At long last, the first episode of Hit, Shits and Other Bits. In this episode: hate-watching, misogynerds and World War One. Plus, Lauren makes a confession that makes Cam need to lie down, Cam makes a confession that makes Lauren need to lie down, and Erin just needs to lie down
This is a little story about why I hate the Westminster system.
The other day, I had an idea. It was about paid parental leave.
Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have PPL plans. Gillard’s offers the same amount to everyone, is more affordable, but means that incentives differ based on different base wage (ie. it’s easier/more appealing for someone toward the lower end of the economic scale to have a baby and take PPL than for someone at the top). Abbott’s plan paid people their salary, up to 150k/year, which is obviously problematic in that it gives MORE money to the wealthy- never a good idea.
So I had a little idea. Instead of reducing the corporate tax rate to 29%, make that reduction a tax credit, only available to companies that, as part of their employment practice, match the difference in salary between the Gillard plan and the employees base salary. And then offer government risk pools to small businesses to share risk of maternity leave, so it’s still a financially viable decision for small businesses.
So here I was, laying in bed, pretty happy with this nice little idea that, I think, solves a number of problems at once. And then I thought, what do I do with my idea?
And I realised, there was nothing.
I couldn’t call my local member. PPL policy is well outside the bounds of her JD. I couldn’t call write a letter to the minister, because I’m not in their district, so they have no cause not to ignore me. Same with the opposition.
If I were in a system that were more open, like the American system, I could suggest it to my local member, and they could write a bill. If they ignored me, I could run in the primary against them, with that is a key policy platform. I could talk to my senators, because they can introduce bills too. I have a number of options available, so that I could, at least, FEEL as though my idea has some chance of being heard.
But instead, I languish in a system in which I do not feel remotely empowered, and in which the only way I have to make my voice mean anything is to join a party. And where the only outlet for my ideas is my blog.
So I’m no longer writing regularly for the USSC blog. Strangely, as soon as blogging was a “job”, I found it amazingly difficult to do. I wasn’t nearly as inspired, and not at all articulate. The moment it became a must-do, it was something un-fun.
So I’m crossing full time blogger off the potential career list.
And thing have changed. I’m back at uni this semester. I got promoted. I’m busy. And I’ve been thinking differently- less focused on the short term, and more trying to focus on some big ideas That’s required a lot of learning and a lot of thinking. So I haven’t been much one for writing, or even much one for reading short-form writing… I’ve been losing myself in books about history, politics and philosophy. And it’s been great.
But I’ve missed Naysayers, and so I’m back. Hopefully with some interesting new ideas…
Sport matters. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Watching the soccer tonight made me realise, I’ve never told the story of me, the Sydney Swans, and 2005. Regardless of what has happened in the interim, that year was more important to me than I could imagine.
My parents- nay, my whole family- moved overseas when I was 19. I was alone, and yearning for community. All the communities I’d known- my friends, my local area, my church- failed to meet me where I was. I needed a sense of belonging, and none of them provided that.
And then, not long after they left, I found the Swans.
I’ve actually written about it in a book, of all things, about Collingwood. About the day I found footy. I was lonely and sad. I’d been to games before, but that day, at Telstra Stadium, I was sadder than I could imagine. The Swans losing meant a lot to me. I cried in the car, waiting for the rain to be light enough for me to drive home. I wasn’t sure if I was crying for the Swans, or for me.
Dad came back for the preliminary final. Well, not for the preliminary final, but he came with me, to Telstra Stadium, and gave me a nice new gortex jacket to wear to games. We lost. I was sad. Later, I was kind of glad we didn’t win that year, because I wouldn’t have understood it.
We lost, but I decided it would be the Swans. I invested. I became a member- and bought a spare membership- in 2004. It was a fairly successful season. We did ok. But I didn’t quite find the community I needed. Our success was fun- as was my first trip to Melbourne for our unsuccessful elimination final- and I learnt.
But 2005 was the year. I made friends with the delightful Bec, through uni. We’ve since largely grown apart, but her friendship and companionship that year was invaluable. I moved seats, closer to my friends, and Bec came to sit near me. It was an amazing year.
Early, it was disappointing. We didn’t have many early wins. But that was when I met Bec, who’d recently lost her Grandfather. I introduced her to my not-so-famous footy cookies, biscuits designed to herald the Swans’ success. I decided the two were linked. Bec joined me. Rapidly, we developed a tradition that was real and meaningful.
We did enough to make the finals. Despite the power of the biscuits, we lost at Subiaco to West Coast. The next week, we faced Geelong at the SCG. With three quarters down, we looked sure to lose. I’d planned my off season in the 3/4 time break.
But then magic, and Nick Davis, came to save us. We won. We made it to the preliminary final.
The next week was the preliminary final. If we won that, we’d make the Grand Final.
Now Grand Final tickets are rarer than Hen’s Teeth. Despite a membership, I had preferred, not guaranteed, grand final admission. I knew such tickets would be like gold. So, at 4pm, before the Preliminary Final even started, I lined up for Grand Final tickets.
It was the perfect time. I was third in line. The first had arrived at 9am, the second at 10am. I got there at 4. Fifteen minutes after I arrived, the fourth rocked up. Perfect timing. By the time the game began, at 7:30, there were about 40 in line. By the time it ended and the Swans had won, it had swelled to well over 100. We spent the night celebrating and singing. It was community.
We sat all night, waiting to claim our tickets. It was easy to do. We were happy. It was a happy time. Since 1933, we hadn’t won a premiership and had played in few finals. Two days later, we secured our tickets. It was bliss.
I flew down on Thursday. I cried when I met Bec in Melbourne. We went to the Parade and did all the thing fans of a Grand Final team should do.
And then the game. I remember little. I remember the nerves. I didn’t see Leo Barry’s mark. I didn’t hear the siren. But I cried when I knew it was over. I sobbed. It was more than I could bare. After 73 years, we had done it.
And then the party started. What a party it was.
I woke, from the reverie, some weeks later, an honours thesis due frightfully soon. But it was magical. Every second was magical. My pitiful Hons mark was more than compensated by the greatness of the weeks that followed the premiership.
Things have changed, that’s for sure. But that premiership will live forever in my memory, and the memory of thousands of others. It was special. What an extraordinary privilege it was to witness the 2005 premiership.
So sitting here tonight, I have to echo the fact that sport matters. It matter because people chose to invest in it. And even though Aussie Rules is clearly a superior game, people around the world have chosen to invest in soccer. And that means that it matters.
I love Australian Rules Football, because it is the Australian game.
Long before Association Football was codified, Australian Rules set down its laws and made the code official. And it was a peculiarly Australian code: one that allowed for ambiguities and differences. It didn’t even have a standard field size. Nor does it, to this day. The beauty of Australian Rules football is its very ambiguity.
And so I watch the Football tonight, and I’ll likely watch it when the Socceroos play early in the hours of Monday morning. I grasp its vastness and its significance. But I can’t love it, they way I do Aussie Rules, because Aussie Rules is our game. It’s not a game adopted from an imperial power. It’s not a game adapted from a foreign force.
It is our game. It is what we do best. It is what we did first. And forever, God willing, it will be our game.
It seems hardly a day goes by now when I’m not frustrated by the overwhelming white-straight-maleness of the world in which we live. At work, the entire chain-of-command above me is male and white and straight. During my postgrad degree, I’ve had just one female lecturer, and one male lecturer who wasn’t white. Political parties are run by white, straight men. Sure, we have Kristina Kennelly in NSW, but she wasn’t the leader of the party during an election. We’ll see how well she goes against a straight, white man in 2010.
And every day, I read blogs and articles and features about American politics, my real interest and my not-so-secret ambition. Looking at my Google reader, looking at the list of contributors on various sites, I’m always disheartened by their straight-white-maleness, but most particularly by the maleness. There’s one or two female contributors here or there, but given the rates at which women are now achieving university degrees, it just seems entirely disproportionate.
But then I get frustrated, because for all my complaining, why is that not me? Why am I not a successful political pundit, or running for office, or writing that first, great novel? I have the capacity, I don’t doubt that. But somehow, I lack the will. This blog, which I’d hoped to be my political voice, often descends into ramblings about music and my life, overly personal and not overly insightful. I can’t seem to find time in my days- or, more accurately perhaps- I can’t seem to find the energy in my days to think, really think, and come up with good ideas.
And I’m not interested in the party process in Australia, unwilling to toe the line against my better judgement, and to play games in local organisations, so I’ve closed that door too. Even at uni this semester, I’ve been struggling extraordinarily, sure to bring down my to-this-point strong average because I’m having trouble focusing and I just can’t get my head in the game.
So here my feminism and the reality of my life meet: is it fair for me to expect of others what I can’t seem to do myself? And is this strange unwillingness, this lack of focus, this frustration, the product of a world in which women are expected to bear the burdens of so many, largely home-based expectations, that we’re distracted from arguably bigger things.
Would I be more successful if I didn’t worry about my weight? Have I internalized myths about domesticity to the extent that I am crippled by my need to have a tidy house? Is the pressure I feel to do “normal” things on a “normal” timetable, like settling down, somehow undermining my drive to take extraordinary risks?
Or am I just lazy?
Or is it that, as a woman, I have to work extra hard, be extra-extraordinary, in order to get the opportunities? Can I write with an authentic voice and still be heard, or do I have to mimic a male one?
I wonder whether my frustration stems from my unwillingness to do anything to affect change, or whether it comes from the fact I already am trying, and just treading water…
And this is what they said. I swear, I talked at length about the fact it was a CONGRESSIONAL internship and I worked in the Office of Rep Sam Farr, but they left all that out and only talked about the fact I visited the White House.
The story part II:
And just in case that wasn’t enough, here’s a link to scanned version of the story (just click on the thumbnail below). You know, just in case you wanted it.
I was on Q&A last night, on the ABC. It was pretty epically awesome. They picked my question to ask and, when I asked it, there was a MASSIVE round of applause. I blogged at the USSC about the experience, and why I think the question mattered (it was on the US’s response to our proposed internet filter).
The video is here. I’m at the 44 minute mark (don’t worry, it allows skipping).
So this morning, I looked at the Sydney Morning Herald website, and an article about the Ambassador’s answer to my question was the top story. Similarly on The Age (though it’s the same article as in the SMH), and on News.com.au, and the Herald Sun and a long article ran in The Australian.