Grey House – What the Heck am I Rambling About? #9

‘Grey House’ takes on the persona of a young child who eagerly goes into a new home, an apartment complex, with their mother. Rather quickly, the child becomes exposed to harsh realities and becomes disillusioned with the excitement of moving to a new place, and the conditions that led them there.

What the Heck am I Rambling About is a series of blog posts where I breakdown a work I have created and shared. You can read the poem here if you aren’t caught up!

Someone has commented that these series of blog posts and the Author’s comments section are going to be useful tools for HSC students in the future. A very flattering comment and I think when I did the HSC I would have loved it if the people I was writing about how done a blog series like that. Alas, the prescribed texts were all mostly dead white men.

Set out – almost barefoot. Along my journey

on the cigarette path, I met Crystal, Molly,

was tracked by a Dragon and became BFs with Mary Jane.

Stanza 5

There is only two stanzas that have the optimistic tone, perhaps misguiding the reader due to the child’s curiosity. When the child’s life starts to break down, she becomes systematically disempowered, first starting with the bare necessities such as electricity and then at school by teachers who punish them for being late, not at the fault of the child. Those who the child meets on the way aren’t people but the code names for different drugs. The child being Best Friends with Mary Jane (Marijuana) is a comment of how this unregulated use for people in such fragile states can act as a gateway drug. The reader can take away what that type of relationship would be for a young person. Is Best Friend also someone for life in this instance, denoting a pessimistic point of view that they cannot escape? Or, like a fleeting childhood friendship, will the child escape it eventually?

I had to leave that woman when I came of age.

For she said we’d be home by autumn’s end.

Stanza 6

When I Came of Age” is subjective. Does she mean when she became an adult? Or when the child could legally move on from her mother at the age of 16 (in many western countries)? Or perhaps when she realised when her mother wasn’t good for her. The term Autumn’s end is meant to symbolise that this move was supposed to be a grace period in the mind of the child. The excitement of a new place perhaps shadowed the permanency of such a living situation the child was not ready for. The line also shows that there was a desire to return to the past life, before the Grey House. However, like a great number of cases, this return isn’t always as conceptualised. Referring to her here as that woman is the last time she is given a gendered identity. When the mother becomes labelled as parent at the end, it is revealed that the child still conceptualises somewhat of a caretaker role, but not in the typical narrative of the maternal bonds.

She was neither the executioner nor the criminal

but the wife of the bread-thief.

Stanza 7

Throughout the poem, there’s no direct attack against the mother, just comments about the unruly life. As the child ‘grows up’ they become more aware of her mother’s context. The child expresses sympathy for her mother, which is captured in this line. The metaphor of the bread-thief alludes to their situation, which suggests that her previous father did petty crime to support their family, which has led to the current life. The mother was responsible for the situation or the person who created the situation. In the same way, the child is linked to her mother as they are not responsible. Although neither are deserving of the ‘Grey House’, they both end up in that life, a sad common tragedy experienced by people with similar hardships.

This poem has been heavily inspired by my social work experience. This is perhaps the most tangible of the ‘Autumn, That Bastard’ collection. To leave you with some thoughts think:

  • What happens now to the girl? What happens to the mother?
  • Is this a cyclical life-event, like the season of Autumn? Or has the child realised their predicament and overcome it?

I hope you enjoyed this rambling and you can find some more ramblings below.

Acknowledgement of Country – Why it matters for Us (Non-Indigenous Perspective)

Recent times I have heard many differing opinions on the Acknowledgement of Country. Opinions such as why/if it should be done at meetings and when it is done.

Sometimes that it happens too much. Sometimes that it happened before and as such, not needed to happen afterwards.

If you are unsure what an Acknowledgement of Country is, it is a way to pay respect to the indigenous people who are the custodians of the land. You can see an example of one, that is very vague and all identifying, in the footer of my website.

Needless to say, if I have the desire to include it in my footer, I probably think it’s a big deal whether it’s included or not. And you are right! I think it is an extremely important way of reflecting on my sense of being, a way to communicate my values of indigenous rights and to build continual discourse on how we should be treating our indigenous friends.

In a class recently, I asked the question for a presentation if the lecturer would like us to do an Acknowledgement of Country, so it is embded with our presentation practice. (Social Work and Indigenous peoples unit just to clarify).

I thought this was a clear cut yes, but an opinion was held that perhaps one should be done at the beginning as it could potentially take up too much time for our 10-minute presentations.

If you want a practice of how long it takes, try reading out my acknowledgement of country.

acknowledge the indigenous people as the traditional custodians of the land that I work and gain knowledge on. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and future .

I read this out, timed myself, slipped up on saying ‘traditional custodians’ and it took me under 10 seconds. In our 10-minute presentations, if 10 seconds can’t be given (15 maybe because i’m a fast reader) to pay respects to the longest living culture and the culture that has been subject to ‘fourth world’ conditions (Dyck, 1985), then there is a bigger semantic error that we must address in the ways we talk.

Another issue which I did not personally experience, but people have mentioned was at a cultural facilitation event. The company provided training about multiculturalism without doing an Acknowledgement of Country. The justification was that they had done it at the beginning of the year, one time.

Perhaps the intended audience of the workshop are incorporeal beings that know not the strings of time and fluctuate across the eons, searching for that one time that one white guy presented an acknowledgement of country, Jeremy Bearimy style (THE GOOD PLACE SPOILER)

Now without throwing in Doctor Who or a Delorean into the mix, we gotta understand the tokenism that comes with such a statement. To say ‘we did one already’ is another way for indigenous people to be told to ‘get over it’. It treats the act as if it is the really poorly written and unfunny bestman speech at a wedding, before the festivities (idk how weddings work tbh). That it’s something to get out of the way. Thats what both of these comments suggest.

And I hope by making this post, I try to point out that it shouldn’t be a one-time thing. That akin to New Zealands Haka, this respect should be ingrained with our national identity.

But what do you think of the Acknowledgement of Country? Particularly, I am interested in indigenous voices and if i get enough discussion with this, then I may make a follow up post. Feel free to hit me up on my social medias or by commenting.

Artwork from:
https://www.murumittigar.com.au/darug-artwork/

https://www.murumittigar.com.au/darug-artwork/

You’re a Feminist but you just don’t know it yet!

Sometimes, people are so afraid of being labelled a ‘feminist’ they will start their sentence, thought or idea by saying…

“I’m not a feminist but women should be treated equally.”

Some guy at some point in time, probably.

Feminism as a movement has been and will continue to be about getting equality for women and advocate for the same rights and decency that men experience. Although some people think ‘Egalitarianism‘ is a good word to describe it, feminism focuses on gender usually (without going too deep).

“But Christoast!” I may hear you say, “I’m not a Feminazi!

To which, I would reply with the following. You don’t need to be afraid of that term, and you should really reconsider the usage. ‘Feminazi’ is used badly as another way (well, as suggested by the oxford dictionary for political slang) of saying a ‘determined feminist’. It is actually quite a derogatory term and when someone is labelled a feminazi, it usually isn’t because of their radical ideas but rather miscommunication or vilification. There may be extreme ideologies but you will find them so few and sparse within the theory/movement.

You are a feminist if you do these things:

  • Respect women (and not for your own benefit but because you genuinely respect them)
  • Thats it. Thats the catch-all.

Some who may be tilting their heads may say, “But men suffer problems and don’t get attention and have higher suicide rates and not being able to express emotion… etc.”

And if you are concerned about those problems, great! You are even more of a feminist! Because those are feminist issues. Because toxic masculinity deems you cannot cry, you cannot express emotion and permits this harm. It categorises emotion and ‘girly things’ as ‘not manly’ and as such, you become a target for expressing any femininity. Yes, those issues stated may affect men, but they are rooted in assumptions of what is appropriate gender expression for a man which is often seen as not anything that woman can do.

I wrote this article/blog post in response to common people being afraid of identifying as feminist. You need to know, that being a feminist is not a bad thing! This is particularly targeted to men and women who think negatively of the term feminist to help challenge assumptions about the word and about the lens and movement.

However, I am always interested in continuing this discussion so leave a comment if you so inclined or hit me up on one of my social medias!

What “No Politics” actually mean for forums and comment sections?

Comment sections and forums across the internet often have some kind of ‘no politics’ rule. Depending on the type of post, this usually robs a certain voice that must be heard. Of course, if it is a picture of a puppy liking peanut butter, then I better not hear about Trump’s wall in that comment section. But if it’s a discussion on say, Liam Neeson and the recent confusion of a journalist for a psychologist, the implications of his thought process have larger ramification that need to be addressed.

What I really like to try emphasise in a lot of my academic, creative and social thinking is that we are all political.

I don’t mean that we are all eligible of being the Prime Minister of Australia in the next minute (although that is arguably highly likely considering) but that all of us have power to affect beliefs and ideas of others all around us.

So a comment section or forum that talks about some kind of news story or event or idea, which isn’t allowed to be discussed in a ‘political’ way means a whole voice is robbed. A whole conversation about the power dynamics of a post is lost. The voice that would want to challenge what’s happening isn’t able to be heard. Power remains the same, lost to the authority of the ‘no politics’ idea. This becomes oppressive and weakens the chance for civil opinions to be heard.

An example I want to use is, as alluded too, the Liam Neeson fiasco. The link escapes me at the time of writing but I came across a thread that basically said ‘Let’s not talk about the politics behind this and appreciate how good of an actor he is, regardless’ (not verbatim).

The article highlighted over his name suggests that if what Liam Neeson did was done to a white person, race would not have been involved and he wouldn’t have sought out a white person. This is due to the assumed whiteness that is vicarious in our western society. So in a comment section that disallows the voice concerned about racism, in order to instead celebrate the mans accomplishments… it unconsciously accepts the dangers of lived racism.

We need to talk about politics, but not in the way we all think. We need to recognise everything we do has weight. Every single action affects how those around us perceive their world and how they enact their lived experience of said world.

There is no such thing as ‘no politics’, rather, only the politics that certain people want to hear when it would otherwise challenge human rights and basic human decency.

Starting on the Left Foot

I think it’s no surprise to some that I am decisively all about human rights. Some categorise this as “left-wing . If I’ll honest, I really don’t think this divide should exist. ‘Right-wing‘ politics only benefits a select amount of people and I don’t think I’ve ever fallen into the categories of those people. Naturally, I would be drawn away from that.

As a future Social Worker, it comes to no surprise that I am absolutely in favour of human rights and social justice. Honestly, my profession is the definition of Social Justice Warrior.

I’m starting on the left-foot, letting you all know of where I stand, because we are all political. If you exist, you’re being inherently says something about you. And if my existence has to be determined by feet, I guess I’ll choose my left most foot to win the race.. But also, political stance is also used as a distraction at time so always be wary of that. But I need to let you know, as the reader of the blog of what to expect. Some of the following I support include:

  • LGBTQI+ Rights and Voices
  • Mental Health Awareness
  • Feminism
  • Religious Freedom
  • Indigenous Rights
  • Racial Equality

These are just some of the crazy and wacky beliefs I support. Usually, in debates you’ll hear “It’s okay if you disagree” or “People can have opinions”, but I subscribe to what morally drives me. I just don’t think that’s the case when a decision challenges a persons innate dignity, not based on any harmful actions.