The more I bleed, the more I learn Making the most of the luxury goods tax, one factual month after the other.
So you might not be aware but menstruation is a thing that happens on the reg for many around the world. For the uninitiated let me enlighten you: there ain’t much joy to be found in it. For some, slight happiness can be found in the revelation that they made it through another month without accidentally bringing life into the world but that’s where it stops for silver linings – or in this case, more like reddish brown linings (sorry not sorry).
The monthly shed is accompanied by additional items being added to the shopping list with a luxurious 10% tax added to the price tag of these items – pads, tampons, panty liners, chocolate – you know, all the essentials.
It’s a dubious tax and adds maybe 10 cents a month, give or take, to the budget– which may not sound like a lot but a) it can add up over a while, and b) implies that these goods are something we CHOOSE. In a sense we do (it’s 2017, there are options, you can even get knickers that soak it all up but frankly they sound kinda icky to me) – but you know what I would choose if I could? To not bleed, mostly.
A nice consolation though, if you could call it that, to justify the spend, are the ‘fun facts’ that are found in the packaging of some brands (okay, one in particular but whatever). They’re great for pub trivia nights – they totally make the 3 to 5 days of pain, moodiness and icky feeling almost worth it. Almost.
I’m no campaigner, no activist but what I can do is string a few words together so when I thought, how can I help the sister hood I thought, I know, I’ll write some shit about the Libra facts – it’s the least I could do. Look forward to months more of entertainment. Unless I get knocked up. Dear God don’t let me get knocked up.
FACT #1 – April 2017: During the reign of Peter The Great, any man who wore a beard was required to pay a special ‘beard’ tax.
What a ‘fun’ first fact to explore – I mean come on, they paid a tax, we pay a tax – it’s like we’re equals!
I mean yeah, these guys were being asked to pay a tax for something that was optional – no one was forcing them to have a beard (unless they were one of those dudes that has a bit of a nothing chin – then they’re doing society a favour by covering that business up!) while I’m sure if you asked most women, they’d agree; involuntary bleeding once a month isn’t really something we’d choose if we could.
That being said, I’m sure that there are some of us ladies who would grow a beard if we could – because hey, why not, it’s all about choice! So Emperor Peter the Great was in power in the late 1600s – it was 1968 in fact when he introduced the beard tax mentioned on the Libra wrapper. The aim of this was to bring the Russian society in line with Western Europe (don’t worry he was doing other stuff too apparently) as beards had previously been deemed unfashionable in the society.
Wouldn’t it be a different story if old mate Pete was around now and trying to bring Russian society in line with the trends of inner city hipsters? Pete wouldn’t be making extra dough from taxing beads – if he was smart he’d have started an online store selling organic hand crafted beard oils and waxes at premium prices in 2012, just before the beard resurgence and flash forward to 2017 he’d be a cashed up entrepreneur. Pete you missed your calling.
Actually no, if Pete was alive in 2017 he would be a politician. Not an emperor, just a plain old minister, definitely found somewhere on the right side of things – probably inappropriately given the role of Minister for Women if I think about it. Because actually his beard tax was a bit dumb. First up, while people of different backgrounds and social status were charged the tax taking their status into account (the wealthy were appropriately charged more than the poor), the cost was still excessive. I mean come on; the blokes were just trying to look slick – or were just too lazy to shave and ladies, can’t we all relate to that? Especially this time of year, I know I’m not ashamed to admit that by then end of this month leg warmers aren’t going to be an added accessory on my body.
Imagine if we got taxed for something that our body did involuntarily? Oh, wait…
Peter The Great (I’m starting to think that is a terrible title, more like Peter the…shit)’s tax was abolished in 1772 – almost 100 years after it was first introduced. The internet tells me that he isn’t the only person to get wrapped up in taxing facial hair over the years but I guess feminine hygiene product wrappers don’t have room for all that. So let’s say that this tax was around for almost 100 years, here’s another fun fact; disposable menstrual pads have been made on a commercial scale since about 1888. Let’s just say that logically they’ve always been taxed – that’s now far more than 100 years that this even sillier tax has been around.
Beards = optional (but sexy, oh so god damned sexy) and a great place for accidentally losing your food and dignity (I found pizza cheese in my boyfriend’s the other day and we hadn’t had pizza for three days!)
Periods = unwanted, unavoidable, uncomfortable, unaffordable.
Both have been taxed rather unnecessarily. Despite the fact that I once got incredibly upset about finding a thick black hair growing from my cheek, if I had to choose, I’d take facial hair any day – at least I could put glitter and butterfly clips in my beard. You should have seen what happened last time I tried to do that with my period.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve had to write a post like this. I hope and pray that it is the last but I’m not that naive.
I’m the one who’s always making a joke, always up for a bit of fun and general silliness but I can’t make jokes about this because it’s tearing my heart in two. Every ounce of my being aches as I write these words, as I think about the state of the world that we’re living in today.
As I write this, we’re in the midst of a controversy in which media personality Sonia Kruger, after stating that she had “a lot of good friends who are Muslim” went on to state that, in regards to the immigration of Muslim people in Australia that “I would like to see it stop”.
I know that I’m not the only one who is commenting on this and of course Sonia isn’t the first person in a position of power to voice this view.
In the fall out to all of this, I’ve seen countless people on my Facebook feed share updates supporting the comments made by Kruger and to those people I say, delete me if you must, and ignore my views if you will. Should you choose to agree with the opinion of someone so clearly ignorant then I don’t want or need you in my life.
It’s tough enough making it through the day without being reminded that there are selfish, cold hearted individuals living along side me. This is one of the very few things that I wish I could be ignorant to.
The crazy thing is though, I was originally motivated to write this a few days ago, by a completely different situation, but thought that I’d sit on it and let myself calm down before I got behind the key board. Guess what? I stayed away and somehow I ended up even angrier. It all started on Saturday. I’ve been having a bit of a tough time, feeling a bit blue and everything was starting to feel a little overwhelming – basically the realities of modern society. I decided to take some ‘me time’, to get a massage to try and unwind. It was a solid ¾ of the way through the treatment and I was finally starting to feel somewhat relaxed when I heard a woman chatting in the room next door. In the typical manner that middle aged white women seem to address anyone from a background not the same as theirs, she was patronising the massage therapist – but in the sweetest way possible (the kind of way that you just pass her attitude off as result of her generation) however things turned nasty -she said something that enraged me beyond belief. She began talking about the Bastille Day terror attack in Nice. She explained that “in the Quran it says that good Muslims must kill all non believers, which is why we really shouldn’t be so welcoming of their kind”.
WHAT? Now I am of course supportive of free speech (but certainly not in the way that “we cry FREEDOM OF SPEECH” kinda people are) however I just wanted to scream SHUT UP SHUT UP. IT’S IGNORANT, UNEDUCATED PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT MAKE THIS WORLD DIFFICULT TO LIVE IN SO JUST SHUT IT ON UP.
I am SICK to death of the ignorance and prejudice that is running rife in this country. A year ago, I was verbally and physically attacked for wearing a scarf on my head to cover my hair from the rain, so I can’t imagine how my friends, from all manner of backgrounds face the day in a nation where things like this are just brushed off as ‘freedom of speech’. When someone can preface a hateful comment by saying ‘It’s okay, I’ve got *insert target minority de jour* friends” and think that it’s okay to behave in such abhorrent ways, then something is inherently wrong in the world that we’re living in.
I’ve been closely following social media accounts of my friends (yes, friends, people who I know personally and share incredibly special memories with) living in Turkey. Living in true uncertainty. These are my friends and I would never, ever dream of grouping them with extremists based on their religion. Because they are my friends, I know that in many ways they are just like me. They want the best life they can have for themselves, they have hopes and dreams. Since I first met them, they have become artists, musicians, nurses and police officers. We went out dancing together at night, discussed upbringings and beliefs and shared many meals. That is what you do with a friend Sonia, you don’t assume things about them and you certainly do not use them as a scapegoat for your ignorant opinions. You learn from them and you become a better person for opening your mind to a world beyond that in which you reside.
A friend of me has a child who is being raised by herself and her former partner. Her former partner follows the religion of Islam and therefore their child is being brought up with both Islamic beliefs and those held by my friend – which are probably as “dinky-die Aussie” as you can imagine. To some, it probably sounds like an interesting mix but it works and I can’t sing the praises of this kid enough – she’s an absolute champion. But I can’t imagine having to explain to her that she lives in a country where she might have to learn to defend her very identity. That would hurt.
Sonia Kruger said that “I want to feel safe and see freedom of speech”, Sonia, I want my friends to feel safe, I want my mates beautiful little kid to not have to learn defensive mechanisms to get through life and I want those escaping horrors that you will never ever be able to truly comprehend to come here, to a safe place.
It’s never going to be an easy ride but if we throw hate out the window it sure as hell is going to be a lot less bumpy. Why not start by chatting to someone whose life is inherently different from your own – and talk to them like the equal that they are, shit, you might actually learn something.
I’ve never really thought of myself as brave but it’s a word that gets thrown my way on a far more regular basis than I would like. Heading to the bar for a drink after a spot at a comedy night, it’s rare that I won’t have a complete stranger exclaim to me; “you’re so brave, I couldn’t do what you just did.”
It often leaves me scratching my head in confusion, I certainly don’t feel that getting up on stage, rubbishing on about failed relationships, sharing crude, debaucherous tales and randomly sprouting out of tune lyrics from my favourite pop divas makes me all that brave at all. Are they being honest or are they saying that I’m brave because I wasn’t good? I don’t think I am brave. More than anything, I feel like it might be a little bit self indulgent. After a recent encounter at gig I began to wonder about the term ‘brave’ –as I explored it within my own mind I started to travel down many paths within my own self.
I decided that to chat to some ladies who I think of as brave and whose life journeys have involved tough choices or hurdles along the way that have helped to define who they have become. Now I don’t know anyone who has run into a burning building or risked their life to save that of another however as I’m sure many of us know, an act of bravery for some is a simple as getting up the strength of get out of bed and face the world each day. Immediately I thought of my best friend Stacey, a lady who I genuinely believe is one of the toughest and most resilient that I have ever met. She hasn’t always been this way – in fact knowing her since we were in primary school, I always kind of considered her to be a bit of a hypochondriac drama queen (sorry babe!) however all of that changed almost two years ago. Stacey and I were living together and despite the warnings to the contrary, living with my best friend was one of the most fun experiences ever – but all of a sudden it changed. I felt like I’d been hit by a train so I can’t even begin to imagine how Stacey felt – within the space of a week, at age twenty four, she was diagnosed with MS and doctors also found a four centimetre tumour at the back of her head, attaching itself to her spinal cord.
The removal of the tumour was horrendous; the tumour was wrapped around the nerve that controlled the left side of her face meaning that it too had to be removed. My beautiful Stacey could only smile with half of her face and all of a sudden it seemed like her amazing flame had been dulled. It hasn’t been easy for her – that much is evident, but even then I still wondered – did she feel brave? When I asked her, she told me, “People call me brave all the time, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed…I never felt like I was being brave, I just felt like I was getting through each challenge.” Which I guess is what being brave actually is – right?
Stacey is basically blowing me away at the moment. Not only has she been through two more surgeries, worked hard to learn how to understand and live with her MS but she has also met an awesome guy – John and while he is certainly more than just a quick fix, Stacey did make me laugh when she explained; “People called me brave for going on blind dates but I don’t think that makes me brave – I just wanted to get laid!”
I don’t think I will ever be able to fully comprehend the level of courage that it has taken for Stacey to get on with her life and not just survive but absolutely thrive and I truly hope that I never have the opportunity to relate, I do however dream of having the bravery of the next two ladies that I spoke to. I first encountered Hannah Collins when I started working in my current day job – in fact she used to do what I do now, and she trained me up to take over her role. Since leaving the role she has volunteered in Africa, subedited a magazine and just recently moved to New York – with no safety net. I can only dream of having the guts to do what Hannah has done and as she explained, “I knew it was out of the ordinary but I also knew it was what I needed to do at the time.” Which once again brings up the idea of bravery versus self indulgence however, as Hannah enlightened me, sometimes to be self indulgent, you have to employ a level of bravery; “I felt a lot of guilt over leaving my family and friends, especially my family but I also knew that if I didn’t go and do it that I would only regret not going.”
There’s nothing more disappointing than a feeling of regret – I know that all too well.
Another clever lady who is taking the world by storm is the wonderful Laura Pietrobon – one of the most outwardly warm people I have ever encountered. I first met Laura when we were both sixteen and doing work experience at a radio station. Our paths crossed again at University but now she finds herself living in London, a dream I have always had for myself. She explained that “The first thing a lot of people said when I announced my move was something along the lines of “wow you’re so brave, aren’t you scared?” To be honest, I never thought this move was particularly brave.” However assessing the situations of others who have also undertaken the same challenge that she has she was able to see the bravery in their choices, “so maybe it’s all about perspective in the end” Laura concluded.
The concept of perspective actually, weirdly enough, put things into perspective for me. There are two aspects of bravery; one is perceived bravery, while the other is acted. So while you might not ‘feel brave’, the question is, if a person describes you as brave relative to how they define ‘brave’ in their own mind, while you might not actually be engaging in an act of bravery you could be brave simply because it is in the eye of the beholder.
At this point I was certainly envying the sheer guts that it took for these two ladies to do what they had done and luckily I had one of my oldest friends Hannah Willsmore (who I have previously described as my womb buddy since we’ve known each other that long) put things into perspective for me. Hannah has recently started her own business – rather sitting idle in a job that she was beginning to resent, she explained “I could’ve just stayed there being unhappy like so many of the others are” however she boldly chose not to – if only for her own sake. I guess this confirmed for me that it is hard, risky and yes, brave, to do something a little bit different but it’s probably harder to let it just pass on by while the world keeps moving.
Finally it was starting to click in a general sense – those around me who I viewed as brave, sure they were overcoming hurdles and individual adversity but each act of ‘bravery’ that I’d investigated had in ways just been a way of moving forward in life rather than choosing to remain stagnant, despite the challenges that may hold. I though, had been called ‘brave’ for the act of performance so I needed to know, is this something that other performers experience? After speaking to several male comedians it quickly became clear that ‘brave’ is a term almost exclusively reserved for female performers or those who deal with challenging and confronting material – it’s rare that a guy gets called ‘brave’ just for picking up the microphone but I think that might be a topic for another day.
In a performance sense I immediately thought of three ladies who I might be able to relate to and from whom I could learn. First up was Haley Brown, a wonderful and talented performer whose direction and style has profoundly affected my own. Haley faces her own physical challenges meaning that ‘brave’ is a word that gets thrown her way and for the first time since I began this exploration, the concept of the term being overtly problematic was raised, as Haley explained; “It’s a very close cousin of what folks in the disability community call “inspiration porn,” when disabled people do fairly ordinary things and are celebrated as being “brave” or “inspiring” for doing it while disabled.” Continuing on that theme of ‘brave’ not necessarily being a compliment, she elaborated “Often the word is awarded to individuals that society deems incapable of doing something who are “doing it anyway.”
I get that. While I may not have the same hurdles to face as Haley (whose work you can find here), there is that matter of my gender. It may be 2016 but don’t even begin to imagine that we live in a world where everyone is used to hearing the female voice as one of power, strength or, god forbid, humour. Sure times are changing however on more than one occasion (many, in fact) I’ve been outright told that “women aren’t funny”. That hurts and I can’t really put into words why – though mostly because it’s outright wrong. I like to think that I can prove those who hold that belief wrong. One woman who I know can do this is Nicole Henriksen whose giddily bizarre show ‘Techno Glitter Penguins’ made me laugh like nothing else ever had, before she slapped me in the face and tore my heart apart with her other totally different but equally brilliant show ‘Makin It Rain’. Despite obvious talent and a drive to succeed that is downright inspiring, Nicole has had experiences that have caused her to feel patronised when being referred to as brave; “I feel especially as a woman, and a woman of colour, the more it’s used “oh you’re so brave… really, really, brave… wow, so brave”… Why am I so brave, you know? Is that person implying that I’m brave for supporting myself, or performing, or what-have-you because my work isn’t good or isn’t financially viable? If so, why is that?” It’s a perspective that echoed my own thoughts, despite our somewhat different performance experiences.
Finally I reached out to the lovely Alice Tovey, wise beyond her years, who helped me to put it all together in relation to my own experiences. She identified the sheer fact that she and her material had been belittled at the discretion of particular audience members, choosing to let the fact that she is a young woman cloud their opinion of the content. However she carries on, continuing to present shows that push the boundaries in one way or another. She explained, “I think when most people are asked what bravery is, you’ll get back a picture of an Alexander the Great like figure, who against all odds conquered the world. Or Oscar Wilde, who opposed a regime to preserve the true self. Or An Sung Su Chi, who stood up to an oppressive and unfair government. These pictures are all perfectly valid and good definitions of bravery, but I think comedic bravery is a completely different thing all together.”
“Comedic bravery, I believe, is making an audience laugh at something, whether dark or absurd or unusual, and asking them why. That’s the power that a comedian has. What an audience laughs at will tell them more about themselves than what makes them cry.” But does Alice consider herself brave? The short answer is, yes – “In a way” How so? She explains; “I hope that I am doing just that, that I am pointing out some of the nastier things in our society. It can be confronting.”
Now I can’t say that I’m pushing the boundaries in the same way as Alice, but on a good day I am making people laugh at some pretty absurd ideas – and hey, maybe that is a braver concept than I first believed. I am yet to feel like I possess the same level of bravery that I believe some of the other women I have encountered do, and while I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable being told that I am brave for doing what I think of as ‘dumb comedy’ I suppose I can make brave my own. I can chose to hear it as a compliment rather than in a patronising manner and I can choose to use it as a motivation to push on. Most of all though I can be bravely self indulgent because with life experience under my belt I now know that without being brave enough to indulge my soul in doing the things that truly make me happy, I would ultimately be facing the tougher challenges of regret, disappointment and true sadness. While life is never as straightforward as simply ‘choosing happiness’ –I’ve learned that it can be pretty brave if you’re able to put in action a path that allows you to do so.
With rumours, myths and common misconceptions about our fair city — Adelaide residents have heard it all.
We grew up living in a city whose signature dish is a meat pie floating in pea soup, and where our major road is designed to only go in one direction. We know that even the craziest of ideas are possible. So when facts are more ridiculous than fiction – who can blame the uneducated *cough* interstate *cough* masses for taking tall tales as gospel.
Don’t be ashamed though Adelaide – let’s wear our weirdness with pride and explore the truth behind the rumours that the mean girls like to spread – and yeah, we’re looking at you and Sydney and Melbourne!
I just got back from Melrose and I’m already fantasising about going straight back. Melrose, never heard of it? That’s okay, I’m sure you’re not alone – it’s one of South Australia’s best kept secrets.
I can’t remember the first time I went there – it would have been when I was pretty young. My parents have always loved this little gem of a town – and who can blame them?! It’s about a three hour drive from Adelaide, located in the Southern Flinders Ranges with a population of no more than 500. Idyllic, spiritual, relaxing, warm and inviting are words that spring to mind when describing this gorgeous town – but it’s also absolutely thriving. As a mecca for the Australian mountain biking community with some of the best (so I’m told) trails in the country, barely a weekend goes by when there aren’t tourists in town for that very reason. Expertly supported by the team from Over The Edge, mountain biking is going great guns in this town. This is the thing, (apart from the general serenity) that drew my parents here. Just over a year and a half ago, my somewhat unconventional parents decided to have a bit of a ‘tree change’ – sell up their near city home, quit their jobs and move up to Melrose full time.
It’s been a bit of a process, it certainly hasn’t happened over night – there’s been a lot of hard work, sacrifice, sweat, tears and deliberation throughout the journey (which is still a real work in progress) however things are finally starting to take some kind of recognisable state. Many of their friends have called them crazy – why sell up a successful business and a nice house, quit a good job and move three hours out of the city?! Especially now the kids have finally moved out?! Good thing my parents don’t pay too much heed to the opinions of others – if they did then they probably wouldn’t be chasing their dreams and how dull life would be! Mum and Dad are planning to build accommodation specifically for mountain bikers – Dad can go on epic rides every day and Mum can indulge some of her artistic talents (she’s always been fantastic at whatever art or craft project she decides to take on; spray painting, stenciling, water colour, lead lighting – the list is almost endless! )
Me? I’m stoked. I can go on holidays to one of the most beautiful little towns in the world (big call, but valid) and I’ve got parents who aren’t afraid to do what makes them happy – which is surprisingly rare in a society where people are constantly striving to impress one another with their new boat, fancy sports car or new fangled electronic device. They’re bold and brave but certainly not crazy. Inspiring is a word that springs to mind. Sure, they don’t know that it’s going to work out but they’ve got a drive and passion that many would kill for. I envy the faith that they have in themselves to follow their dream and know that if they simply love what they’re doing, and do what they love, they’ll find a way to make it work.
We had a great time there this weekend; drinking (a fair bit…there are some great local wineries!), playing card games, going for relaxing walks and not so relaxing bike rides (there are very family friendly options available too!). We drank at both pubs (there’s plenty of variety!), had coffee at one of the three little cafes, browsed some of the gorgeous little shops and very quickly got in to the laid back swing of things. I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent my long weekend!
Mum and Dad’s accommodation should be ready later this year – I’ll post links once they’re up and running because this gorgeous little town is one that absolutely everyone and anyone should pay a little visit – we can just pretend it’s a secret!
P.S. – I spent some of the weekend reading the amazing book ‘The Art of Asking’ by the wonderful Amanda Palmer – I’ll probably talk about that in my next post so stay tuned xx
When my boyfriend walks past, laughing at my house mate and I saying ‘you know this is all fake right’; “No way, this shit is life or death, conflict in Gaza, sanctions on Russia, The Batchelor Australia, all important world issues”
The girls are walking in, a few stumble in their sky high heels and floor length gowns; “uh hmm if that was me I’d be gliding in like the elegant swan that I am, not a baby foal talking its first steps…amateurs!”
Brilliant, the one who they’ve framed as the ‘crazy stalker’ girl has arrived; “I don’t understand why they’re framing this as weird, singing an out of tune ditty you just wrote to a guy is freakin’ endearing…”
All the ladies have made it inside; “It’s okay to pour myself another glass of champagne, the boxing class I did two hours ago is still workin its magic…”
Osher Gunsberg comes on to tell us what the white rose means; “It’s not weird, not one bit at all that Andrew G is now called Osher because of a spiritual awakening…you gotta be a spiritual guy to be a presenter on this show…”
There’s a cocktail party with ONE MAN and 24 WOMEN; “I got this, I’d totes excel in this situation, no stress, I’d be all like “whatever, all these bitches ain’t got shit on me” and just generally dominate, none of this erratic craziness we’re seeing here…”
When it becomes clear that a number of women on this show have unaddressed psychological issues; “Ethics?! Who needs ethics! Making a top notch reality TV series means pushing the limits, even if the contestants are mentally unstable and will inevitably leave worse off than when it started…”
While drunk Sam stands looking longingly at Beautiful Blake (or BB as he will henceforth be known); “When trying to get a man’s attention, I’ve never once been that a) creepy b) desperate c) drunk…”
Boyfriend walks past again, this time he says ‘ugh, that shows is still on? Do you realise that it’s probably giving you eye cancer?!’; “Uhm has not, in fact it’s clearly increasing my IQ”
It’s over; “I literally can’t even. What will I do with myself for the next week until it returns? I may quiet LITERALLY die of withdrawals. What’s that? It’s on again Thursday night? But I have to go to the gym. I will go to the gym and watch the catch up episode online later…I WILL GO TO THE GYM….”