Marriage Equality Essay

Last year I took a subject as an elective called Sex, Gender, Identity. It was an introductory subject that encouraged us to explore different aspects of those three things and how “the personal is political” (original quote author unknown). The final assignment for the subject was an essay which we could choose the topic from a list. I chose to examine marriage – the feminist critiques and marriage equality movement. The resulting essay gained me the highest mark I’ve ever received on an assignment. But more importantly, the research I did educated me about the topics and reaffirmed my stance on the issue. Below is an edited version of that essay. Please read.

I’ll note that I’m in a privileged position in writing this article. I’ve been raised in a heterosexual environment, I’m in a heterosexual relationship and I’ve had to learn about these things second-hand. So these are my opinions backed by evidence collected from academic sources as well as personal ones.

 

Marriage: an institution which involves formal recognition of the union of two people, conferring legitimacy on an intimate relationship (3). This formal recognition usually grants a range of social, religious and legal benefits, rights and responsibilities (3) and has existed in some form for centuries (14). At the moment, the most easily-recognised and legitimised marriage is monogamous and opposite-sex – it’s still considered the norm. Challenging this norm, same-sex marriages have begun to be recognised in many countries after the hard work and activism of advocates. For many, this is a positive step for LGBTIQA+ people and society as the gains are seen to outweigh potential negatives. However, other activists are not as sure, as they take a more radical view that marriage should be either changed completely or left behind together. I investigated these two competing discourses and drew conclusions for this piece.

Firstly, the positives. 🙂 It has been suggested that access to marriage is tied, metaphorically and/or physically, to full citizenship rights in society (9). Also, as the phrase, “equal before the law” suggests, in democracies, the law is a place where all citizens should be equal (8). Hence, marriage is seen as a pathway to acceptance and legitimacy, a way of demonstrating that what people feel for each other is real and valuable. A chance to throw a big party and show how much they love each other. The exclusion of LGBTIQA+ people could be and has been argued to be an intolerable discriminatory practice. It has been suggested that in order for LGBTIQA+ rights to advance, all formal barriers to full equality must be overcome (2)(4) before or while other steps are taken – like fixing anti-discrimination laws (10). Due to the prominence of marriage in society, it can be seen as symbolic of other rights and some have argued that governments which do not afford equal respect of and protections for both LGBTIQA+ and heterosexual intimate relationships enable and participate in systemic homophobia and heterosexism (4). It has also been argued that this inequality harms LGBTIQA+ people in substantial, material ways – from subtle exclusion to violence (1)(2)(4). I agree with this – I’ve read very compelling personal accounts from people over the last few weeks and before that (not to mention hearing the lived experiences of my friends) which demonstrate the truth of it (6) (11). I also agree with the contention that one way of combatting the harms is to work towards full equality, including in marriage, for all regardless of sexuality. Research shows that there are particular social, legal and psychological benefits to this.

Marriage can reinforce partnership bonds, facilitate parenting and generate levels of social support for those who participate (7). LGBTIQA+ participation in marriage widens the scope of marriage norms, as non-traditional roles and practices are expressed, intentionally or otherwise (1)(7), providing additional choices and freedoms. For example, with children. It could be said that the very presence of LGBTIQA+ people and families in so-called public spheres changes and destabilises the unconsciously accepted heteronormative view (1) of society. Hmm, maybe that’s why the conservatives get so grumpy about it. Well, they can suck it up, because change is a thing that happens. Changes to societal views of family and so on include what is seen as normal by children – everything from the gender of their parents and/or extended family members, to how gendered or egalitarian their household is. Research shows that in observing and learning about these practices and by educating each other, children become directors of change (1). After all, we’re products of where we come from, influenced by the personal world(s) we inhabit. And if those worlds are more equitable, so much the better. The presence of children also highlights discriminatory practices which occur within the current system which privileges marriage, particularly heterosexual marriage, over other relationships (4). To many LGBTIQA+ people, the idea of only being allowed something separate-and-different to marriage does not work if it’s not seen as legally and emotionally equal to it. Even if/when marriage alternatives were given equal rights, benefits, protections and obligations as marriage, it can be argued that LGBTIQA+ people are still discriminated against simply because they’re still unable to choose between marriage, a civil partnership, or something else (14).

But what about the feminist/queer case against marriage? Feminists have criticised marriage as being oppressive to women due to patriarchal structures of power for many years (14). These power structures are those which reinforce a socially conservative breadwinner model (5) – an opposite-sex relationship of mandated monogamy, working husband and dependent wife bearing the brunt of housework and child-rearing (9). If you think about it, this model has been – and still is – at the core of public policy for some time (5)(15). Non-traditional families – such as single parents, mixed-race partnerships, and LGBTIQA+ families – challenge the model. You can tell this from the way conservatives react. However, I’ve read concerns about whether the model is really being challenged (15). There’s an argument that marriage equality campaigns are being turned into binary debates of for and against. These leave little room for valid critiques of the social and economic institutions of marriage, and how the societal privileging of marriage marginalises other intimate relationships (9)(13). The argument continues that while the potential benefits of marriage should be recognised, the next or concurrent step should be to push for those rights to be expanded to all intimate consensual relationships. There’s a risk, activists argue, that not doing this would go against hard-fought-for feminist freedoms (12) and create a new tiered system within the LGBTIQA+ community of the socially acceptable marrieds held above the rest of the queers. This could lead to a reinforcing of conservative heteronormative marriage ideas, merely expanded slightly.

Despite this, there’s no question that many LGBTIQA+ people do want to get married (4), even as they recognise its pitfalls. Marriage as an institution isn’t necessarily seen as a good thing – but the equality before the law is (2). Marriage is a complex institution and we should resist the urge to press it into one box or another (5). If and when marriage equality becomes reality, then the contradiction of being separate-but-equal (13) is removed. It then becomes a choice for all, heterosexual and LGBTIQA+ alike, as to whether we’ll participate in marriage and how we could or would change the institution for the better. As it currently stands, some of the population have only a restricted choice and how is that choice then free or fair? Alongside this, we then work for the expansion of legal and economic protections, currently enshrined in marriage, to all relationships so that all intimate consensual relationships are valued (5). We could even go further and ensure that welfare rights are fair for all regardless of relationship, employment and monetary status (5). This then challenges the conservative understanding that defending the rights of women, LGBTIQA+ and other marginalised groups undermines committed caring relationships. At the same time, it dismantles the patriarchal heteronormative one-size-fits-all approach and works towards a more caring society, away from the outdated universal breadwinner model to a universal caregiver one. In this latter model, LGBTIQA+ people would be just as accepted for caregivers and caregiving as heterosexuals (5). This opens up possibilities for greater awareness on and attention to other intersectional issues. After all, attending to one issue does not prevent us from working on others and “those of us who are interested in fighting for justice and the flourishing of sentient beings in any of these contexts should be interested in fighting for justice in all of these contexts” (4, p. 77).

 

In other words, I’m in favour of marriage equality, as I’ve previously discussed. Btw, for me, my religious beliefs influence that view positively, as I’ve mentioned before as well. I’ll be unpacking that side of the argument soon too. If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

 

References (these got a little muddled when rewriting this into a post, but I’d really encourage you to check them out):

  1. Bernstein, M. (2015). Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of the LGBT Movement. Gender & Society, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 321–337, DOI: 10.1177/0891243215575287
  2. Bevacqua, M. (2004). Feminist Theory and the Question of Lesbian and Gay Marriage. Feminism & Psychology, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 36–40, DOI: 10.1177/0959-353504040300
  3. Budgeon, S. (2009). Marriage, in Encyclopaedia of Gender and Society, O’Brien J, (ed.), vol. 2, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 505-508.
  4. Callahan, J, 2009, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Why It Matters—At Least for Now’, Hypatia, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 70-81.
  5. Ferguson, A, 2007, ‘Gay Marriage: An American and Feminist Dilemma’, Hypatia, vol. 27, no. 1, pp.39-57.
  6. Gadsby, H. (2017, August 17). “Probably a good time to repost my anti-plebiscite piece…” Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhannahgadsbycomedy%2Fposts%2F10155675309518000
  7. Green, AI, 2010, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Lesbian and Gay Spouses Marrying Tradition and Innovation’, Canadian Journal of Sociology, vol.35 no. 3, pp.399-436. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au/stable/canajsocicahican.35.3.399
  8. Harrison, JB, 2015, ‘At Long Last Marriage’, Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, vol. 24, no. 1, pp.1-60.
  9. Josephson, J, 2005, ‘Citizenship, Same-Sex Marriage, and Feminist Critiques of Marriage’, Perspectives on Politics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 269-284.
  10. Lawrie, A. (2017, July 29). A quick guide to Australian LGBTI anti-discrimination laws [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/07/29/a-quick-guide-to-australian-lgbti-anti-discrimination-laws/
  11. Lawrie, A. (2017, August 9). 2,756 Days. Frustration and love [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/08/09/2756-days-frustration-and-love/
  12. Marso LJ, 2010, ‘Marriage and Bourgeois Respectability’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp.145-53, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990572
  13. Merin, Y, 2002a, ‘Chapter 2: The Changing Institution of Marriage and the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 6-60.
  14. Merin, Y, 2002b, ‘Chapter 10: Alternatives to Marriage and the Doctrine of “Separate but Equal” ’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 278-307.
  15. Wilson AR, 2010, ‘Feminism and Same-Sex Marriage: Who Cares?’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 134-145, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990560
  16. Young, C & Boyd, S, 2006, ‘Losing the Feminist Voice? Debates on the Legal Recognition of Same Sex Partnerships in Canada’, Feminist Legal Studies, vol. 14, pp. 213–240, DOI 10.1007/s10691-006-9028-8.

 

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#MIV2018 Update: Registration is OPEN! 

I’m so excited right now. If you’re interested, follow the links below from the email I received overnight. I’ll be doing that tonight after placement. It’s going to be a blast. Come along!

____________________________________


From the Convenors’ desk…

Hi groovers,

Exciting things are happening in Melbourne. At our AGM a few weeks ago we welcomed Cameron, Gemma and Justina to the committee and we’re glad to have them on board.

And now, for the news you’ve all been waiting for. We are so incredibly excited to announce that registrations for MIV 2018 are officially open!


Register now for the festival and secure your place in the Summer of 69.
We can’t wait to see you – there’s only 6 months to go!

Peace and love,
Alex and El xoxo

MIV2018 Fundraising

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Hi all.

Life’s been busy lately, as I alluded to last week.

Here’s another MIV update – a particularly focused one.

To recap what I’ve said before: intervarsity festivals bring together choristers from universities across the country for ten intense days of singing and socialising with a major concert at the end. My first festival, last year’s CIV2016, was one of the best experiences of my life and I made an amazing group of friends that just keeps getting bigger. Within the IV movement, I found my tribe. And I really want to help like-minded people find theirs. The IV movement is like one big family – we all have our little differences, which balance and complement each other. Within our IV family, people are free to be themselves. Sounds like a cliche, but I really believe it.

Atm, MIV2018 are launching a fundraising campaign. We have an ambitious target of $20,000, to achieve in four weeks. So tonight we have a Thunderclap to boost our notice. Want to support us in that? It’s suuuuper easy. Just click on this link, choose whether to support it with Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr or a combination, click support and done! It’ll post on your behalf at 18:00 AEST.

We also have a fundraising page over on Chuffed. Feel free to support us in that regard if you wish as well – there are perks which are outlined below. 🙂 If you don’t want to or can’t, no worries – but do you think you could pass the chuffed link on? That’d be fantastic. If you want more information about the IV movement in general or MIV2018 in particular, check out aicsa.org.au and miv.org.au respectively. Registrations for MIV2018 open soon – sign up to the mailing list if you’re interested!

I can’t wait until the festival. It’s going to be great! For another example of what IVs mean for people, read on below about my friend and fellow organiser, Alex.

Alex graduation.jpg
Meet Alex.
She’s been singing with MonUCS, her local university choir, for 11 years now. Alex joined MonUCS on her first day of university, and it changed her life for the better. Singing in a choir gave her confidence and a sense of achievement. When Alex heard about the Intervarsity Choral movement she felt a little shy but decided she wanted to attend a Festival, and her life changed forever. Alex has friends all over the country, an opportunity to travel, to sing, learn and spend time with passionate, like-minded individuals. Alex is a high school teacher now and shares her love of singing with her students.
To help other people like Alex discover the IV movement and find their voice, the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival is planning to perform an ambitious concert in Melbourne Town Hall. The concert will offer the people of Melbourne a musical experience never heard before in Australia and will provide singers from universities around the country, Melbourne high schools and the wider community a chance to be a part of a groundbreaking, history-making performance. We’re passionate about our project, but we need your help.
Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000, and your help is invaluable! 
Our campaign starts now, and we’re offering the following perks to donors:
1. donate over $15 to receive a personal thank you in our concert program,
2. donate over $50 to receive everything in level 1 PLUS an exclusive MIV2018 tie-dyed tote bag,
3. donate over $100 to receive everything in level 2 PLUS the official MIV2018 live music CD,
4. donate over $250 to receive everything in level 3 PLUS an exclusive MIV goody bag.
5. donate  over $500 to receive everything in level 4 PLUS access to 2 of our VIP Concert Tickets for regular ticket price (Melbourne Town Hall has unallocated seating, so these are the ONLY tickets that guarantee you access to prime seating in the stalls),
6. donate over $1000 to receive everything in level 5 PLUS 2 free VIP tickets, PLUS a program signed by our musical director and soloists.
The two highest donations received will get a personal meet & greet with our soloists, musical director, and festival convenors after the performance.

 

Reblog: Resolutions: Good or Bad

I find resolutions interesting. As I commented on Noelle’s post (linked below),

I like ones that are “commitments to try”, so to speak. You know they’re goals and things you’d like to do, but they’re not “have-tos”.

Setting unattainable resolutions can lead to trouble or so it seems – we gain only negative emotions when we revert to old habits after promising to keep to a path for a year.

I remind myself that these are goals, to be practiced and worked on during the year but not mandatory.

With that in mind, some ones for this year are:

  • Do well in my Masters coursework etc.
    – Ask for help if I need it and monitor myself so that the changes of this year don’t cause my grades to drop.
  • To listen twice as much as I speak;
    –   I’ll be addressing this in more depth later, but as I’m a talker and social person who also is a “Feeler” (high F in Myers-Briggs, for example), I worry about my ratio of talking to listening. So I’m working on it.
  • Alongside the above is my want to actively practice my Feeling
    –   Again, I’ll explain in another post, but cultivating my empathetic presence is important to me. These first two are very connected.
  • To get back into blogging
    – I fell off a regular blogging schedule a bit over the second half of 2016, but I’d like to be more consistent.
  • To get back into writing my story.
    – I’ve done quite a lot of backstory-work but haven’t actually done any story-writing for a while. I need to get back into that.
  • To be more active and finding more walking spaces.
    –   I’m not naturally a person who gets active, as I’m not sporty. But I like nature and I like walking and I know I ought to be sitting less. I’m not interested in overdoing it though, as I’m skinny enough as it is.

Idea taken from the post linked below:

What are your thoughts on setting New Years Resolutions? Have you completed yours in the past or are you one of those who forgets what they are? Come read about the good and the bad of setting reso…

Source: {DISCUSSION} Resolutions: Good or Bad

#BringThemHere

https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/bringthemhere/upload-your-own-bringthemhere-message

I did this yesterday:

ESP Bring-Them-Here_photo 1.jpg
The Equality, Sustainability & Peace (ESP) Group at La Trobe says: #BringThemHere!

We stand with those on Manus and Nauru – we love you and support you. It’s past time for the government to stop stuffing around and close the camps. Set up some humane processes, open up onshore and offshore detention centres and #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

Momentum is building – join us!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/this-is-critical-103-nauru-and-manus-staff-speak-out-their-letter-in-full?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

Intersectionality

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
However…
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism: http://godspace-msa.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-forging-a-positive-sisterhood/

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html
Some reactions to it:
http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/part-3-reactions-popes-reflections-family-life
https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/unity-growth-love-church
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/reading-amoris-laetitia-as-a-catholic-feminist-mom/
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important: http://www.skirtcollective.com/why-my-self-expression-shouldnt-concern-you/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/the-immodest-consequences-of-modesty-policing/

Fixing traditional marriage: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45414#.Vvs5P_l942y

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014: http://www.catholicwomenspeak.com/
(and article describing their mission:) https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/place-table

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: http://www.patheos.com/Catholic-blogs – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/how-feminism-strengthened-my-christianity/

Abortion is a complex thing: http://skinnyandsingle.ca/2015/08/22/abortion-no-its-not-for-everyone/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/02/abortion-collective-responsibility-and-the-s-word/

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:
https:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/22/i-was-a-devout-catholic-not-being-able-to-get-birth-control-shook-my-faith/

Transgender – not the same as transracial: http://www.upworthy.com/a-black-trans-woman-explains-changing-gender-vs-changing-race?c=reccon1

Sex-selection IVF: https://theconversation.com/choosing-childrens-sex-is-an-exercise-in-sexism-45836?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294+CID_e93b54a12e12cf976f816d0ebf33c746&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=argues

A blog about faith & feminism: http://faithfullyfeminist.com/

Some catholic-trans perspectives:
http://magazine.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/whats-the-truth-about-transsexuality/pugpig_index.html
https://rowanselah.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/god-made-me-this-way/
https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/what-does-the-catholic-church-actually-say-about-transgenderism/

pro-life feminists: http://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/

A website for young progressive Catholics: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/about/

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!

 

Phew. And that’s a wrap

My last assignment for Paediatrics is due at 17:00 Friday (today). Paediatrics is the final subject of my third year.

In other words, I’m officially DONE with my third year. I’ve been chugging along since the last days of January so that’s nine months. Whew. I get to rest now, until next February when my final year begins. That’s going to involve a lot more placement work and will no doubt be just as intense as this year but in different ways. But until then – huzzah.

This year, I’ve learnt about and built on so many things. Like how to do SMART goals properly and building on intentional communication; environmental modifications, splinting, adaptive equipment, funding etc.; stress buckets, case formulation, intervention planning; stages of development and different treatments for specific disabilities and situations; many many models applicable in general and also specifically to various client groups – aged, disabled/ chronically ill, mentally ill, children…. and so much more.

That’s a long run-on sentence and it’s been a long run-on year.

But so, so good.

I’m really appreciative of all the opportunities that have come my way this year. I think I’ll give myself a few days off to savour them before organising my summer break.

 

On a different note: Don’t forget – today is the final day to get a replacement survey form for the marriage equality survey. Make sure you’ve voted before the end of Friday next week.

 

Orange Sky charity for homelessness

Got plenty of things to say, but in the meantime (because I ran out of time today), here’s something I’ve wanted to post about for a while.

See, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a fancy dinner to celebrate the year. It was organised through uni. At the dinner, between main course and dessert, we heard a talk from Nic and Lucas, the guys behind Orange Sky Laundry.

It’s a pretty awesome story about community and people helping people. As Nic and Lucas told it, they had an idea, to wash the clothes of homeless people using a mobile laundry service in the back of a van. They had a few setbacks in starting up, but now they’ve got services in different places across Australia. They’ve also started up a mobile shower service that accompanies the laundry.

Here’s a screenshot of the front page of their website, for some visuals. The real thing can be found by clicking here: http://www.orangeskylaundry.com.au/

orange sky homeless charity

The laundry service fills a physical need. It also fills social and emotional ones. It creates community.

 

The way they told the story got me thinking.

It reminded me of the connection I made for a little while with a homeless woman, who used to beg on Londsdale Street near Parliament Station. I think her name was Sally. The first time I met her, I was walking quickly towards the station from the bus stop, on my way back home. It was 2015 I think. I remember, the fact that made me pause was that she had a dog. An old corgie if I recall correctly. As I paused I listened to her telling her story to another person. Over time, through more stops, I’d hear more of it.

She was homeless due to domestic violence. She had had a pretty rough life. It seemed like life had dealt her a series of blows – her own child died young, for example. She lived for her dog; the money she got was first spent on dog-food, then on accommodation for the night, then food for herself.

She had cancer too and had been told she only had a year to live, which dwindled away as I visited.

How do I know she was telling the truth?

I don’t. Not really. But her eyes – the pain in them – I saw that. It felt real to me.

 

I don’t see her anymore. I haven’t done since about this time last year. I think she’s passed on.

I wonder what happened to her dog? That was her biggest fear.

Busy, busy bee…

Study central around here because I have an exam with oral and written components next week…. I have to present, for ten minutes, an intervention-based session applicable to a particular case scenario I’ve been allocated to.

After the exam’s over, I have to finish writing and submit an assignment about child observation.

I shall have more to say about my Paediatrics OT subject journey after next week.

Until then – this landed in my inbox today. Check it out. I agree – health and arts are linked. After all, treating the whole person is better than just focusing on treating one part; it’s not just about the medical way of things but the social-environmental occupational etc. ways too. https://fromtheharp.co.uk/2017/10/12/a-day-out-at-parliament/

 

Central Australia Trip Report #6

Oops! It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these! I had them all written by the start of September…but general busy-ness has prevented me posting – just as it delayed my completion of the writing.

So, last time, Day 5 ended with us rolling into Algebuckina Bridge camping area. Day 6 begins here.

Day 6

The next day, I was up early, so I went to explore.

We’d camped beside the Algebuckina Creek. According to an information booklet, it’s never run out of water since it was discovered. Or something like that…

The campsite was really just a spot to camp, without facilities. All necessary things had to be provided by the campers (us), which was an experience.

After breakfast, we drove around to see the actual bridge. The Algebuckina Bridge is disused now, but when in operation it was the longest rail bridge in South Australia at 583m.

Womble sits with the railway cart information board for Algebuckina Bridge

It’s nice enough, I guess.

We soon drove on. We were aiming for Oodnadatta and Marla today. On our way to Oodnadatta, we saw the grader at work repairing the track, which was good – less bumpy track, hooray.

When we arrived at Oodnadatta we were pleased. We stopped at the famous Pink Roadhouse, where the walls, tables, chairs and other furnishings are various shades of pink. Like the roadhouse at William Creek, it functions as a fuel station, pub, general store/grocery, hotel/campsite area – and post office!

We bought postcards to send back home. We also bought lunch – six of the famous “Oodna-burgers” with a side of chips, coming right up!

Large burger in bun with tomato, lettuce, bacon, onion and sauce, next to side of hot, thick chips sitting on a plate on the pink outdoor table. Background is a green woollen jumper and Hufflepuff scarf on the photographer.

Then it was back on the road, for the last stretch of the Oodnadatta Track. I’d read somewhere that this was the supposed to be the best bit, but it turned out to be the worst. Oops.

Finally, as the sun set, we turned off the Track onto bitumen road again. After 621km, we’d made it.

Hello Stuart Highway!

Taken as sun setting of red-orange Track, green-orange scrub and green sign with distances and directions on Stuart Highway: Coober Pedy and Port AUgusta to the left, KUlgera, Alice Springs and Marla to the right

We kept driving and soon reached Marla. Which has apparently only existed as a township for thirty-five years….

Their campsite was full, so we pressed on to a rest stop closer to Alice Springs.

 

 

Tiger Roar

How was your weekend? 

Mine was fun! I attended a Game(s) Day event, where some of us watched the Grand Final and others played games (board-, card-, etc.). Both rooms were quite animated. 

I learnt a couple of new games – OrganAttack and Articulate. Fun with friends! But that was after the game… 

If any other team had been playing in the Final, I’d have been in the designated games’ room, popping my head in now and again as some did. But it was the Tigers (!) so I watched the whole game. 

The first half was tense and I found myself doing the “sportsball thing” of muttering things at players when good or bad things happened. Though mine weren’t often quite full sentences or even phrases.  

Things picked up in the second half and it was with a touch of amazement that I watched that unfold, slowly beginning to believe fully. Excitement flowed too. 

As I’ve previously mentioned, footy is a very family thing for me. It felt like that on Saturday and after – I was separated from them by distance but we kept in contact over text and internet. After the match, several people in my friendship circle made or received calls to people for the same reasons. 

The emotion of the game caught me at the end. I’d been trying to balance a mix of excitement and nerves all week (all finals season really), as I hoped for the best but was wary of being disappointed. But we Tigers fans were not disappointed (sorry Crows fans – I had thought it’d be a slightly closer game). The image that made it real to me in a sense was the beautiful image of Dustin Martin’s joyous face and then the group as they embraced. All the other scenes, tears of joy and happiness flowing. 

It felt good. That’s what it’s all about, really – the striving to reach the ultimate goal, time after time, and the sweet emotions of success when it’s finally achieved after a long time between drinks. I’m happiest for those of my friends and family who have felt that long time keenly. Plenty of happy faces around the place for a while I think! 

#PostYourYes

Aussies, have you sent back your survey yet? 

Times are pretty tough for LGBTIQA+ people right now. There’ve been quite a few nasty attacks. This whole survey is in a way an attack because why should everyone have the right to decide on the validity of the relationships of a few? … If you were inconvenienced by a text message on the weekend, maybe have a think about that, ey? 

Anyway, here’s a brilliant (polite) video, directed at those who are considering voting no. If you are one of those, please watch and think before you do. 

Also, see this: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/logically-theres-only-one-good-reason-for-voting-no-20170922-gymr7n.html 

Just… think about it, please? 

I – and my funky-toe socks – am a yes. I posted my yes within 12 hours of collecting the survey (filled it out minutes after receiving). Go do that.  

Pair of feet in pink, brown and white socks with separate big toe part stand on grey tiled floor

Then watch this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3FkwaMGpnrg

So proud of all of those who made it!  Beautiful. ❤ 

OT uni update: busy skill learning

Hi all. This post is currently being written by my left hand on my mobile while my right arm is held captive by the plasma-collection machine at the local blood donation centre. 

I’m two weeks into my last subject for the year: Paediatrics. It’s been really fun. We’ve covered typical and atypical development (including how to hold low/high babies), early childhood interventions, autism, cerebral palsy and interventions and assessment for these plus more generally. These have included sensory processing, family-centred practice, traffic light self-regulation systems, handwriting interventions – and most recently, this interesting intervention called CO-OP: Cognitive Orientation to Occupational Performance. 

It’s a cognition based cooperative approach which enables success (ie skill acquisition) through problem-solving. The OT guides the child to use metacognition strategies and discover the skill(s) for themselves. The child uses their own words to create goals, which are then planned, done and checked (GPDC acronym is used with a toy to help the child remember). 

As part of our learning we each chose a skill to learn using this method in class. So I learnt to KNIT! 

Goal: to be able to knit a row. 

Plan (in my own words): I watched a classmate who knew how to knit demonstrate and talked through the steps, as I saw them, in my own words. Then a third classmate wrote them down. 

(I’m right-handed.) 

  1. Right needle goes through the thread on the left needle and then goes to the back. 
  2. Loop the thread around the back of right needle only, it does not cross the left needle. 
  3. Pull down the thread against the needle with right hand keeping needles crossed at back. 
  4. Pull the needle from right hand down 
  5. With the left hand turn the needle so the right hand pushes needle through the wool.  
  6. With the right hand you move the loop off the left needle while the left hand holds the wool steady.
  7. Tighten the knot. 

Or something like that. 

Do: you do the plan. 

Check: has the plan worked? We needed to modify a few steps to ensure everything was clear. 

Finished product:

Grey knitting needles with a few wool stitches on them, on wooden table next to Ball of white woolClose-Up of white wool in stitches on grey needle on wooden table
Not much. But it’s a start. Now I need some wool and knitting needles so I can practice – I borrowed those ones above.

Hip hip huzzah for a wonderful Pirates concert

As my post on Friday indicated, on Sunday evening I went off to see The Pirates of Penzance by MonUCS. It was a fantastic show. As I reflected on earlier this year, there’s something really nice about watching your friends perform a great show, knowing that they’ve been working towards it for months. 

It was really, really fun. I’d never seen it before, which made it all the more special. It was both fun and funny, touching on themes of duty, family and choice but mostly just being a jolly good romp. For some time I’d been avoiding spoilers of songs and so on, but since the concert they’ve been running through my head, competing for attention. They were well-sung after all. Acting was also very good. I could tell people enjoyed themselves on stage just as we enjoyed watching them. 😉 

Afterwards (after packing up or “bumping out”) we went off to a choir member’s house for more singing, food and conversation. Fun! 

As I said afterwards, I’m so proud of all my friends. Well done! I can’t wait for the projects to come. 

The Fox and Fool – my friend’s new book!

My friend is an author. She’s got a new book out. I beta-read it a while back…so I’ve got a quote on the back cover! It’s a fun little read. Go buy it! Details below. 

I’m happy for you, Lauren… great work! 

Book cover for The Fox and Fool with a white star shaped flower in an earthenware pot resting on a blue patterned table-cloth on a table
______________________________________

From Lauren: 

I’m delighted to present my latest book, The Fox and the Fool

From today, it’s available from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and iBooks.

Official press release: 

This refreshing new novella from from Lauren K. Nixon celebrates love and friendship from the very edge of things. Sometimes in Illyria you find yourself in need of a friend, particularly among fools.

A gentle, strange romance between two people who spend their lives on the edge of things, set after the events of Twelfth Night. 

Things have settled quite amicably since the marriages of the two great houses of the town. But now there’s a new fool on the scene – and we are all fools in love.

“The Fox and the Fool is a delightfully romantic tale that sweeps you up in an instant and doesn’t let you down until you’ve savoured every last drop. Perfect for fans of Shakespeare, it will also appeal to anyone looking for an enchanting, uplifting read about love and life.” – Jessica Grace Coleman

“A light-hearted tale of fun, mischief and music – a story about the importance of friendship and brave vulnerability, all wrapped up in the setting of a Shakespearean town.” – Clare Keogh

Further information can be found on my website, http://www.laurenknixon.com/books