Australians all let us rejoice..

Many Australians read this blog and I’d love for them to come over and comment on this post and give me their insights or perhaps make a post of their own. Does anyone else feel like they don’t belong here in this country, or is it just me? The Hump Day Hmmm topic this week is – Race, Society and the Internet. We Aussies have a unique view on this topic, I think.

Australia is a multi cultural land. I have been raised to appreciate and respect other cultures, traditions, beliefs – and I do. We have people from many lands who have come here. The Australian Census in 2006 lists over 30 different countries of birth for the current residents of this country – and one of those categories was “other”, so the real truth is difficult to know.

If you ask an Australian what does multi-cultural mean, they will generally mention food. Yes we have many different foods here in this country but it is about so much more. Language. Religion. Beliefs. Genetics. Art. All of that plus a lot more – right down to how the homes smell and whether you take your shoes off at the door or not.

Where I grew up was a fairly typical Australian neighbourhood. Across the road lived people from Sweden. They spoke Swedish and taught me some Swedish. They had a REAL pine Christmas tree. They had exotic names. Next door to them were people from Poland. They were stand offish. They decorated their Easter Eggs in the traditional Polish Pisanka style. Next door to them were people from Italy. Oh, the food. They took me to Midnight Mass and I adored it.

At primary (grade) school, my first best friend was Ellen. She was Chinese and just as much of an outcast at school as I was, which was why we got along so well. We both had a crush on Iva Davies from Icehouse. In year 7 there was a school camp, and Ellen was the only person whose parents would not allow her to go. In solidarity, I refused to go, and the two of us stayed behind, the only two out of almost 100 students. Her parents had a Chinese restaurant and we would go there after school, folding napkins, eating chicken and sweet corn soup, spring rolls and prawn crackers and drinking Coke. I still find it hard to drink anything else with Chinese food. The two are forever associated for me.


Iva Davies, as he was back then. Noice!

My second best friend was Leila. She was from Iraq. Her home smelt mystical. I cannot describe it other than to say incense sticks and spicy food. She had arrived in Australia very recently and there was a lot of fear and concern for family and friends left behind. She had the most beautiful exotic clothes and gorgeous dark curly hair and this accent which seemed to be to be sent from Heaven. I wanted to talk like her.

My third best friend was Rachel. She lived three doors up. Her parents were second generation Australian, from English stock. Her mother had this major thing about naphthalene flakes and moths. She would sprinkle naphthalene flakes on the floor and vacuum them. The smell was impregnated into Rachel’s clothes and some of the kids teased her about it. Me personally I liked the smell from a distance but going into the house was difficult, you almost needed a gas mask to survive it.

We were the four – inseparable. We came as a package. When primary school ended, none of my three best friends went to my high school. I arrived there and I was the outcast. I was not stick thin. There were 500+ people in my year level. The only people who would accept me into their group were the “nerds”. Mostly I retreated within myself because people were so rude and nasty to me. I began to hate school and look forward to the weekends when I could see my old friends from primary school. By the end of that year the four became people I saw less and less often. They’d got involved with their own school lives – but where did that leave me?

I ended up going to church to seek out people I could be friends with. There I met my new best friend who was my best friend for all of high school and quite a few years after. She was second generation Australian, her parents were from the Isle of Man in the UK. She went to a different school than me, but she was an outcast there – she was also overweight like me and she was a diabetic. She spent a lot of time in the hospital which was near to me, and I spent a lot of time there with her. I’d walk to the hospital after school and stay there until my parents picked me up about 9pm.

Around this time next door to us on the right side a new neighbour moved in from Malaysia. He was a later addition to the neighbourhood, arriving in the late 80’s. He was not too much older than me and his parents had sent him and his brother out here to go to school. I had a major crush on him but I never said a word, feeling he would be terrified by it. Instead we became very close friends. He would go back to Malaysia for several weeks over Christmas and his absence was like a gaping hole. You took your shoes off at the door. Often Leonard would find large huntsmen spiders in his shoes and say maybe this custom was not a good idea in Australia.

The majority of the population here are not “native” Australians. I was born and raised here and no matter how much I might want to be, I will never be considered a “native” Australian, just like many Americans will never be considered “native” Americans – though I don’t think Americans feel it in the same way I do (do ya’all?). I do not have any Aboriginal blood running through my veins. Many Australians would consider that to be a good thing – I personally wish there was, for many reasons. First and foremost is I want to be considered a “native” Australian. I was born here. This is my country. To be told I am not native to my own country is honestly one of the most irritating feelings.. it seems petty and pedantic but it really stings and this annoys me more the older I get.

I don’t actually know very much about my ancestors or how they got here but I do know there’s Scottish blood on my Mother’s side and English blood on my Father’s side. Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to men in kilts. :) I have never seen Braveheart and I don’t understand much about Scottish traditions. I am hugely attracted to Aboriginal Art. Something about it speaks loudly to me. When I first started doing art I kept seeing dot paintings in my head.

I’m no master in Australian History or anything, but over 200 years ago the English used to send their convicts here. People who stole a loaf of bread would be shipped out to Australia as a punishment. Whoever thought up that idea had obviously never been here. The place has amazing natural beauty. Aborigines have been treated very badly in this country since about the time the convict settlers arrived. There is a lot of anger on both sides – everyone is angry, actually. It’s not my intention to go back over the history and explain why people are angry and to be honest what is in the past should be able to stay in the past. Let’s live in the now, not the past. Right?

Of course things never work that way. The major issue is, somebody introduced the Aborigines to alcohol, drugs, and petrol sniffing. Some people tried to do good things and built houses for the Aborigines to live in, perhaps they thought it would help to make them “civilised”. They were quite offended when many of the Aborigines pulled out the floor and took off the roof – they need to feel the dirt under their feet and see the stars above their heads. Oh, and some people stole a bunch of their children, claiming those kids weren’t being looked after. In fact an entire generation of Aboriginal children were stolen out of their homes. The Other Half’s own Mother was one of this stolen generation. She wasn’t wearing shoes in her backyard. That is why she and her brother were taken away.

Aha – did you pick up on that? The Other Half has Aboriginal blood in his ancestry. Oh, he’s pretty white. You can’t tell by his skin color. We believe he has two generations of white blood, though nobody can be sure, that whole stolen generation thing gets in the way of the family tree, and his Mother did not truly embrace being Aboriginal because of being stolen. It was something mentioned in a whisper. He does have a lot of the typical Aboriginal genetic traits – a thick skull, a wider, flatter, sort of squished onto his face nose, curly dark hair. To me The Other Half looks a little bit like Guy Sebastian, except without the groomed eyebrows.


Guy Sebastian from Australian Idol.

Guy is a fairly unusual Australian Idol – he was not born here. Guy Sebastian was born in Klang, Malaysia to a Sri Lankan and Malaysian father, and a mother of Portuguese and English descent who had been raised in India.

If you were to look at The Other Half chances are you would guess he is from the middle east – since September 11, he cannot get through security at the airport without being vacuumed to see if he is carrying explosives. People are always surprised when *I* tell them he is Aboriginal and their initial reaction is “I thought he was from (middle east country). He does not tell people. He doesn’t mind me telling them, but to him it’s not important. It is also not a part of him because he was not raised in that culture.

To me, who values the fact that he can call himself a “native” Australian, this is pure blasphemy. On one hand I can see why – some people have a stereotypical view of Aborigines – that they are drunk homeless people. It’s not true for the majority of Aborigines, but it *is* true for a small group of them. Of course that small group are the more noticeable ones when you’re walking through the park they are drinking in. If I had the smallest amount of Aboriginal blood in me, I would rejoice and embrace the culture with open arms, because at least then I would feel like I belong here.

Because they were treated so badly in the past, like America there is now the politically correct non discrimination thing going on. Some jobs are advertised with “Must be of Aboriginal descent”. The Other Half would never apply for one of those kinds of jobs, because he does not think it is fair to anyone. He does not want to be someone’s “token” Aboriginal. There’s also a large range of free services he would have access to if he chose to identify himself as being of Aboriginal descent. He won’t do it. He says it is because he has no proof that he is Aboriginal other than what his mother has told him, and what are they going to want, DNA samples? I say the same thing about those jobs where people have to be of Aboriginal descent – do you have to take along some proof?

I sit here in a land of many cultures, and I feel completely lost. I don’t have my own culture. I mentioned before when I was growing up in primary school my best friend Ellen was Chinese. That had such enormous meaning to me. She had a language of her own, her parents ran a Chinese restaurant, when you went to her house it was filled with traditional items from her parents homeland. My house seemed empty in comparison – full of love, but no cultural history. If you asked Ellen – what is your culture – I am sure she would have a list of things as long as her arm. If you ask me – what is my culture? I don’t feel like I have one. I don’t belong here. I am here, but I don’t BELONG.

To counteract this feeling of not belonging I have begun to carve out my own culture. I take pieces from other cultures that I like, and I adopt them as my own. I have a real pine Christmas tree. I cook Italian comfort food when I feel unhappy. I eat Chinese once a week and when I feel sick I cook chicken and sweet corn soup. I love Feng Shui, aromatherapy, incense sticks, Geisha dolls, midnight mass, the Norwegian language because it speaks to me on a level I don’t even understand, beaches and Aboriginal art.

None of these small, stolen traditions will ever fill that hole I feel. It will never make me belong the way I see people from minorities belong. I don’t have my own language – and when I do type the language I know, Australian English, I am accused of not knowing how to spell. Not just by people reading my own blog but by my OWN WEB BROWSER!!! Here we use ou – favourite, colour, etc. Words that I was taught to spell in school show up with a red line under them in Firefox.

Australians, I believe our biggest challenge is still to come. We now face a new religion arriving on our shores. It’s been here for a while but now it is beginning to make its presence known. I have never been more uncomfortable. I do not like some aspects of this religion at all, in particular the Hijab and Halal. Cugat once said something very intelligent to me about Halal and I hope he repeats it in the comments – about the origins of it.

I find myself offended by what seems to me to be a religion where women are considered lesser creatures. Of course I could be wrong but that is how it looks on the face of it. I believe I may be beginning to develop a prejudice against this religion and this means I am going to have to learn more about it.

Despite the same Qur’anic obligations being issued for men and women, rules regarding dress developed so that men were to cover from their navels to their knees, whereas a women were to cover all their bodies except what was essential, that is, the hands and face.

What offends me the most is Halal. The one thing I do consider truly Australian is the Aussie Hamburger – we put everything on there we can think of. Beetroot, egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pineapple, avocado. Now some places you can no longer get bacon because they are Halal. I wrote this post – Hang on a minute – on that topic back in November and also – Another non-religious post – as yet my views on that have not changed. I need to remember to look deeply to find the similarities between myself and people who follow this religion or else there’s a chance I might not accept them. That’s difficult when you feel offended as a woman by such a religion – how can I reconcile the woman I am to the women who follow something which seems to be oppressive to women?

Hump Day Hmmm, internet, life lessons, Muslim, religion, women

Offensive words and the Aussie way.

Aussies reading this, I need your input and comments. ;) Recently during my blogging chicks commenting challenge, I found myself breaking my own commenting rules. Specifically – “If you’re seeing red, get out of there fast – and as politely – as possible”.

A very judgmental blogger had stated that they would not read a blog if it contained swear words, and stated that they felt anyone using swear words basically was a bad writer incapable of expressing themselves in any other way. Them’s fighting words to an Australian – at least they were to me.

Living here in Australia I hear swear words all the time, it’s a fact of life. There is not one single word that shocks or offends me. Not even the C word. In fact I know people who use that as a term of affection. If one was offended by these words, you would probably find life quite difficult here in this country – Aussie readers, do you agree?

At the same time I have recently changed the way I do things here at the blog with regard to swear words. I put a * in them. This is something I do for the readers, not for me. That is because I do understand that some people are offended by these words.

So over the past few days while I have been cleaning my bookshelves (a job I finally finished) what this blogger said has been bugging me. I’m not going to link to the blog because I do not feel she deserves the traffic.

To write off everything a person says because of the occasional swear word? Isn’t that akin to writing off everything a person says because they are {insert one of the following – black, white, yellow, pink, gay, lesbian, heterosexual, republican, democrat, right wing, left wing, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, is my point made or should I continue?}. So I am a “swearer”. So I am going to hell. Or something. That doesn’t mean I am somehow “lesser” or my words have any less meaning.

I won’t lie to you guys (and Christian readers, please do not be offended by this, read the whole thing before you get upset) – I have struggled with this commenting challenge. First of all, it’s the blogging *chicks* and I’ve had some really terrible experiences with women during my life time. So the reality is, women scare me. Mostly. :) And I say that being female myself.

The other thing I have struggled with – many of the blogs belong to people who are Christian. I have always been somewhat scared of the apparently very religious after some bad experiences with the religious in my teenage years. The Christians I have known have never acted like true Christians – they preach, but do not *practice*.

I used to be Baptist. I used to go to church. The trouble was, the church I went to was more like a social group with cliques and some of the people were extremely nasty. It put me off church and Christians so much that I’ve never gone back. Since then I have often felt people who believe in God are as alien to me as people who believe UFO’s are coming to the earth to collect them.

I respect the right of everyone to worship whoever they choose, don’t get me wrong, but I do find it difficult when people are very judgmental and impose their religious views on others, especially in the areas of topics like a politics, sexuality, a womans right to choose, and the worst of all in my opinion, the religion where parents refuse to let their very ill children have blood transfusions which would save their lives. It’s an alien concept to me that you could care more about a religion than your flesh and blood child who is dying in front of your eyes.

I had a moment of panic at the start of this challenge when I opened up the first 10 blogs and the majority of them were Christians. But I’ve stuck with the challenge because I have found points of commonality with the people – even with the Christian people, several of whom I have now added to my google reader. Had you asked me at the start of this challenge would I be able to find Christians worth adding to my google reader, the answer would have been NO. Probably with a swear word in front of NO, too. :)

There’s blogs on the Australian Blogs Community that I struggle with because they have a very different point of view on some topics to what I do. I’m still willing to hear what they have to say. I listen to people who consider themselves left wing and right wing. I am incredibly tolerant in so many areas. Even I am surprised by how tolerant I am, from time to time.

What I have trouble tolerating are people whose minds are closed – who won’t listen to others and who will never change their opinion even when evidence suggests they should. This is why I have trouble with people who identify themselves as “right wing” or “left wing” when it comes to politics, because they seem to blindly support one side or the other. I’m a person who supports the side that is *right* and that means I can swing from one wing to the other in a heartbeat.

My blog has 5 hits for the F word on Technorati. Google comes up with 23 but it counts several of these more than once. If that negates everything else I have ever said here on the blog for some people, then so be it. ;)

As I go back through my posts I will be editing swear words to have * in them. I apologize to any readers who may have been offended by my using these words in the past, and I do intend to use * in them in the future. It’s not because of that very judgmental blogger, it’s because I do respect and care for my readers and I do not want to impose my swearing on them. I know not all of them come from a place where the F word is as common as hello.

Sephy posted on this topic today also, these two posts tie in quite well together.

I meant to write about interpretation today but it didn’t happen. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my act together on that one.

Australia, commenting on blogs, feed readers, mistakes I made, women

This will not come as a surprise.

Ms Rein has made the decision to sell the Australian part of her business, because her husband wants to be Prime Minister more than he wants to back her up as a husband. Oh, she probably wants to redecorate the Lodge herself, so it’s not an entirely selfless choice, however it shows that an ambitious man can be the downfall of a highly successful woman. It was predictable and we all saw this one coming a mile off, but I cannot disguise my disgust.

As yet there seems to be no outcry of outraged women, which is highly surprising to me. Could it be all the feminists vote Labor and they don’t want to say anything for fear of losing yet another in a long string of elections to a man who honestly looks like he should be on the muppet show?

What is right is what is right, regardless of which party you support. The fact that Kevin has not said – she made a mistake but her business concerns have nothing to do with me as a politician and we’ll put whatever procedures in place to make sure everything is 100% above board and nobody can have any complaints of favoritism or whatever. She’s my wife, this is her business, and I don’t give a shit how politically damaging her mistakes in business can be to me, because I’m a man with a set of balls who can stand up for himself and say hey, leave my wife alone. You want to pick on someone? Pick on me.

However, he did not do that, and what he’s saying to everyone by the course he is taking is – you win. You want to pick on anyone else in my family? I’ll convince them to give up whatever you want if it means I can have the top job. Bully me some more, it’s fine. It’s perfectly ok, because I’m going to cave whenever I have to just to shut you people up.

Ms Rein, this choice you have made is absolutely a backward step for women in this country.

politics, what not to do, women