The language of permission

This week a wise friend cautioned that the language of permission is very powerful. She suggested that, if a plebiscite occurs at all on this issue of ‘allowing’ same sex marriage’, the question should only be ‘do you agree with an amendment to the Marriage Act 1961’, or ‘do you agree with the removal of changes made by the Marriage Amendment Act 2004’. It should not be ‘do you agree with same sex marriage’. She said it better and probably didn’t say that exactly, but that is all I remember.

It is subtle isn’t it? There is no need to ask anybody what their views of same sex marriage are. And frankly, none of us have the power to ‘allow’ or ‘disallow’ a marriage. We are not given marriage police licences. 

So the ‘should they have your permission to marry’ business is silly. This is not the question. If you consider it an issue of removing the changes that came about in 2004, it is really not about changing anything at all, but it is about removing an inequality that was inserted into it, in 2004.  I do not care, nor do I want to hear, what anybody thinks about my sexuality. Ever.

The language of permission is not subtle at all. It is heavy with expectation. The expectation is, that the person being asked, must have some kind of power or authority to decide. Most importantly, it is giving Australians the power to decide something that the country has voted people called parliamentarians in, to decide. We have told you what we think, by electing the people we did, to represent us.

The Marriage Act 1961 was amended to exclude same sex unions, explicitly, by parliament. The process of this involved the elected members passing a Bill. Parliamentarians, voted in by Australians, did this. It was accepted, as appalling as it was, that the change had been, as they say, mandated.

The people of Australia were not asked their opinion about this change, nor their permission. The process happened as all legislative change happens, by the elected members putting a Bill to parliament, and a majority voting for it. It is more complicated and multi-staged than that, but the main gist I am interested in here is this: it was not a process by which the people of Australia all ‘had a say’. They were assumed to have ‘had a say’ in the polling booths.

What has changed? Absolutely nothing. Where is this drive for a plebiscite coming from? the far right. What can we do?  Hope that those of us who voted Labor, Greens or other parties and independents supportive of same sex marriage, do their thing and stop the plebiscite.

I am bitterly disappointed that not more of us had the foresight to put the Equality Party first and get some queer representation in Parliament last election. I am relieved, however, that the Australian people did not hand Turnbull a massive majority. In fact, we now have a parliament, elected ‘by the people’ who have ‘had our say’, who could make marriage equality happen.

In simple terms, a plebiscite is a referendum that does not change the constitution (i.e. because marriage is not governed by the Australian Constitution). The types of issues where they have previously been utilized have been matters affecting all people. Like military conscription.

Australia’s current recognition of same sex marriages that have been performed overseas, is hit and miss. Some states recognise it, others do not. My same sex marriage in Canada is recognised in Victoria. And in being so recognised, I have not, to my knowledge, endangered anyone’s lives or forced anyone to go to war. So I would really love to hear any compelling argument as to why, having democratically voted, the Australian public should give their ‘permission’ about what can and should be a simple, legislative process.

 

 

 

Embrace 

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I saw the film embrace today. There were four of us in the cinema, staggered through the rows. Four women, aged 20s to 50s I would guess. All different shapes and sizes. All eating a Cinema Nova choc top. 

The film is a well curated quasi professional documentary style of work, the protagonist and documentary maker being a mother of three, who went viral posting a post-body builder shot of herself on Facebook, tastefully naked, as her adorable husband says. 

I was initially skeptical that I might relate to this attractive, symmetrical, aesthetically beautiful woman encouraging us to love ourselves. I soon felt remorseful for thinking that way. 

The film introduced us to women around the globe, struggling with body image. The size 12 model, the transgender woman, the movie stars, the burns ‘victim’ (one of the most vocally audacious women speaking out), the bearded lady, the physically impaired. 

It was at times laced with a lightheartedness, at other times beautifully warm and touching. The most striking take home for me, was a tantalising hope that social media will globalise a new message, a new definition of beauty. 

Aesthetics is a battlefield and I have long detested the message of ‘beauty within’, because really, to change the way we feel, it is our construct of the beauty without that needs to shift.

Everyone knows that a nice person, a gentle soul, is beautiful. But not everyone sees that outward beauty is actually everywhere. It is not owned by the thin, the tall and the smooth. 

If you read to the bottom of this, thanks, you look amazing. 

Being here

I would not have reckoned that one of these days talking about the weather would have deep, gritty, horrifying traction. Traction as in gears, as in implications. Real implications, for me. 

I would never have thought that tragedy ‘on the news’, in that television set, would be a click away from here. Like suddenly, at the drop of a hat, that person, those bombs, my heart, would all occupy the same space. 

Then again, who would have ever imagined this. That this would be it. That all the innocence we bathed in was an artifical, global ticking timebomb, and that truly, the only absolute would be that we are them, are us, and they, or we, are it. 

My call to arms 

Crush their spirit so they cannot argue. That would be the words filling the edges of my Meme. The meme itself would be a fat white guy, lets call him Trump, on one side of a seesaw. The long wooden plinth would be bulging with the feeble effort to generate sufficient downward pressure on the opposite side of the fulcrum. That side would be an overcrowded seat teaming with minorities, all clammering to force an equilibrium. 

You would think that all eyes, and all fury, would be squarely aimed at equalising this farcical and parodic creature grinning maniacally across the way. Yet the over crowded seat would instead be filled with angry ‘others’, engaged in a bitter brawl, the wounded spilling over and tumbling to the ground. 
To put it another way, we are all in-fighting, and the beast, that dominant force of self serving capitalist free world jargon fuelled power, is winning. We are feeding the beast. It doesn’t want us to align our ideologies, heaven forbid we just manage to agitate well enough together to effect change. 

So lets stop it. Let’s stop hating. Let’s stop whinging about “political correctness gone too far” and “reverse discrimination”. Lets stop screaming at the ignorant about their white privilege. Lets be kind in the face of cis gendered ignorance. Lets allow others to identify however the hell they wish. Lets explain inequality to each other so that nobody feels unheard. Lets be powerful. 

If we do not, we cannot break this system. The gnomes of Zurich will keep oppressing us, and if they are lucky, we will wipe each other out for them. That way they will never be accountable for global atrocities, death and devastation.

Steven Stevenson

Steven Stevenson followed the sun

His tanned legs were strong 

His stature was short

He sat in a hammock drinking a beer

He ate Lobster alone on a deck

He didn’t work anymore.

Steven Stevenson traveled alone 

His grey hair was cropped 

His nose stubbed

He had many sunglasses 

And one pair of shorts 

He stayed on the Island five days

And when he got back on a boat

He was done.  

Last Encounters

I was looking at her. I said I think I may be having a heart attack. She told me it was anxiety. She said she had Googled it. I believed her, there had been many nights of broken sleep and high heart rates. No seriously I said, my chest hurts. My throat hurts. And no, I can’t go for a walk. Okay I will have a massage.

And fast forward, I was lying there. A Thai woman half my weight was leaning into me. I thought about the last few days, and whether they were enough. You know, if I did drop off the perch. I had a lovely Saturday with Mum. She stayed over. We watched movies and ate Messina. I had breakfast with Dad on Monday. He spilled coffee and took a photo of me with my own Camera, and he liked the sun on his face. He thanked me.

The last text I sent my daughter and wife said that they were my diamonds in a sea of high pressure carbon. This morning I made coffee for two polite and appreciative strangers. Yesterday I met the most tenacious kid I ever will, she made me feel like my work has value. This morning in the frosty moments I had walked Moss and paint spotted, and smiled at her existence.

So I decided that yes, it was enough. Not in any ‘I wish to die’ kind of way, but in the sense that if it was my time, I felt satisfied my last encounters mattered. I also wondered if I mattered. Seriously, in the grand scheme. Do any of us? The massage ended. I was not dying. Good for another day. But so you know, among it, what became apparent was, it isn’t what good I may have said to those I love, but what I’d left unsaid. It came down to what I hadn’t said that needed saying. Love is easy. Trouble is uncomfortable.

I will leave you with that. I am off air for a bit. I will say this though: speak up about what you do not want. Change it now. Otherwise you will find yourself being rubbed by a stranger and wishing you had the guts to say it.