RU OK? Day


RU OK? Day strikes me as a thoroughly good idea but also a philosophy to internalize and take much further and, above all, off social media. We spend about the same amount of time on our phones and devices as we do working and a lot of that time is spent on social media. Most posts on social media tend to alternate between political/tribal declarations about how bad a particular person/political party/Donald Trump/the world is and posts about a holiday or award nomination or other generally good thing. Plus funny cartoons/animal pics/star wars remixes/weird things comedians have posted. These are all, to a degree, worthy things.

But most of the time, most of us don’t post stuff about how we’re actually feeling. And because we’re so busy scrolling through Facebook/Twitter/Reddit whatever we don’t spend time chatting to people. There’s lots of data on all of that, we all know it’s true.

And we also all know, though we may not acknowledge it, that below the surface a lot of us struggle. For some it’s ongoing, for some it’s temporary. I had a deeply traumatizing experience with an ex-partner a couple of years ago and for about a year I wasn’t okay. I maintained and kicked along but, especially after Stella died I was just numb for a long, long time. And the way I dealt with it was by talking. I went on and on and on about it to close friends. It must have been boring as hell to my friends but they absorbed it and eventually things got better.

During that time I posted stuff on Facebook (I know because it sends me reminders of memories that often include photos Stella) and i’m sure some of it got likes or shares or whatever but it didn’t and doesn’t matter and it didn’t and doesn’t help.

I appreciate the irony of posting this on internet but if you’re feeling down if I can suggest anything it’s that you start by getting off social media. Call a mate and catch up for a coffee or a beer or whatever. If you really need someone and they’re really a mate they’ll be there, no matter the time. When it comes down to it, all we really are, are the memories we imprint on other people. Some people are famous and leave a bigger imprint but at the end of the day with very, very few exceptions, the biggest mark most of us will leave behind is in the memories of your friends and family. They’re the people you impact. Not your FB friends or audience members who laugh at your jokes or your twitter followers. The people who really, actually know you.

So I hope you are okay, but if you’re not, stop reading this and catch up with a friend, hug a dog, or go for a walk in a park or, ideally do all those things at once.

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#322 & #323 “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?”

Captain Awkward

Here is Letter #322. It and the other letter are below the jump because it’s fucking creepy in there.

Edited to Add: It’s frankly depressing that this post has struck a chord with so many people, but I’m grateful and honored to be able to help the letter writers and to have given voice to what so many people were feeling. Unfortunately the demands of moderating this discussion have become overwhelming this week, so as of Monday, August 13th comments are locked. We’ll pick up this discussion some other time. Thank you for all of your insightful contributions and for making this one of the best commentspaces on the Web.</EDIT>

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Comedy Festival Dates 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 2.17.00 PM
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Imperial Hotel
23rd March – 2nd April
10:15pm & 3:30pm
Canberra Comedy Festival
The Civic Pub
18+19 March
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Here’s my latest post on Mamamia

It’s about being late all the time and includes pictures of a dog, bacon, and my second favourite jacket.

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The case against gay marriage

The Coalition met on Tuesday afternoon to vote on whether to grant a free vote on a private members bill supporting same sex marriage. The end result was a vote that went 66 – 33 against a conscience vote. The Prime Minister, declared that a referendum or plebiscite might be possible in the future which would allow the community to debate the issue. But the Australian people have already expressed themselves, repeatedly for years. Depending on which poll you look at 72% (Crosby-Textor) 68% (Fairfax/IPSOS) or 58% (Newspoll) support gay marriage.

Whichever way you dress it up, there really aren’t any arguments against gay marriage that aren’t founded in homophobia, or in abstract concerns over tradition that have little substance. So let’s review them.

  1. Think of OUR children

If we allow gay marriage then parents might have to explain to their kids about gay people

This is one of the arguments made by the Marriage Alliance, a fun-loving group who recently ran ads on Foxtel and Nine.  Some who make that argument object to gay marriage because they don’t want to even compare homos and heteros. And for some, even explaining homosexuality is just… well gross. Here’s how you explain homosexuality: “Well honey, you know how you have a Mommy and a Daddy? Some kids have a Daddy and a Daddy or a Mommy and a Mommy.” There endeth the lesson.

  1. Think of THEIR children

Marriage is fundamentally about raising kids and gay people just arent suited because you need a man and a woman to do it.

It’s the same reason we insist that single mothers and fathers have their children taken away because exposure to both genders is so important. Right? Except of course we don’t. There are plenty of children who are perfectly functional, who are raised in unconventional families.

Oh, and there’s huge amounts of evidence that the children of same sex couples do fine. They do well educationally, very well socially, and grow up to be normal well-adjusted human beings. You can read a detailed study here on the Conversation. Don’t accept that? Here’s more research from the Australian Institute of Families.

  1. It’ll hurt marriage as an institution

What does this even mean? Seriously? Will gay marriage mean that straight people will get divorced more? Because they’re pretty good at that all on their own. Does it mean they’ll cheat more? Because, again, they’ve got that covered. Does it mean heterosexuals will get married less? Pretty sure those rates are dropping for complex economic and sociological reasons, again, already.

  1. Marriage is sacred

Marriage might once have been sacred (I don’t think it was, but let’s pretend), but we changed it. You know why? Because back in the day, husbands could rape their wives. Husbands controlled their wives property and could vote on their behalf. Over centuries we changed it and reformed it and introduced things like no fault divorce. Now there’s plenty of straight couples who’ve gone through multiple marriages. And that’s their business. It’s now an economic relationship and basis for raising children.

Gay people are doing that now and have been for years. And the real people who are hurt by denying the validity of gay relationships are their children. Why? Because when they meet kids at school with married parents, they have to explain why their parents aren’t married. They deserve to feel as normal as everyone else. BECAUSE. THEY. ARE.

  1. If we change the definition of marriage to include gays, beastiality and polygamy will be next

Let’s assume that there is a substantial community of people having sex right now with animals. Does anyone seriously think they’d want to MARRY THOSE ANIMALS. I mean, if you were getting it on with a horse would you want to INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE? In any case, where are all these people having sex with animals? Does Corey Bernardi just have a bunch of really weird friends? The ultimate source of this logic is revulsion with gay people. A fundamental revulsion that taken to its logical extreme, is dehumanising and seeks to legitimise violence against gays.

As for polygamy, it exists in Mormonism and Islam but has never gained a foothold in Australia and there’s not a particularly strong push for it. I don’t support polygamy and I don’t think it’s particularly healthy. And if generations of Australians feel the same way, it will never generate the support that gay marriage has. If 72% of Australians support polygamy in 100 years it might be a different story but the possibility of that happening is not a logical reason to resist an entirely different form of marriage. It’s a reason to argue against polygamy.

  1. The Bible/insert religious text here says X about homosexuals

Are you living your life literally according to the Bible? I mean literally, in line with every single one of the many, many, ridiculous rules it stipulates? If you’re not, then you’re making choices. And that’s fine, but you then can’t blame the Bible for those choices. It’s on you, so stop shifting the responsibility and start explaining yourself. The same goes for any other religious text.

We live in a democracy where politicians are elected to implement the views of their constituents. We learned over the last few weeks that Tony Abbott was willing to ignore the public’s views on entitlements and Bronwyn Bishop’s excesses. We learned today that the Abbott government is happy to ignore the public’s views on gay rights. Except the consequence isn’t just a few thousand dollars from the tax-payers’ purse, but denies the recognition of the love of thousands of Australians. That’s pathetic.

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John Hirst hates poor women

Some days it’s hard to know whether to read the newspaper or empty a staple gun into your genitals. Depending on the day and the publication, often the staple gun will leave you in less pain and better informed. But even amongst the torrent of mediocrity the Australian press pisses out on a daily basis this stands out. Meet John Hirst, historian, writer, and Larry David impersonator.

Usually copying and pasting individual sentences from a piece of writing would undermine the reader’s understanding of the author’s argument. But Mr Hirst has produced a piece of writing so incoherent and so totally lacking any proof for his assertions that reading isolated passages will probably give you a better idea of his meaning.

Here’s John talking about single parent households, specifically single mums, in the context of why welfare is an unsuitable solution to their ills:

“The mothers are given to junk food, daytime TV and no-good boyfriends, who might develop designs on an adolescent daughter. The worst mothers are addicted to drugs and alcohol and under their influence neglect and abuse their children. Pru Goward, the New South Wales Family and Community Services minister, reported recently on cases in which babies had to be removed from their mother at birth to ensure they survived.”

HOLY SHIT-STORM BATMAN, how’s that for a sentence?

“The mothers are given to junk food, daytime TV and no-good boyfriends, who might develop designs on an adolescent daughter.”

Envision for a moment the friends of said mothers discussing their problems: “Not only is Sandra dating Mitch, who’s raping her daughter, but she really enjoys Whoppers AND Dr Phil.”

Fuck you Sandra. How dare you date a man who might “develop a design” on your daughter. Someone’s been reading too much Austen and Dickens, though Johnny boy’s patronising view of women seems to date from that era too doesn’t it?

And not only that but it seems like people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are poor mothers. It seems being a drug addict leads to bad things.

But does the Hirst-tron back that shit up with some serious fact-bombs? Here’s the sentence that follows the paragraph above:

“The number of reports of child abuse has grown enormously.”

Yes, we know, and?

“It is not often realised that these do not represent a wider spread of abuse. The same hardcore abusers are being reported again and again. Welfare is the economic underpinning of the regular abuse of children.”

OH IS THAT SO? There’s not “a wider spread of abuse”? You haven’t heard there’s a Royal Commission into the systematic rape of children in religious institutions? You’re wrong Hirst, you’re just totally, completely fucking wrong. Child abuse may occur in poor house holds but to assert that it isn’t a universal problem is sheer bigotry. If the last few years have demonstrated anything, it’s that people in positions of power, often very rich people, abuse that power. Jimmy Saville wasn’t on the dole. The presumption that removing poor women from welfare would reduce abuse is insane. It would disempower them even more. And the suggestion that the problem is their taste in men is pure misogyny. But let’s accept your logic. If the boyfriends are rapey, surely if mum has to go out and work that’ll just make it easier for him to develop his “designs” on the daughter? Right John?

But don’t you worry people, John knows why this is happening:

“The work of Professor Julie Quinlivan and others shows that some teenage girls do plan to be pregnant. They live in poor, troubled families, dislike school and have the chance of only a dead-end job. A baby gives purpose to their lives and someone who will love them. Their escapist fantasy is supported by the government, which, if they become pregnant, will supply a single-parenting payment and rent allowance.”

Shame on you girls. Shame on you for not having the insight to realise that you’re too poor to breed. Shame on you for your disgraceful desire to feel wanted and loved. Shame on you and shame on the state for supporting your “escapist fantasy” that despite coming from “poor, troubled families” you can ever have a life with meaning in it, ever have anything more than the dead-end job you deserve because you’re stupid and poor.

Sorry, was I drawing inappropriate conclusions there? Don’t worry here’s the next sentence:

“Whatever the efforts these mothers make, their children are likely to have a bleak future. Anyone of common sense would know that setting up a poorly educated teenage girl to run a family is madness, but the policy continues.”

Yep. You just read that. Written in a national newspaper. Here’s the conclusion:

“This is not to say that a teenage mother should not have any support. There could be managed hostel accommodation for them where their babies would be safe, and they would have help and a chance to improve their skills and take part-time work. The public money spent on the single-parenting payment and rent assistance would help with the costs of the hostel.

Running institutions is a trouble for governments. The better course would be for the government to stop paying the single-parenting allowance to girls under 21 and fund non-government organisations to run hostels for girls who become pregnant and want to have their baby.”

This is the single, coldest, piece of writing I’ve read in a long time. Several of his assertions are totally inaccurate but the underlying logic actually makes me feel ill. Fuck the poor and the poorly educated. They can’t care for their children, even if they wanted to, and we need private institutions to intervene. For a historian, Johnny Boy appears to know virtually nothing about the history of institutions in this country. I’d compare him to a Dickensian villain but he’s too appalling. Yes there are some terrible mothers on welfare, no doubt there’s some sexual abuse, but there’s not a causative connection between welfare and child rape. Poorly educated people, people who are disempowered, are more vulnerable to everything. Welfare helps to ensure that some of them have a chance to alleviate themselves from poverty or at least avoid it’s most pernicious effects. If the annals of Australian history teach us anything it’s that treating disempowered people as if they’re not people leads to shameful outcomes. They’re people with dreams, ambitions, hopes, and potential, and no matter how ill founded any of it may be, for someone supposedly well versed in history to advocate their institutionalisation on the basis of generational poverty springs from the kind of thinking that in the not so recent past, opened some very dark doors indeed. If we’re to keep those doors closed, decent people need to speak up about this rubbish. The Age should be ashamed.

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Amateur Gay, Pro Comedian

Amateur Gay, Pro Comedian.

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