Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Election looms...some thoughts.

Disclaimer: These are my opinions, you are not obliged to like them. I don't mind you arguing them as long as you remain civil. If you are a dick to any of my friends in comments, I will verbally eviscerate you.

EDIT: Well I'm part way through one topic.... this is clearly not a one off blog, but will have to be a series. Ranging through various areas of government purview.

I expect a shit tonne out of our new government, to achieve it all they'd need to find some money - there's a couple of very good places to get this money, but certain people are very reluctant to even consider either one. We'll get to that later.

A little bit of what I feel we need to do to make this country better than it has ever been before. As good as the *good old days* but without the raging misogyny & rampant racism.

Let's start with my major bugbear. Education.

-Teachers are not paid enough, and have to work far too many hours. We need a better student to teacher ratio in all schools and we need to find a way to make sure that ALL SCHOOLS PROVIDE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to their students. I shouted about this. It matters. In our current situation, low decile schools are underfunded and the families of students cannot afford to make up the short fall.
-We need to provide food options in schools with students struggling with poverty, students who are not receiving sufficient nutrition cannot learn at the same rate as the properly fed.
-Schools need good fun programs as well as good learning programs. Music; Outdoor and Indoor sports; Something like a Wii system for the more gamer oriented for fitness and coordination, without the stigma of being crap at sport.
Subject material taught at all levels need to be re-examined. Primary school & Intermediate schools should be about learning basic life skills. Yes Math & Reading & Science, but also cooking, housework, basic DIY, gardening and last but definitely not least COMMUNICATION. All the things that prepare you for actual day to day life. I've probably missed some. Comment away. Then you hit Secondary School with basic skills to look after yourself and High School can focus on building your knowledge base. Hagley Community College is a great example of an excellent selection of learning possibilities. There young adults get a chance to take a look at a lot of options and maybe get a feel for what they want to become.
-Get rid of BLOODY NCEA. Or at least make it into something that works, but given how bollocks it appears to be scraping it altogether and building a better system seems the better way to go.
-NO MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS, and get rid of any currently operating ones that are not achieving at an acceptable level. Where acceptable is decided by actual education experts not twatty Ministers who KNOW NOTHING JON SNOW.
-Tertiary Education needs to be much cheaper or even free (there's a part of me that doesn't want to admit it but NZ First's idea "Introduce a universal living allowance, and a student debt write-off scheme that would give students free tertiary study by requiring them to work in NZ for the same as their length of study." is actually quite appealing to me. It encourages students to stay here using the skills they learned here for at least a while to get their debt written off. And therefore, discourages students getting their degree and disappearing overseas with their new skills, leaving us with a skill shortfall. This could also be addressed by doing something about the fairly shoddy entry level salaries. What's the point in staying here if you can nick off overseas and earn enough to pay off your student debt in short order and then be much better off?

Let me explain why I think we need to make these changes and why they matter so much to me. Because I believe (and suspect if I could be bothered looking there would be science to back me up - I'm so freaking lazy, and this is getting super long already) A high level of education across the population makes for a happier and healthier public. It lowers crime, and therefore prison populations. It allows people to be pickier about finding a job they actually WANT to do rather than just taking what they can get. When did we start thinking any old job would do? Why shouldn't we all have a reasonable shot at being happy in our work? Yes, in times of desperation, you take what you can get - but doesn't it feel to you like it's been that kind of desperation for a long time now. Nine years at least. *Zing*. There are so many areas that I very strongly suspect will be improved by higher levels of education across the population. Household economics. Of course poor people suck at budgeting (*not all poor people*) most of them haven't been taught how to budget properly, and their income is low enough that there is no buffer for unexpected situations. Mental Health, how many people in this country are depressed because they can't work / hate their job / are ill enough that certain work is awkward but with the RIGHT help would be able to find work and become productive again / because poverty is squeezing them tighter and tighter / because hospital waiting lists, even just to see a specialist for POTENTIAL diagnosis are ENTIRELY MAD/because they could be MORE than what they are and they know it?

Aside: If I really wanted to watch a few politicians go through the motions of pretending to see what it's like to be poor, forget this spending a night on the streets bollocks - the thing I would like to see is for them to actually stay in there normal home situation, but with only just enough to make it work, or even a bit under that. For let's say 8 weeks. That should give them the opportunity to see all the fun of robbing Peter to pay Paul and suddenly having a bill you don't have spare money for. Maybe sneak in and break their car so they have to have it serviced. Enough food budget for basic food for the number of people in the house. Because they learn nothing until they have to take away a need to pay another need. Until the kids are whining that they're bored with marmite sandwiches. And because they can't have whatever they want whenever they want. It's tiring, and depressing, saying no to your kids all the time. Saying, I'm sorry that's all we can afford. I can only hope the get a nasty cold or something so they can know the joy of feeling like total garbage but knowing that going to the doctor means half (sometimes more) of the weeks food budget gone. 
No more free lunches at work. Because seriously fuck all places provide any kind of free food to their workers. The best place I ever worked provided fresh fruit every day and sometimes some treatier things. It was not only wonderful it also quickly identified people who were struggling financially. But they are the exception to the rule, most workplaces don't give a rats ass if you ate lunch or not.
No more maid to clean the house. No pool boy or cook, if you're up to that level of wankery. No extras. Just you and your immediate family, with not quite enough money each week to get everything done.
Don't tell me I'm exaggerating - almost every beneficiary in the country is living like this, some in much worse situations. I just had to mess about moving money around and putting off payments to make sure the cats insurance payment went through. (Tell me I shouldn't have a cat then... she halves the amount of pain medication I need to take, and gives me unconditional love when I need it. I need a cat.)

That was WAY more than enough aside. This has been part one, in what at this rate may be an infinite series of, we can do better, political outbursts. No, I'm not telling you where the money is coming from yet. I'm sure some of you can figure out the 2 primary options without much difficulty.

Tomorrow: The Environment & Climate Change. Please be aware that suggesting climate change is not a thing may lead to mockery.

Peace. Out.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pick your battles

Someone said to me today. Pick your battles. But the interesting thing is: I was. 

I was very deliberately picking this battle, for many reasons.

A celebrity post on Instagram. It was a pretty cool video of a guy doing some form of dance-o-batics on the F train. 


There was a woman sitting on her own, minding her own business, trying to read her book. So intently trying to read her book that I suspect she was actively trying to avoid interacting with the dude and his cool dancing. Which even he seemed to get - there's a point were he knocks her book and she's forced to rearrange herself and looks up, and the dude apologies [I think, it's tricky to tell exactly what was going on]. 

But Jonny Lee Miller felt the need to tag this post [and another of the same guy straight afterward] suggesting that she needs to look up. 1st post Instagram Link #1 #jeezladywiththebooklookupforasecondthiskidsprettygood Yeah, the young man is pretty good, but does that actually create an obligation to watch?  No, no it doesn't. You don't know what her reasons are for not wanting to watch, so maybe assume she has some and leave it alone. 2nd post Instagram Link #2 #mustbethebestbookeverwritten 

Jonny, I love you dearly & yes Jonny I get that you were just messing about. But Jonny do you get that you have no idea what her situation might have been? Do you get that she has NO obligation to watch, appreciate, give any kind of a fuck, if she doesn't want to? 

This comes under the same heading of the several zillion guys every day who feel the need to tell women to smile [obligatory *not all men* to shut that irrelevant argument down before it starts]. [less obligatory but because I know the truth *yes, some women too*].

I said I picked this battle on purpose, I did. Because another poster also jumped in to defend the lady with the book. And Jonny for reasons I cannot fathom threw the sexism card at her.... Um what? All I can say is, she didn't seem like she was being sexist, but now you kinda do pal. I think he misconstrued what she said, I hope that was it - and that maybe this can be a learning experience. Maybe don't jump in with both boots 'til you're sure of what you're doing

Total strangers may be super entertaining, time may let me find out that they're the nicest guys in the world. But time has already told me that it's actually pretty tricky to tell the good ones from the bad, and that the bad ones can turn really really bad very quickly. It can turn from hey girl lift your head out of that book, to DO AS YOU'RE FUCKING TOLD, BITCH, in the blink of an eye. 

And guys who are standing up to say, hey he was only trying to be friendly are not helping. Maybe help with, hey dude - it's no big deal, maybe she's not in the mood for your act today. 

If I just want to be left alone, then insisting that I drop what I'm doing to salvage  your ego seems a bit self centred and sad.

I hate to blow a good joke, but maybe think about what the rest of the situation might be and realise that if the joke isn't funny for the person you're ragging on, then maybe it SHOULDN'T be funny for everyone else. Maybe just leave it out.

Peace. Out.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unclear on the consent*

We discussed consent issues around a single example last night, example follows:

"Mary and Bob know each other from class, and they decide to go out together one evening. They go to a bar, and each consumes several drinks. Mary goes to the bathroom, and when she comes out she has her shirt untucked and her bra is off. She suggests they go back to her room and order dinner in. They eat dinner and lie next to each other on the floor. Bob caresses her face and kisses her. Mary enjoys it and kisses him back. Bob then carries Mary to the bed and kisses her again. Mary realizes what is happening and says, “No, I don’t want to do this.” Bob removes all of her clothes. Mary mumbles, “No,” very softly and then realizes that she will probably have to give in."

Now to me, this incident is fairly straightforward... Mary was interested in SOME sexual play, however, no conditions for boundaries had been established prior so they are in what I like to refer to the "Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals" zone (it's a nautical flag, for those who wonder where that phrase came from). IE: don't assume you know where this is going, and pay attention to what your partner is doing/saying. Mary pretty clearly backs the fuck up to NO once it becomes obvious Bob wants sex. Mary never said one way or the other whether she did, but her NO removes any implicit consent there might have been. From here on out it is straight up rape.

Several interesting things came out of discussion of this scenario. Firstly it seems like people are willing to see her initial actions OVER her later words. There's a lot of 'the implicit consent in removing her bra' (if that's consent for something then I dare a man to wear an underwire all night without getting bored with it and stuffing it in his manbag).
A lot came back to she lead him on (variously, drinking with him in the first place, removing the bra, going back to her place... all of which don't actually involve consent at any point) setting aside what may and may not be consent.... who gives a shit, when things got heavier than she wanted SHE SAID NO. The end. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Honestly the conversation we were having felt a little like beating my head against a wall. Because *side b* kept bringing the debate back to metaphors to try to clear things up from his perspective, but without understanding that apples are not oranges. A driving situation will literally NEVER correlate to a sexual assault situation. Rather than discussing things that were already on the table, metaphor after metaphor was presented to show why the Mary and Bob story was unreasonable.

My personal unfavourite of these involved removing cake consent from a 5-year-old and expecting said 5-year-old not to chuck a fit. 

Five-year-olds are not grown-ups, the expectations on their ability to control themselves is a bar FAR lower than that of an adult. And most importantly HUMAN SEXUAL BOUNDARIES ARE NOT CAKE GODAMMIT. 

Consent should be an easy issue. When you have consent you may proceed. When you don't you may not. If you had consent but it is then removed you no longer have consent and need to stop (by all means feel free to discuss this at this point IF YOUR PARTNER IS COMFORTABLE TO, but remember that they have every right to change their mind about this and pleading, coercing and threatening ARE NOT THE SAME AS DISCUSSING. Anything that attempts to bend the will of the other person should be OFF THE TABLE RIGHT NOW.)

The TEA consent guide remains my favourite for establishing just how OBVIOUS consent rules should be. Here is the TEA consent guide 

I understand that a lot of people are very confused by the consent subject, probably not aided by the heavier end of the scale, which even to my eye feels rather like turning sexy fun times into a depressing checklist. 

There's literally NOTHING wrong with this checklist but it still feels more like going through the cleanup process after accidental radioactive contamination that a date. On the whole, I'd rather people learn about consent before consent ever becomes an issue, and then not be in a position to need a checklist because checking in with their partner has become second nature. This next one, however, is very important.

The subject of alcohol also came up... as an excuse for Bob's behaviour AND as a reason why Mary should have taken more care. Ask yourself... HOW DRUNK WOULD I HAVE TO BE TO NOT UNDERSTAND NO?

This argument always seems like willful ignorance to me. I didn't want to hear no so I was too drunk to hear no. "Drinking lowered my ability to see I was doing something wrong". It's the same ridiculous reasoning for people getting behind the wheel of a car drunk - and nobody thinks that makes any sense, so why should it with sexual assault? If I can be expected to remember not to drive a car because I'm too drunk why am I not similarly considered capable of keeping it in my pants? And when I get caught drunk driving I suffer the consequences, but when I'm caught drunk fucking suddenly it's all "how short was her skirt" & "how much had she had to drink". Does anyone ask if the car was too sexy to resist? Does anyone take seriously the "I needed to drive home because [insert reason of choice]" arguments? 

Sexual assault is far too often treated like a grey area, and the wrong things are being looked at. If sex was had and consent wasn't... rape happened. The grey area discussion can come AFTER that decision, because there are some things that may mitigate, but - and this may be the biggest but in the history of legal arguments - they don't mitigate the rape bit, they may mitigate the sentencing decision afterwards, but sex without consent should absolutely always be considered rape.

The last thing I want to deal with is the end of the example:

"...Bob then carries Mary to the bed and kisses her again. Mary realizes what is happening and says, “No, I don’t want to do this.” Bob removes all of her clothes. Mary mumbles, “No,” very softly and then realizes that she will probably have to give in."

Some people see this as implied consent. It is NOT consent on any level. Mary has said no. Twice. She has had her clothing removed without her consent and is about to be raped against her consent. Her resignation to the fact of this is NOT IN ANY WAY CONSENT. Not fighting back is not an argument for "she probably wanted it anyway" or "she didn't not want it *enough* to fight him off" or whatever bullshit. These situations turn aggressive really quickly. Maybe Mary felt that continuing to say no in the face of his obviously not taking it for an answer was going to lead to a beating, or worse. Women don't "give in" in these situations because we've changed our minds, we just know the futility of trying to stop you once you've stopped listening. 

Maybe think about this if you don't grasp the where the line is. If you're having sex purely for your benefit, with no regard for what the other person wants, or what enjoyment they are getting out of the experience, maybe reconsider your behaviour. Because I absolutely do not ever want to be having sex with someone who doesn't care whether I'm enjoying myself or not. And WTF is wrong with you if you're happy with getting your rocks off at someone else's expense?

Just a thought.

Peace. Out.

*old joke for people who remember the "Unclear on the concept" cartoons