being gay USED to be illegal.”

Look, I don’t really know anything about the history of the decriminalisation of homosexuality nor anything about the legal precedents of such a thing. All that I do know is that a bunch of people got together and decided, “Actually, two people who love each other regardless of their gender isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe we need to change the law”. And so we did. Not that hard was it?

“But it could lead to paedophilia being legalised!”

NO IT WON’T, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!? Sorry for yelling, but there is literally no sane argument to counter that kind of ridiculous statement.

“I don’t know, if we legalise SSM, maybe we’ll start to feel comfortable in accepting these other types of relationships as well”

Sigh, ok, let’s talk about these “relationships”. Firstly to define a relationship you need what is called CONSENT. Without CONSENT it’s not a relationship. Take children for example. Children by the very definition of what a child is under the law cannot consent. They cannot sign documents. They cannot make legal decisions (like vote for example). That will never change. Animals are the same, they cannot consent. Anyone who wants to argue this by pointing out that parrots can talk and some monkeys can use sign language, seriously what’s wrong with you? Objects cannot consent. They’re objects. No, no just don’t go there. No.

“Ha! What about siblings. They can consent! We could be living in an incestuous nightmare!”

Sorry to break this to you, but have you actually read the Marriage Act 1961? Section 23(2) states:

(2) Marriages of parties within a prohibited relationship are marriages

(a) between a person and an ancestor or descendant of the person; or

(b) between a brother and a sister (whether of the whole blood or the half-blood)

Basically this means that you can’t marry someone by direct decent. What it DOESN’T say is anything about relations through non-decent. Meaning you could marry your first cousin if you so desired. (Why would we want to marry our cousins? Because they’re beautiful!) But it doesn’t stop there. Aunts and nephews, and uncles and nieces can marry under our current law. Can anyone imagine going up to their mum and being like “You know I really dig Uncle John. So guess what? I’m going to be your Daughter-Sister!” Ew, ew, fucking ew. But it’s legal!

“I got a text message from the Yes side telling me to vote yes. My privacy has been so invaded!”

Unlike the privacy of those who the entire country has been asked to vote on whether they should be allowed to get married? By the way, if you’ve ever done one of those Facebook surveys about what Disney Princess/Harry Potter house/Game of Thrones Sex position are you, played an online game app, or ever signed up to a loyalty card, then guess what? Your privacy isn’t so private.

“A child needs a mother and a father!”

This argument is frankly a slap in the face of any person who is already the product of a same sex relationship. Let’s not forget that gay couples can still have children through surrogacy or adoption. Changing the marriage act isn’t going to affect that, but merely strengthen the rights of those families. It is also a slap in the face of any person who was raised by a single parent. And it is most definitely a slap in the face of any person who grew up in a troubled or broken household where one or both of their parents were abusive, but stayed together out of some sense of obligation.

“Won’t somebody think of the children!”

Yes, why won’t somebody think of the children? The children who are currently copping abuse from people who are bullying them for being gay. The children who are being physically attacked for being trans. The children whose government is telling them that their parents aren’t allowed to get married. The children who don’t feel safe to walk the streets. The children who can’t look at social media or anything on the internet because they come face to face with the violent vitriol of people disrespecting their lives. The children who are so depressed, or despise themselves so much that they feel the only way out is it end their lives. You’re right, why WON’T we think of these children?

“I don’t feel safe giving my opinion because when I tell people I’m voting no they’re really mean to me!”

Oh no, people are bullying you for your opinions and lifestyle choices, and you don’t feel safe!? Really, I can’t IMAGINE how that must feel!

Alright so a lot of my commentary may seem a little derisive. It’s hard not to be when I keep seeing these ridiculous lines of attack on people. And that’s exactly what they are: attacks. This isn’t a respectful debate. To debate something, you should have equal weight to both arguments. When one side has spent years holding most of the power, dictating laws, turning their backs on people suffering, and allowing people to feel somehow inferior to the rest of us, then you’re not debating. You’re dictating. You’re dictating to people that they’re not worthy as the same rights as the rest of us.

Everything that I’ve seen advertised on TV so far from the No side seems to be various scare tactics: our children won’t know what gender they are, it’ll destroy the sanctity of marriage, the church will lose their religious freedom, where will this all possibly lead to? Is it time to crack open each other’s skulls and feast on the goo inside? (Ok, probably not that last one).

All I’ve seen from the Yes side is one simple statement: Let’s allow gay people to get married.

So let’s do that. Let gay people get married. Vote yes. It’s the right thing to do.

 

Expectations vs Reality

Why do we have expectations? Why do we put that pressure on ourselves? It’s silly really, thinking that something will turn out one way, or work a particular way, and decide that NO OTHER WAY IS AT ALL POSSIBLE. That’s a very silly way of living life. Especially living life with a toddler.

Take for example my well intentioned idea of trying to keep my house neat and ordered.

IMG_1602.JPG

See those beautiful shelves. Each with its own darling little toy box. Each toy box filled with a specific grouping of toys. One holds the wooden toys. One holds all the cars and trucks and trains. One holds the stuffed animals. I was well into that idea of minimalistic play. Your child will focus and play with one or two things at a time. An ordered mind, free from chaos. It will help them to develop patience, fine motor skills, focus, a quieter and more thoughtful attitude, and the ability to have a larger and longer attention span.

Now look at my well intentioned idea.

 IMG_1683.JPG

 That was taken the first day after the shelves were put in place, so rather it was just a reaction. More than likely Stormaggedon probably just thought “Oo, what are those? I’m going to pull everything out because I can!” It’s not that bad anymore. But now those boxes are no longer sorted. Usually it’s just “Let’s take this off the floor and shove it somewhere out of sight”. Perhaps one day I’ll go back to ordering it again. Perhaps not.

So silly me thought I could try again a little while later with a children’s table.

IMG_1603.JPG

Look at it. Pristine. Simple. Beautiful. I thought, “He can eat his food here from now on and feel like a big person. Perhaps that will help with his fussiness” (lol, see previous post “Dinner. Again. Why”). And then I thought “He will sit here quietly for craft time, creating lovely pictures, using pencils and crowns, and sometimes paint! Maybe even use his playdough”


Hahahahahaha! You idiot.

Ok, admittedly the table got better use after time, and he does eat there, and he does do his creative craft there. That’s fine.

Yet, I keep having these expectations on how life will be and get completely floored by reactions I did not expect.

We recently took a trip to Townsville to visit my in-laws. It was Stormaggedon’s first plane ride. Leading up to the trip, my first and only worry was how he would be on the flight. We planned to not hang around the airport for too long, we came equipped with an iPad loaded with movies that he could sit and watch. We packed some of his favourite toys and books, and prayed he wouldn’t ask for others once we got to the other end. We brought water and snacks and hoped his ears wouldn’t bother him. I hoped against hope that he wouldn’t get motion sick. Finally the day arrived. He was a little troublesome having to line up and wait for boarding (honestly what’s the point of flying with a small child if the airline decided to not bother with “Any families travelling with small children can now board first”). But once we were on board, he loved it. He loved taking off. He loved sitting next to the window seat. He loved the flight. He loved being able to just watch his movie on his iPad. Everything was perfect, it couldn’t have gone better. Then we got to his grandparent’s house, and something happened that I completed did not expect or plan for. He wanted to go home. Immediately. “Can we go now?” was the question we were faced with for two days straight. “We have to go home now!”

“I want to go home now!”

“I don’t want to be here anymore!”

Oh god, we planned to be here for 5 days. What have we done?! Two and a half days later of tantrums and tears he finally settled in. But I still laugh about it, a month later, thinking that we never even planned for what would happen if he didn’t want to be there when we got there. Suddenly that trip to New Zealand I’m planning for the beginning of next year doesn’t look so wonderful after all.

My advice: never expect anything. The reality will always be the opposite. You live in topsy-turvy land now. Just go with the flow, and try not to spend too much time colour coding your toys.

 

Down with the Tampon Tax

I know that this discussion is a little after the fact, but I’ve been sitting on a number of articles for a while now and feel like I need to go back to this one for a bit of re-examination. For those who missed it in June this year the senate voted against amending the GST which proposed to remove the tax from feminine sanitary items such as tampons and pads. This obviously angered quite a lot of people, considering there is no GST applied to things such as condoms, lubricants, and incontinence pads. The backlash of this decision involved a large section of the population accusing the gentry that runs our government of purposefully taxing women for something out of their control. I myself agreed that this was deliberate discrimination against people with uteruses (uteri?).

But being me, I didn’t really participate in many conversations about it, as I don’t particularly like to comment on controversial issues (says the women with her own opinionated blog). However, I couldn’t go past one particular thread on a friend’s page on Facebook discussing the argument. The post highlighted that the choice to use disposable one-use-only items were in fact a luxury, and that there are more environmentally friendly options out there that we should be actively embracing. Most responses to this idea, including my own, were people reacting with “You’re just claiming women are acting entitled” to “So we’re just ruining the environment now”.

So I decided to look at the argument with those two points in mind. One being that women are acting entitled about being taxed on items that the government have deemed luxury. The second that women are just not being conscientious enough about protecting the environment better. As a parent, and a mother specifically, I’m sure you’re all familiar with that never-ending guilt about everything we do, and every decision we make. Piling on “Don’t forget about the environment” is just another layer of guilt we deal with on a daily basis. The many kilometres we drive chewing up petrol to take our precious cargo to this event, or that play date, or that sporting thing, or this dance recital, because screw having to use public transport to do that shit. The many, many disposable nappies we used going off to landfill to pollute the earth for thousands of years because we’re just far too lazy and inconsiderate to bother with cloth nappies. The pre-packed foods and snacks covered with three different types of plastic that will eventually end up in the ocean choking all the turtles to death, because we’re far too busy and important to bother cooking all of our food from scratch. We’ve all been there right.

As for the acting entitled part of the argument, I know that women used to make their own “rags”. With the invention of the tampon and sanitary pad, suddenly our lives became so much easier. It was wonderful. And now we’re acting entitled? When did this opinion creep in? Is this how the debate was handled on the parliament floor? With mostly men debating the issue, did they just decide that we’re being too entitled and not environmentally conscious enough? The more I thought about it, the angrier I got, and ended up formulating the following response, which should be read in the context as being directed to our lovely parliamentarians (note: it has been edited slightly to remove personal references, and to make more contextual sense).

First, where I am supposed to get these reusable sanitary pads from? Because for someone who has been menstruating for more than 20 years (holy crap, I never thought about it in those terms before), I really don’t ever recall seeing these products readily for sale. Is there an aisle in Big W or Kmart? Does Coles stock them next to the Libra products? If you know where I can get them, please direct me to them, I’ll be all for it. However if they’re NOT readily available are you perhaps suggesting I make them myself? Ok, sure, I get that women “back in the old days” used to do that all the time. How many should I make? What fabric should I use, because I’m assuming absorbency will be a factor? Let’s say I need to change 5 times a day on average for 5 days. That’s 25 right? As a mother, and almost full time worker I have to do all the things important in raising a human, cooking, cleaning, going to work, then attempting to be at least a little social, and at the end of the day still pay my husband some attention. When should I be making these items? With what time exactly? Oh, yes I can hear you say that plenty of other women find the time to make clothes from scratch. You should see the women in my playgroup, they’re amazing! But forgive me for not meeting the standard of “Stuff I should be able to do” with the time available to me.

Moving away from actually making these items, how do you suggest I clean them? Should I just throw them in the wash with the regular clothes? Would you find it appealing that my used cloths are swirling around with your crisp white business shirts? Or even just your regular clothes. Clothes you’d probably prefer to not have blood stains on. If not, should I just do a separate wash for them? Forgive me, but an entire wash cycle for 25 pieces of cloth seems a bit much. You know wasting all that water, putting more strain on the environment. The environment I’ve been destroying each month with my disposable waste right? To save on water maybe I should wash them by hand in the laundry sink instead? Scrub them to get all that blood off. By the way, do you have any idea how hard blood is to get out of fabric? Have you ever had to try and do that? Are you in Fight Club? I know you’re not supposed to talk about it, but if you are I assume you would know. But if you haven’t found your local fight club yet, I’m going to assume you have no idea. Also, do you have any idea how different period blood is to say, blood that comes from a cut on the arm. Have you heard of endometrial lining? Do you know how dark and sticky that is? Have you heard of endometriosis, the fertility disease? It’s what I have. It’s shit. Did you know that period blood for someone with endometriosis is very much like a new born baby’s meconium? It’s black and sticky and painful to pass (that’s right, the cervix is SUCH a lovely thing). I guess I can just scrub that all off by hand right? Did I mention before how I was time poor?

But ok, there are other products out there like the menstrual cup. So I’m just supposed to walk out of the cubical at work and clean it out in the sink, in front of other colleagues who may happen to come in at the time. Oh, I should be more embracing of my period and we just need to be accepting of it and not treat it as some dirty taboo subject. Oh, ok I’ll just go back and erase 20 years of social conditioning then. Or what about when I’m out at the shops with my son. Stormaggedon opened the cubical door on me the other week when I was trying to go to the toilet. I cried out to him to wait and shut the door. In turn, he chucked a tantrum right there on the public bathroom floor. And now I’m supposed to deal with that with a cup full of blood in my hands. Fine, maybe not the cup then. Hey, what about those amazing period pants. How great are they? Oh wait, they cost $30 a pair. Sure, perhaps I could afford to get a few. But I’m slightly more well off than the average person, so it’s not really realistic option for quite a large number of women I know.

Now let’s say that I do decide to choose one of the above options. Am I still going to be charged GST for them, or will you finally let me off the hook? Because in the end I shouldn’t have to jump through all those hoops to avoid a tax placed on me just because I have a vagina.

And lastly, landfill. Do you have any idea how much anxiety I suffer over the environment? Constantly. I have started having panic attacks, something I have never suffered from before, because I’m horrified about landfill, the destruction of our environment, and global warming. Telling women we’re just contributing to this landfill because we haven’t made more of an effort is just plain horrible.

So I have a suggestion. All the men who have female partners, raise your hand. Now keep your hand up if you’re willing to do the following: Help your partner make and sew her own menstrual cloths. Be ok with said menstrual cloths being placed in the wash with the regular clothes, or be happy to help your partner scrub them by hand every month. Or help your partner to clean and sanitise her menstrual cups. And most especially help change attitudes at work and social situations if women have little accidents where things get stained because said precautions weren’t as effective as they hoped they would be. Stop treating periods as taboo, something that is considered dirty, or needs to be hidden. Stop shaming women for their natural bodily functions. Still got your hands raised? Good, now we can talk about whether the tax can stay.