Friday, April 28, 2017

Phallic Friday - gender issues

I've been thinking a lot about gender and gender issues lately. It's not something new to think about, but I've been thinking more deeply because of a story I was writing. I've submitted that story, but still the issue is playing on my mind, so I might have to keep writing and thinking about this. So there might be a few Phallic Fridays on the issue as I mull it all over.

There was an article sometime last week on (you can find it here) about an American NFL player, Aaron Hernandez, who had committed suicide in gaol after supposedly killing another player (in 2013) because he knew Hernandez was bi-sexual and had teased him about it. Hernandez had a female fiancée and a child with her, but also a long-term male lover from high school. The man he killed went out with the sister of Hernandez's fiancée. It’s believed Hernandez had a male lover in gaol and left a note to him explaining his previous actions, before his suicide (2017).

First I'd heard of this case, since we don't get a lot of US news. But it grabbed my attention because my story was focussing on a MM couple in the Aussie NRL, and I had a F hook up with them (that's where my MMF begins). Of course, seeing something about a bisexual footy player caught my eye...but I didn't expect the killing, gaoling and suicide to be the outcome. That is horrifying.

MM relationships are as old as time, or close to that anyway! In Roman and Greek times, they were fairly commonplace. As in many Eastern countries in ancient times. Or at least my memory of history says this. When I did a bit of a wiki-read, it appears that there's an almost cyclical nature of acceptance and rejection of homosexuality through time (including everything between those extremes).

Currently, in Australia, in male team sports, homosexuality is not present, or at least publicised or publicly acknowledged. I wonder if this is because most Aussie men see team sports as physical and strong, and they see homosexuality as weak? Of course, I'm making gross generalisations here but I don't think I can think about this topic without going for sweeping generalisations, at least until I get issues sorted in my head.

Just as a total contrast, when I was young, female sports at the elite level was dominated by homosexuals especially team sports. I worked with a lot of sporty girls and played team sport with them. Some were in the state and national cricket, soccer, basketball and hockey teams. I was a naive lass who had no idea, and really didn't care or think about, a person's sexuality. Imagine my surprise when a girl in my team quietly confided in me that now she was leaving I was the only straight girl! When I got over my shock, I didn't care. I was never any good, so I was never going to try out for elite sports, so it didn't matter. And I 'radiated straight vibes', a friend told me, so I wasn't going to be hit on. Besides, these girls were my friends because they accepted me no matter that I was shit at sport, no matter that I was straight, no matter that I was quiet and boring - so I accepted them back. They brought me no harm, in fact their acceptance gave me much happiness and a lot of fun times.

So why are women's team sports accepting of homosexuality, and men's team sports aren't? 

I wonder if the peak bodies and those organising the sport, historically, had a particular bias that changed the people who were chosen to play? Was it 'marketed' in different communities? For example, in 1908, rugby league broke away from rugby union over payment issues, so rugby league became the working man's game and they were paid to play; union became the rich man's game and it was amateur.

Or is it that 'dykes' are seen as 'tough' and so playing physical team sports is 'natural', whereas for men, it's the opposite? 

Both of these seem to be too simplistic reasons. Maybe there was a combination of both. Maybe there are other reasons I haven't even thought about yet.

Another total generalisation, but in my experience, men seem far more concerned by homosexual men than women are of homosexual women. Maybe this male homophobia has seen homosexual men excluded from team sports. That's probably more likely, even if another gross over-simplification and generalisation.

I still don't understand how/why your sexuality can/does determine what sport you play. I still don't understand why your sexuality has to be anyone's business.

Am I missing some thoughts here? Is there more to the sport and sexuality issue?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - healthy river

My local river is looking pretty healthy at the moment, which I'm putting down to the three occasions it's been opened to the sea in the last 3 years (I think it's been that many over that time period, but I might be wrong).

When we first moved here, the riverbank was silty sand but it had a lot of underlying black ooze in it. When I walked along at low tide, it'd be usual for the dogs and I to come home with black feet, and legs if we sank in! Now, that rarely happens.

At the farthest end, in the quietest spot water-movement-wise, there are quite a lot of mangrove seedlings growing. Mangroves are a great ecosystem, so I love seeing one starting here. For me, once the sand and water are conducive to plant growth, and then plants grow, then animals, birds and fish move in, and an ecosystem takes shape. While nutrients cycle around, plants and critters do their jobs and things remain healthy and happy.

Look at all the crabs and what not that have erupted from the sand at low tide. Through their search for food, they'll be cleaning the sand. Then birds will come to feed, poop and add nutrients. Provided they don;t eat every critter around, this can cycle nicely while the mangroves grow.

We have a lot of migratory birds that have headed off now, so this will allow the critter population to increase with less bird feeding pressure.

But as the river gets dirtier, and saltier, because of little influx of clean water, I despair a little for my end of the river. I know when we arrived, it had been sealed up for 25 years so it was at its worst...I'm just hoping that doesn't happen again. I'm hoping we get some regular, or semi-regular, nature breaks to the sea.

And I'm also hoping that the well-meaning people who want a permanent opening to the sea don't get to change the ecosystem too much. We chose our little town because it was 'country' and full of nature. In recent years, there's been a huge number of trees cut down, less wildlife, and more people wanting a 'city' here. But that's another soapbox, and I won't digress there (I might never stop!).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Remembering all those who fought for freedom and our country.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - Bar Tailed Godwits

There are Bar Tailed Godwits in our river, feeding in the shallows. There are quite a lot of them but I've only photographed a few here.

If you're after more information, the Museum of Victoria has some here.

They are migratory birds, coming from Siberia and Alaska, where they breed. They spend summer in Australia, arriving in August or September, and leaving about March. Hmm...since it's April, I guess these are the ones who stay in the southern summer for as long as possible. Although, maybe I did take the photo a few weeks ago, so it would have been the end of March then.

Safe travels guys! See you later in the year.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Story - The Atomic Weight of Love

I read The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J Church this week and this long review with spoilers is me trying to have my own book club to organise my thoughts. So if you don't want to read spoilers, please stop now.

This is an incredible debut novel. It's a deceptively easy read because it's well written, smooth flowing, but packs so much into the story.

Essentially, it's the story of a woman's life. It opens when she's 88 and then it's a reflection on her life from early childhood to date.

It covers an interesting time period for women, science, society and the world in general. It spans the 1940s to the 1990s in some detail. The choice of protagonist, Meridian Wallace, and her choice of husband, Alden Whetstone, allows an interesting view of the times.

Meridian is one of the few women in her science classes at university, although she has female friends (I got the impression they were nurses). She's planning to go to graduate school to study crows for a masters and/or PhD. I don't understand the American education system very well, but it seemed Meridian completed her degree but no post-grad degree. Interestingly, later in life she's mixing with wives of scientists and all these wives seem to have PhDs and look down on her - it made me wonder how so many women got PhDs when Meri came across so few women in her classes, but it's a minor issue :)

While at uni, Meri attends an extra lecture given by a physicist who's discussing the mechanics of flight. After the lecture, she has coffee with the man and continues their discussion of flight and physics. She feels this is a meeting of the minds and she's quite taken with the discussions with Alden, even if he is 20 years older.

While engaging in these discussions over coffee/meal, Meri is stepping out with fellow student, Jerry. Jerry appears to be a 'player' and Meri's friends are quick to exchange info about Jerry's other girls. To me, Jerry seemed honest and cared for Meri, respected her choices, beliefs, brains, and was a better choice than the vague, Alden.

War breaks out and both men end up leaving Meri for the war effort. Jerry goes to fight; Alden to work on nuclear research. Again, Jerry writes and attentive, while Alden is vague and his work takes precedence. Meri's friends tell her that Jerry writes to other girls too. Meri becomes engaged to Alden, yet it takes her an awful long time to admit this to Jerry, who severs contact. Meri really never faces/admits feelings for Jerry, and this is one of her major character flaws for me. She's very like Alden at times.

Alden's work requires secrecy and Meri has dreadful trouble with this. It hinders their discussions. It affects their letters with censorship making more black than words. In some ways, Meri's rebellion against the censors is reflected later in her relationship with Alden.

Meri defers her offer of grad school to marry Alden and follows him to Los Alamos, after the war.

Much of the story from here is about Meri's struggles to fit in, to know who she is, what she wants, and what her purpose is in life. She's intelligent, but it seems as if her emotional intelligence is stunted. She's definitely an introvert, and in so many moments I felt a deep connection to her, yet there were times when I struggled to understand her logic, her reactions or her non-reactions. 

Unable to study, she does field observations of a local community of crows. There are some lovely descriptions of the crows and the crow community, and yet it takes an outsider and geologist to ask the question of radiation and the impact of the nuclear testing on bird life.

The question isn't addressed in the human community either - even when Alden develops massive tumours.

There's a strong 'feminism' theme in the book. Meri attends university and studies ornithology, after her mother has worked hard to afford to educate Meri after her father's sudden death. Meri gives up her career to be a wife. Meri is excluded from Alden's work, as are all the wives. Some wives accept this, and accept their subservient role, but not Meri. Women's lib is given some air time. Childlessness, and the role of children, is discussed. As is the lack of knowledge of the female anatomy, even among doctors. Lack of female sexual awareness, lack of discussion about sex among women, and lack of female orgasm, and indeed pleasure, is also touched upon.

There is quite a lot of social commentary in this book - or I took it to be social commentary. As well as women's lib, wars, particularly WWII and Vietnam, are discussed. There are characters who have various war experiences that allows Meri to ruminate, philosophise, and comment even if she has no direct involvement.

Common moments in life appear in the story - marriage, birth, death, illness, love, loss, friendship, agreement, disagreements, domestic violence, personal boundaries, sacrifice, philosophical differences, and questions regarding whether you should make life decisions for yourself or for others, or with others in mind.

This book made me question myself and my life choices. At the same time it gave reassurances and reasons why people make the choices they do. The book had me questioning love, because of the many different forms shown.

I found myself reflecting on how far women's rights have come in the last 80 years...yet it made me realise how many things had not changed at all.

It was such an interesting and intriguing book, deceptively easy reading despite being jam-packed with themes and topics that have filled me with thoughts and questions and commentary.

I'm glad I picked it up. The birds in the periodic table was a brilliant cover (the US cover I'd never have noticed). I look forward to the next book by Elizabeth J Church.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Phallic Friday - inie vs outie

I just saw this article and was horrified -

In the article, it says that a 16-year old was being teased because her vagina was an 'outie'. And, unlike a poking out belly button, an outie vagina is an ugly one and it was a warning for guys to keep away from her.

Dear God.

I'm speechless with the horror of this. As if women don't have enough shit to worry about with their body image. And to attack something that's 'taboo' even amongst other women is just horrifying. As the article says, women can't compare theirs with others. I've found women don't even talk about their vagina/labia/genitals. Some women don't even look 'down there'. 

If a guy criticises, then women are likely to believe what he says because chances are he's seen more female genitalia than she has. Many more, in some cases.

I have a friend who has seen lots of genitalia and I have been known to quiz endlessly about what's 
'normal' and he's most adamant that everything is normal. That's refreshingly reassuring. And I've been very glad to have that information and hold it close at times of doubt!

So, let me make his comment public knowledge -


Of course, if it's not normal for you, or you think things have changed or aren't right, then go to a Doctor for an expert opinion on your health.

But for all cosmetic purposes, believe my friend. I do.


Don't let anyone tell you anything else.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - Cuttlefish bones

Does your life ever go into a crazy period where you're not sure you're going to keep up? This happens to me, often, and I haven't worked out how to manage it yet.

I work a day job that goes through crazy periods and quiet periods. I was having a quiet period, so I took on a bit of outside extra work (you know, because writing isn't enough of an extra job!). The outside job was small, manageable in a decent time period. Or at least that's what it was when I took it on. Then it became huger, later, more work, and crazy...right at the same time that work in the day job bloomed. Insanity!

And in all that craziness, I'm sorry to say that my blog went out the window. Just into the 'too hard' basket. As did writing. And that's not good for my mental health. My people get all jammed up in my head if I'm not writing!!!

Anyway, I'm under control for this evening and I'm doing a wildlife post. Yipeee!!!

A few weeks ago I was wandering the beach when I came across a cuttlefish bone. We get them sometimes, so it's not all that exciting, except it was nibbled upon. See the teeth marks in the top? I took a close-up so you can see better.

And the round holes I thought could be bird beak marks and maybe they were while the bone was washed up. But what do you reckon the more half-moon marks are from? It's nothing big, because the cuttlefish bone was only 10-12 cm long, but they're deep and really show some chewing. It made me wonder if it was post-mortem or while the cuttlefish lived. Was it the cause of the death?

I don;t think I've seen a cuttlefish bone chewed upon like this before, but maybe I just haven;t noticed. We used to give them to our canaries when I was a kid, which made me think bird damage initially... but it's a pretty good, "who done it?", don't you think!

Do you have any guesses?