Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rape Blog

I have always steered away from blogging about rape as it is a pretty horrible topic.

In April a judge in the UK let a known paedophile off a sexual assault charge using the reason that the 13-year old girl had “seduced” the 24 year old man. This story was mentioned in my Twitter timeline but it was not until later on that evening when the link was retweeted and caused some heated responses on Twitter; that I read the article.

I have spent weeks writing down my ideas about this.

Rape/sexual assault victims were “asking for it”
I think that this is the one “excuse” that attackers or other people use as justification for why rape occurs. It actually makes me want to vomit. I always wonder how people can even use this as justification for the rape or sexual assault of anyone. It seems to apply to women that dress “provocatively” in particular clothing thus “asking” to be raped. Women get chastised for dressing suggestively; when perhaps they just want to dress up and feel nice. As women we are constantly bombarded with images of half-naked women and teenagers wearing the “latest” fashions; so why wouldn’t women want to follow fashion trends? Perhaps men also feel that to be fashionable they need to wear certain things; or look a certain way. Are children becoming over-sexualised in their dress sense? That is a whole other blog.

I remember when I was at university a male political student wrote an article basically insinuating that women that dressed provocatively were “asking for it”. It caused a huge uproar. I remember him well; as a person he made my stomach churn. He followed me off the bus one day. I am sure it was just a coincidence that we both got off at the same stop; but he followed me through a park and he was completely revolting. He made me feel extremely uncomfortable and this was before the article was even written.

Shouldn’t both men and women be allowed to wear what they want? It does not appear that way. Women are judged or portrayed as beguilingly and yet nothing seems to be said about the way men dress. Do men get chastised for dressing in skin tight t-shirts or skinny jeans?

Then there is the alcohol. It would appear that women who have a few drinks and flirt are inviting particular consequences, and if they are raped then it was their fault. Do intoxicated men ever get “told” that they were “asking” for it if they were drunk and are beaten, hurt or even murdered? However, it seems that if women get drunk and something happens then it is a whole other board game.

I am sorry but blaming a victim for being attacked because they were drunk is ridiculous and insulting. An attacker is essentially taking advantage of someone whose reactions are impaired by drugs or alcohol. If the attacker has also been drinking then they still have the ability to be able to “STOP”; just as an attacker that is sober can “STOP”. If you think that people cannot stop themselves from attacking another when they are drinking, then to me this is a little like blaming your past for doing horrible things in your “present”. Surely knowing ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ should prevail despite being drunk?

I do often wonder where people’s friends are when bad things happen. To hark back to the old saying “it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”. If you are partying and everyone is drinking at what point do you make sure that your friends all make it home safely so that no one is left behind, or left in a dangerous situation. Why as a society do some people (and friend’s) turn a blind eye to helping people that are obviously too drunk to be left alone.

When I was about 20 we went to a party at a public hall and there were a lot of underage drinkers there. When the police came people scattered thinking that it was a raid; well it was West Auckland. I was astonished that one guy’s mates left him in a semi-comatose state on the side of the road. Seriously, what the hell? We picked him up and made sure he was okay and then called his friends back to help him.

How about trying a different approach if you see someone that obviously needs help? Try and friend their friends or get in touch with friends/family, or even the police to make sure that they get home safely.

While I do not like the word Slut; perhaps check out some of the information on Slutwalk Aotearoa via Kiwiana’s blog.

Victims putting themselves in unnecessary risk
Time and time again I hear people say “oh if X had not walked down that dark or badly lit alley at 3am in the morning on their own then they would not have been attacked. How do these people respond when someone is attacked in their own home or in the middle of the day? Or when a person is raped at a party when there are people around.

So my question is, is that if we cannot be safe in our own homes then how can we expect to be safe on the street at night or in broad daylight. Attackers grab children/women/men off the street when they are going to work/school or even exercising.

When I was at University I refused to be scared and there were many times that I would walk through Albert Park with my Walkman on (yes this was pre-iPod) late at night after studying in the library. I also walked through the domain a lot around midnight during the week and on weekends. I would walk past the Winter Gardens and along past the hospital, over Grafton Bridge, onto K’Road and then down into town to the Crow Bar. I went a lot of places on my own and people probably thought that I “put myself at risk”.

I walked this route a lot at midnight especially Thursday-Saturday. The thing that makes me shake my head now is that one woman disappeared around this time and has never been found; another was brutally raped and murdered.

It makes me furious that people are not able to walk where they want/when they want without fear of something happening. I would love to be able to walk at night with my iPod on; but I wonder would I be safe if I walked down a darker street?

Actually, rather than write more about it I think that Boganette’s blog ‘Living in Fear’ sums it up.

Victims “seducing” their attacker and thus provoking ‘said’ attack
So the crux of the article about the Paedophile in the UK getting off was the fact that the judge felt that the victim had “seduced” her attacker. Seriously…I was gobsmacked; whether or not a young teen that is barely older than a child seduced a 24 year old man is not the point. In the end he is the adult. She is 11 years his junior and as an ADULT he should have made the decision to walk away.

I do not have children, but I was a child, then a teenager and I am now an adult. I know that changing from a child to a teenager was full on and totally hormonally charged. I was moody and as puberty hit I was probably like most teenagers and interested in sex. As my hormones bounced around and I struggled with understanding myself and my identity and I definitely exhibited the obsessiveness that teenagers often display. Just think of the crushes that you have had on band members or pop stars. We watched Tamara Drewe earlier this year and one of the young girls was 15 and completely obsessed with a band member. Her crush was so intense that she lost sight of rationality and did some scary things that had huge repercussions for the other characters.

I lost my virginity very early and some would probably label me as promiscuous or a seductress. I understand that teenagers can come across as far more mature for their age. I also understand that as a teenager I did pursue boys. But at the end of the day whatever young girls or boys do; if there is an adult involved they have to be the adult and walk away. At about 14 years old I slept with a guy that was probably in his 20’s. I lied to him and told him I was 16. When he found out the truth he was horrified; horrified that I was basically a child, that I had lied to him and that he had essentially committed a crime. Had he known the truth he would not have even pursued me.

At the end of the day rape is not a joke. It is a revolting abuse of control and power and absolutely damaging to victims. As a society victimising the victims is not the way to help at all. They have already been through enough. As a society we need to challenge “rape culture” by making it “not okay” for people to joke about rape or ‘excuse’ rape. We need to be looking after one another and trying to make New Zealand a safer place for everyone.

Note: a few other ideas for blogs came out as a result of this one. One is about victims and over-sexualisation of children.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why I joined Twitter | Take 2

Over the past week or so I have thought about why I joined Twitter. I have actually written about this before on a couple of occasions and you can read about some of the main reasons here.

Last week a good friend talked about the reasons people join or use Twitter and a comment that she made got me thinking. Essentially it was that businesses can often use Twitter for different reasons to individual people.

I joined as an individual and not as a business so these are just my own thoughts and observations. I do not use Twitter for business purposes.

Business Use
  • Networking
  • Building a network of business contacts in similar or complementary industries to you
    • Think about suppliers of produce, coffee or wine (just to name a few). Then think how these businesses connect with Restaurants, CafĂ©’s, bakeries etc.
  • Connecting with existing customers and new customers
  • Dealing with customer complaints
  • Sharing and/or launching a new product or service
  • Enabling smaller businesses to get their product or service out there
  • Sharing your knowledge and skills with others through blogging or video’s
  • Non-profit organisations using Twitter to spread the word, get support and/or financial assistance (if required)
Personal Use
  • Meeting new and like-minded people
  • Connecting with local people if you move to a new town, or move countries
  • Mums and dad’s connecting with other parents. I will always remember Teena’s comment that sometimes having a conversation with adults is nice when a conversation with a 4 year old is not quite enough
  • Finding products or services through Twitter ‘word-of-mouth’ and endorsements
  • Learning new things
  • Being exposed to a huge amount of information in real-time i.e. links to news articles, blogs etc.
  • Organising an event i.e. Wedding, birthday, fundraiser etc.

I know that there are so many more reasons why business and individuals join Twitter. So why did you join Twitter?

Week 17 – w/c Saturday 23rd April, 2011

Saturday (23/04/11) ~ Watched our first ice hockey game at Paradise Ice; so cool (literally).

Sunday (24/04/11) ~ Was a little cold and Ollie didn’t want to get out of bed.

Monday (25/04/11) ~ Anzac Day = nice relaxing day. Max gives me the finger.

Tuesday (26/04/11) ~ First attempt at C25K at the gym. Running + Ness = okay.

Wednesday (27/04/11) ~ Another night of running at the gym and we stopped in Avondale to take a photo of the pretty Avondale spider and her web.

Thursday (28/04/11) ~ Went out to Barbara’s Books and got a new Larissa Ione. HappyNess.

Friday (29/04/11) ~ Decided to watch the Royal Wedding with Mark, Raewyn and Roy. We had bubbles, scones + jam + cream and tea. It was lovely.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Short Sweet and Nice #CupQuake

I did another round of #CupQuake to help raise money for the Red Cross Canterbury appeal. This time around we raised $1,100. I thought that this was pretty impressive given the fact that after the 22nd February a great deal more people organised amazing fundraisers to raise money for Christchurch. 

Last time we raised $900 and I wanted to crack the $1,000 mark. Admittedly I decided to top things up a little bit with a few extra dollars from Mark and I to get it to $1,100…but why not!
Like I have said in the past I cannot help physically as I live in Auckland but I can raise money or donate money.

I really want to thank Claire and the team at the international travel college of New Zealand who managed to sell almost 300 cupcakes.

To the other amazing people and businesses who took the time to sell these cupcakes and those that purchased them to eat. I cannot thank you enough.

So thank you to my team of ‘sellers/buyers’:
Best Blooms Florists (Jo and her team)
Shona, Raewyn, Yvonne, Kath, Rachel, Cath, Hilary and Sharleen

I also want to say a HUGE thank you to my friends Kathryn and Colleen who let me use their kitchen at Delish Cupcakes and offered “post-it” notes of encouragement. Baking over 500 cupcakes at home would have been a mission that I just cannot bear to think about.

Last not but certainly not least my thanks goes to Anne (Kathryn’s mum) who helped me to bake and kept me on track and “sane”. I can now honestly say that I know exactly how much filling to put in a cupcake case so that it does not turn into a muffin.

To the Cantabrians, I hope this money goes a little way to helping you get back on your feet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Things that make you go mmm...

"Friends, genuine friends, are attracted by a warm heart, not money, not power. A genuine friend considers you as just another human being, as a brother or sister, and shows affection on that level, regardless of whether you are rich or poor, or in a high position; that is a genuine friend."
Dalai Lama

Late last night a good friend sent me the above quote. It could not have come at a better time. I won’t lie I have had a pretty bad few days culminating in a particularly horrible Monday. Sometimes I think that it has to get worse before it gets better and yesterday was nasty.

I have read this quote a couple of times since my friend sent it and it made me realise that there is so much “good” in my life including amazing friends, family and Mark. So while there are dark days there will be far more light days to come.

I know that I am not a bad person nevertheless I know that I am far from perfect. I have made mistakes. I have done things to hurt people whether intentional or not and I am not friends with people for what I can get out of the friendship.

I need to focus more on my day-to-day life and less on things that really have little or no meaning. I need to focus on the things that bring me joy and make me happy. As life is far too short to dwell on the things that I cannot change or the things that make me sad and angry.

So starting today I am going to “choose my attitude” (‘Fish Philosophy’) and start enjoying my life again. I am going to take the time to appreciate the beautiful things and people in this world rather than feeling sad and angry at the darkness and horror of our world. I will walk through rose gardens, I will go to the beach, I will cuddle my cats and ultimately I will appreciate life. Oh and I will have glitter, fairy lights and bubbles...because those things make me happy too.

So thank you to my friend for your wisdom and kindness.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Love Dreams (20th February, 1986)

Lovely cream coloured clouds drift past us
Along the golden sunset
With love for me from you
As we run through the sand
Love tunes come to our ears
Heart to hear we whistle
And our hearts beat out a tune

As we sit the stars may shine
A silver glow
To our hearts desire
Then we kissed by moonlight
The rays of the golden moonlight
Swept through us
The songs that mend our love

The moon bids us goodbye
As it goes down the skyline
Hand and hand we walk
Towards the rising sun

Note: I wrote this when I was about 10 1/2 years old. My 'written expression' school book is one of the only books I kept from school.


I have had a week of ups and downs. I am not sure if it’s something to do with the weather changing or the moon or the planetary alignment.

The Bad
I feel like I have gone backwards a little. I feel sad and a bit flat. I hate it. I feel disassociated from my sense of self. This is not me. I used to be such a happy person and in the past year I found that sadness and rage are slowly creeping in. Also, there is a huge sense of self-doubt.

I have stopped trusting my instinct and that is a bad thing. I trust easily and without reservation and that turned out to be a double-edged sword. So now I feel lost. I do not think I am a bad person, but I am not without my own faults. You can read my other blogs for those. I have always been a very open person but perhaps I need to be more closed. I also do not think I am friends with people for what I can get out of them.

I am slowly hardening myself to the fact that Mark and I will probably never have children. All those years in my late teens – early 20’s when I tried not to get pregnant (and not wanting children “ever”), and now it is the one thing that I would love and cannot have. So I will be a great aunty to my nieces and nephews and love my friends children without restraint.

The Good
I had a good week at the gym and managed to go 3 days instead of the normal 2. I tried running using the C25K concept and it was surprisingly good. This week I am planning to start the program again and do 3 days and then 2 days of “other” exercise.

Also, I have discovered Parenthood with Lauren Graham. I am actually really enjoying it. It makes me laugh. It makes me cry. It’s like a ‘mash up’ of Modern Family vs. Brothers and Sisters.

I have finally confirmed both venues for Mark’s forthcoming birthday celebrations and just have to do one final check and then we can send the invitations out. I am excited about this even though I do not know if Mark is at the moment.

It was my nephew’s second birthday yesterday. He is so adorable.

I enjoyed watching Steph from Available Light taking photos of Kathryn and Colleen from Delish Cupcakes. I cannot wait to see the photos.

With some great advice from Steph I am starting to sort out our photos into some sort of manageable order. It also means scanning the ‘non digital’ ones and keeping these safe in acid-free paper and boxes.

I love the song ‘Happiness’ by Alexis Jordan.