A better world is possible

It looks like a suburb.

I’m not sure five words have ever given me such a radical mindset shift. Like so many of us, the ongoing murders of Black people at the hands of the police, and the police response to peaceful protesting in the wake of yet another unjust death, has cemented the idea that we cannot just put our faith in law enforcement to do the right thing and uphold justice and fairness in our country. This is something that I’ve already known, but do to my privilege, I’ve never had to sit down and think about how that would look.

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Kia kaha, Christchurch

It is a privilege to feel safe in the places you call home. It shouldn’t be, because what is home if it is not a place that is known and that is safe, but again and again we see places that should be known made unsafe by hate. Like the rest of the world, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of the mass murder of Muslims at a mosque in Christchurch. New Zealand is the safest and most peaceful country I have ever been to or lived in, and yet a group of people decided that shouldn’t be the case for their victims.

New Zealanders haven’t had to grapple with a tragedy like this, whereas in America we are nearly desensitized to news of yet another mass shooting. Politicians send their thoughts and prayers, outraged is silenced with cries of “too soon,” The Onion reposts that too-accurate headline, and nothing changes. I was surprised and gladdened to hear that the New Zealand government’s immediate response was to promise a ban on semi-automatic weapons; imagine if our politicians had ever acted so quickly and decisively? How many schoolchildren, churchgoers, and others would still be with us?

The outpouring of support for the Muslim community in the wake of the tragedy is also heartening. Flowers cover mosques around the country. Vigil attendances number in the thousands. A givealittle page (New Zealand’s answer to Go Fund Me) for victim support has topped $5 million in donations. Kiwis and the world are coming together to echo Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s words about the victims: “They are us.”

At the same time, although for many New Zealand seemed like a utopia between its stunning natural beauty and its peaceful, unified society, the sad truth is that New Zealand is not immune from the influence of intolerance, white supremacy, and an environment where “casual” discrimination is given a blind eye rather than spotlighted and called out (and what does “casual” discrimination even mean? Is it a hobby? A side-hustle? Part-time racism?). Where alt-righters like Stefan Molyneux, Jordan Peterson, and Lauren Southern have eager audiences. Where stereotypes about Maori and other islanders flourish as “jokes.”

I am certainly not writing this as a sanctimonious outsider pointing out the flaws of another country; I, too, am certainly often guilty of not doing enough to call out intolerance when I see it. It’s particularly tragic to think that the murderers were likely inspired by the political climate of my own nation. And New Zealand is certainly a lot more welcoming than the United States (or Australia, by the way; wow, there is a lot of racism here, and not just from the Senator who made that awful statement after the mosque shooting, although you should enjoy this video of him getting egged by a teenager).

However, it is tempting to dismiss the murderers’ terrible actions as unrelated to anything else in New Zealand society, to identify solely with the victims. But without changing our own actions and stepping up every time to speak out against racism, discrimination, Islamophobia, intolerance, we are dishonouring the victims by allowing the murderers and those who think like them to find something to identify with in us (please read this powerful comic by Spinoff journalist Toby Morris for more).

It is important to carry the feelings of love and solidarity for the Muslim community, the immigrant community, the community as a whole, that are strongest and most present now in wake of this tragedy, and let them be a guideline going forward. We must cultivate an environment in which seeds of hate can not plant roots. And that means asking ourselves difficult questions, and being willing to ask difficult questions to others. Kia kaha, New Zealand. Stay strong and show your strength by protecting your whānau—Maori, pakeha, Muslim, and everyone else who is lucky enough to live in such a kind and beautiful country. Come together in love and action to ensure that everyone is safe in the places they call home.

Girl, Accept Your Constructive Criticism

Being a woman in a patriarchal society is hard, but it doesn’t make you a feminist.

Let me say it louder for the people in the back.

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BEING A WOMAN IN A PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY IS HARD, BUT IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A FEMINIST.

Feminism is about beliefs and actions aimed at dismantling the patriarchy, the systematic inequality that inhibits people of all genders. Feminism doesn’t mean that everything a woman does is good or feminist, that women can’t be called out (including by other women), that any criticism of a woman is an act of misogyny, that all women must lift up all other women all the time.

I would say it louder for the people in the back but I don’t want you to have to read a whole paragraph of capslock.

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It’s Women’s Equality Day (via Harsh Reality)

I haven’t written a journalistic-type article since… I was a journalism major? But I’m pretty proud of this one. In honour of Women’s Equality Day, a US holiday commemorating the (98th anniversary) of the Nineteenth Amendment, I spoke to four women in different countries (USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand) about women’s rights in their respective countries, and their hopes for the future. I’m hoping to do more with their words because they had such amazing things to say—maybe a series of some sort on my blog? But for now, I’m delighted to share this piece I wrote for Harsh Reality:

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day in the United States, commemorating the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. In the USA, women’s rights have seen huge strides forwards (as well as some big steps back). But how do women’s rights in the States compare to other countries around the world? Four women — from the United States, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada — weigh in.

Read the rest at Harsh Reality

Makeup Isn’t My Mask

There are a lot of sexist memes on the internet, which makes sense, it being the internet and all. Sexist memes combine two of the internet’s favourite things: memes and sexism. Most are some variety of the same theme, usually meant to explain that girls who pretend to like cool things are just lying liars who are only pretending to like cool things, most likely to attract boys. See: Fake Geek/Gamer Girl, the Bernie v. Hilary campaign positions sign, and about a hundred others.

When the denizens of this too-large corner of the internet are not talking about how horrible it is when girls like “boy” stuff, they’re talking about how horrible “girl” stuff is. For example, makeup and the “take her swimming on a first date”/”this is why men have trust issues” meme, which I find to be one of the most infuriating. You can see an example below, but basically it’s two pictures of a girl, one with and one without makeup. In the “with makeup” photo, her skin is flawless, eyebrows groomed, face all-around made up in a conventionally attractive way. In the “without makeup” photo she has sparse eyebrows, undereye circles, blemishes, maybe some hyperpigmentation, If she was the kind of girl to wear makeup every day, this picture would be the one of the day where everyone asks her “Are you sick?”

ugh
The fabulous Nikkitutorials

Apparently, it’s some sort of huge betrayal to a certain section of men on the internet for women to wear makeup because it’s a “lie”—as many women have so correctly pointed out, if these men think that winged black eyeliner is a natural feature, they deserve to feel hoodwinked—but there’s something about these memes that I find even more discomforting.

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