Page 1


contributors CHIEF EDITOR


Amber Weir

Scott Higginbotham



Max Vos SUBEDITORS Ailish Delaney Amber Weir Belicia Tjendera Kellie Balaam Maria Cristina de Vicente Capua Max Vos

Eleanor Roberts

















Evelyn Swindale Isaac Jay Curran Jonathan Park Lola Baldsing Natasha Provan Sally Henderson Sarah McKay Scott Higginbotham Willow Springate


Winnie Foss

Adam Smith


Amber Weir

Lola Baldsing



Belicia Tjendera




Cait Strutt

Chris Leopardi











Ayla Sapsworth-Collins

Danica Spear Daniel Patterson


Emma Ruben

Graphic Source

Jenny Maxwell Kenith Png Maria Cristina de Vicente Capua Max Vos SPECIAL THANKS


Caroline Wong

Dr Laura Glitsos


Luisa Mitchell Maryanne Shaddick


from the prez movement of young people demanding climate justice, this year has certainly kept us on our toes. Through it all, Grok and the Guild have stood with students to ensure that our voices are being heard. I never realised how short a year really is until I took on my role as President, but this realisation has left me in awe of how much the Guild has done for the students of Curtin in just 50 years.

AMBER WEIR beautiful and unique individuals. To understand thoroughly, and intuitively; that is the meaning of Grok. And we’re here for you—the students of Curtin.

Thank you for picking up a copy of our third and final issue of Grok Magazine for 2019—a publication run by Curtin students, for everyone. It has been my immense pleasure to serve as Editor this year and, as I reflect on my time at Grok, I am overcome with pride. The sheer talent, passion and authenticity of our contributors, who work hard to make this publication what it is, has inspired and educated me, often moving me to tears. Grok is more than a magazine; it is a platform to spread awareness and to advocate for others, a space for students to voice their concerns and interests, to showcase their creative passion, but more than anything, it is a community of

Since 1969, fifty years ago, this publication has covered student, state, national and global affairs, working tirelessly to provide quality content for the Curtin student community. In this edition of Grok we have tried to provide a mix of both light-hearted and issues-based articles for your consumption—some of them will be easier to read than others, but I would encourage you to approach each of them with an open mind. As my wonderful Deputy, Max, will speak about in his editorial note, the world is in desperate need of empathy. It is very easy, given the current socio-political landscape, to feel anxious and overwhelmed. However, if we have learned anything from the global movements we have seen this year and the extraordinary individuals that have taken part in them, it is that the power of people is limitless and when we work together, we have an incredible capacity to be a force for change. We’re all just trying to deal with our own shit; so be respectful, be open-minded and show empathy for one another. Thanks for having me. Good luck with exams and look after yourselves over the summer.

Amber Weir Chief Editor

Hello friends, Welcome to the final print edition of Grok Magazine for 2019, the final leg of Semester 2, and the last few months of the Guild’s 50th year! Looking at Grok and the Guild 50 years ago compared to Grok and the Guild today, it is incredible to see how much things have changed; however, one thing that remains the same is that Grok plays an integral role in representing the interests of students and the issues that are on their minds, allowing the community of writers and creatives at Curtin to flourish, and keeping the Guild transparent and accountable. 2019 has absolutely flown by; Guild Elections have come to an end, the next group of representatives has been selected and my retirement from the Guild is imminent. Reflecting on the past year, I am amazed by everything that has happened in the university and in wider society. From changes to Curtin’s assessment policy to a worldwide

This edition of Grok is a strong reflection of what university is meant to be: a community where ideas are explored and debated, people aren’t afraid to take on and attempt to untangle the messy and complicated issues, and the way we live and function as a society is constantly challenged. Student publications have a proud history of putting forward the ideas that shake up the status quo, and it is incredibly heartening that 50 years from its conception, Grok continues to uphold that legacy. It has been my pleasure to be the President of the Curtin Student Guild in its 50th year, and to support Grok as our student magazine. To all students who are reading this, I encourage you to get involved in your community: join a club, write something for Grok, or consider running in the Guild elections. The Curtin alumni I have met who were involved with the Guild, clubs, or Grok all remember their involvement with great fondness; the friends you make, the experience you gain, and the ways you grow could change your life forever. Thank you for having me, and I’ll see you around campus (but not for much longer!) In solidarity, Finlay Nolan 50th Guild President

NOTE FROM THE DEPUTY-EDITOR MAX VOS Hi, reader! I’m writing to you from the past, in a house I’m sitting, next to a sooky but sweet labradoodle—life’s good. I hope that the place you find yourself reading this note is safe and cosy; maybe a quiet spot under a shady tree, a warm towel on a beach, or propped up on a really solid pillow.

Designs brought to you in association with the Curtin Illustration Club

This year has been busy for me, I’m sure it’s been busy for you too. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the things I want from life, and no small part of this can be owed to the people I’ve met at university. Being part of both the Curtin Writers Club and Grok Magazine, I’ve been surrounded by fabulous writers, editors and artists. I find myself constantly inspired by their work and passion for their craft, something I hope you too will appreciate our final issue of Grok for 2019. Much has changed since the beginning of the year and, while some of it has been scary, it is both encouraging and inspiring to see people fighting back; campaigning for the freedoms and rights of asylum seekers, the protection of Indigenous sovereignty over lands and waters, and for the future welfare of our planet.

@ C u r t i n I llu s t r ati onC lu b

It is essential to channel this same passion into further empowering marginalised people in our society. A critical element in this process

of empowerment is being able to empathise. I believe that writing is an integral part of that process. Writing is about communicating with one another our ideas, experiences, thoughts, plans and ambitions, about drawing closer to one another. The articles, stories and art in this issue are no doubt the product of sleepless nights and a waterfall of iced coffee, and, even though you’re only picking up the shiny, finished product, I hope you appreciate how hard artists work to breathe life into otherwise blank paper. No matter your discipline, I hope you’ll come to love this community as much as I do.

www.C u r t i n I llu s t r ati onC lu b . com

Max Vos Deputy Editor



Why the Coming-of-Age genre continues to thrive Words// Daniel Patterson Design// Natasha Provan I always ask myself: what makes the coming-of-age genre so timeless? It’s a special genre, because it can target specific people’s circumstances at just the right time. It can remind us of our past, and it’s that familiarity and diversity in its stories which can make them connect individually, more than any other genre. There isn’t one specific element which makes a great coming-of-age film, but there’s many individual storytelling and thematic elements which help make this genre’s great films truly special.

AUTHENTICITY This genre has such a universal connection because its stories echo our lives in a far closer fashion than so many others. Of course, not every film in the genre is authentic and grounded, but there are many which reflect the real world in extremely strong ways. The film that comes to mind in terms of realism is one of the most innovative of the genre—Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. It chronicles the life of Mason Evans Jr. over the span of ten years. Linklater shot a portion of the film every year from 2002 to 2013. It’s truly epic in scope, yet it covers common elements of childhood—both big and small—from young flirtation, bullying, experimenting with drugs, life ambition and even something as minor as growing your hair out. It all feels so authentic in the best possible way. The term ‘slice of life’ is often thrown around in cinema speak and this is a perfect example of such.



GIANT PERSONAL STAKES When pitching Booksmart, director Olivia Wilde’s mantra to all the cast and crew was that high school is war. You’re fighting for your place. Everything feels like the biggest moment of your life. Every life choice feels vital. It’s what gives teen coming-of-age cinema such vitality. You don’t have to have gigantic action spectacle to feel the world weighing down on our characters. Superbad and Booksmart both have very similar premises. You have two characters wanting to get to a party before they leave each other at the end of their final school year—and a crazy night of hijinks ensues. Getting to a party isn’t exactly something out of the Mission: Impossible series, but it feels like it because you can sense their friendships are riding on it. Every scenario feels like life or death. And when you’re in high school and fighting for your place amongst the social hierarchy, both films exemplify the classic ‘it’s us against the world’ mentality in fantastic ways.

THE JOURNEYS OF SELF-DISCOVERY So much of this genre revolves around the question of ‘who am I?’. So much of a person’s youth is

about discovering what defines oneself and this genre can explore this idea in many different ways. Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture winner Moonlight heavily revolves around this idea. As we follow the life of Chiron over three time periods—a child, teenager and adult—he is constantly met with the question of who he is as a person. Chiron lives in a low-income household, has a cocaine-addicted mother and is discovering his own sexuality. The whole film is an identity quest for Chiron. He must scrape by while constantly having his livelihood and identity questioned. It’s definitely not the most uplifting film in the genre, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful and introspective.

RELATABILITY Coming-of-age films often live and die by their protagonists. If you look at so many modern films in the genre, their protagonist is what helps the film find its universal connection. Often the best coming-of-age protagonists reflect us. Bo Burnham’s 2018 film Eighth Grade is pitch-perfect in the way it captures pre-teen life. Kayla Day is an eighth-grade student who was voted ‘most quiet’ by her cohort—which really says all you need to know about her. It captures the flawless and realistic cringe-worthy

interactions between people in her age group. The whole film is an exploration of anxiety for a young person. Whether it be seeing a boy you like, talking to peers far more popular than you, or in the film’s most stomach-churning and sinister scene, getting pressured to act in a sexual manner by an older student, it’s really honest at capturing the varying worries of pre-teen life. However, not all coming-of-age protagonists have to be overly-grounded. Take Ferris Bueller in John Hughes’ 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He’s charming, goofy and ultra-likable. Despite how heightened it is, there’s still a sense of authenticity and relatability present. It’s pure wish-fulfilment, yet you can’t help but connect with Ferris.

NOSTALGIA This genre is one which arguably delves the most into the concept of nostalgia. A coming-of-age film will often be influenced by the director and writer’s youth. Director John Carney brought in elements from his childhood to one of the best modern films of this genre—and the perfect watch if you’re feeling down—Sing Street. Set in 1980s Ireland, Cosmo sets out to form a band to impress an older girl and hopefully get her to star in his band’s

music video. It’s filled with iconic ‘80s songs from the likes of The Cure and Duran Duran, and it’s simply a brilliant story of a person finding his voice and confidence through musical expression, along with being a great tale of brotherly connection. It’s a celebration of what music can do to you as a person, and its nostalgic overtones give it a beautiful sweetness which really encompasses the incredibly wholesome experience of watching Cosmo grow as a musician and an individual. These are only tiny morsels of thematic and storytelling ideas which can help shape a great coming-of-age film, that’s why the genre is still thriving today. The coming-of-age genre is a framework for empathy. That’s what makes it timeless. It doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation or class. It can show how young queer people can fight the emotional pain of being questioned about their sexual identity, like in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. It can follow a teenager having his first ever truly romantic fling, as seen in Call Me by Your Name. It’s about connecting with people who are often discovering themselves, and we as viewers get to see their evolution. So, if you’re wondering what to watch one day, do a deep dive into some coming-of-age cinema; its films may just connect with you more than you ever thought possible.



I’m going to make a bold assumption and assume you listen to music.





















































































Whether it’s a sweet jazzy tune or some expressive metal, studies are seeing an increase in music consumption, especially via streaming services in the youth demographic.











Words// Kenith Png Design// Sarah McKay

D a y - t o - d a y, m u s i c c a n t o b e a h e a l t h y consumption habit to make life a bit more bearable. An avenue for connection with emotions and the world. On the other hand, there was an extremely—I cannot stress this enough—rare case, where a Swedish man reportedly received disability benefits for his “addiction to heavy metal” in 2007. All this got me thinking: could our constant access to music ever become a problem? It’s no coincidence that the rise of streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify have occurred in a similar time to our increase in music listening. The Nielsen Music 360 study in the US found people have been listening to music more than ever before; music consumption jumped from a 23.5-hour weekly average to 32.1 hours between 2015 and 2017. Speaking to students at Curtin about the time they spend listening to music, I received a range of responses spanning one and a half hours, to ten, to “pretty much every hour of the day”. Dr Laura Glitsos is a media academic at Curtin University, with music as one of her work’s main focuses. She said that while we still listen to music in traditional ways, developments in technology have meant that our access to music has changed in the past ten to fifteen

years, resulting in more diverse ways of music listening.“Most people just access music from their phone, streaming services from their phone. A lot of people still use more traditional formats— CD and vinyl—but just on the go, people are accessing things in these really convenient ways.” Dr Glitsos said convergence—the coming together of social, technological, textual or industrial platforms—has driven new accessible and affordable ways to listen to music. Smartphones (43.5 per cent), laptops (36.6 per cent) and TV (23 per cent) were the top three most popular music listening devices, according to the Nielsen Music 360 study from 2017, and Spotify’s May 2019 statistics showed 217 million active users, with 44 per cent of them listening daily. I spoke to uni student Lily, whose Spotify report said she listened to 161 days of music last year, up from 150 days’ worth the previous year. That’s almost 11 hours a day. “I love it. Recently just started a music Instagram. I always listen to music. I’m always forcing people to listen to music and I’m at the point where I can’t sleep without music,” she said.



BUT W HAT DO P SYCHO LO G I STS SAY? In 2013, the Diagnostic of Statistical and Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), known as the ‘bible of psychiatry’, added ‘behavioural addiction’ as a new entry. Dr Kaine Grigg is a clinical and forensic psychologist who has worked in drug withdrawal units and prison systems and now works predominantly in mental health. Elaborating on the DSM-5, he said addiction was defined by three key criteria—impairment in functioning, developing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, an inability to meet expectations of social or occupational norms due to a substance or activity are a tell-tale sign of addiction. He said traditional substance addiction occurs when the consumption of a substance causes the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, mainly dopamine.

“You engage in behaviour x, whether that’s using substances or gaming or perhaps listening to a song, you get a dopamine hit and then that causes the reinforcement that makes you more likely to engage in that behaviour,” he said. He explained the repeated intake of a substance then reinforces a neurological pathway, to a point where the brain needs those similar levels of those feel-good chemicals to function. “Then you engage in that behaviour again, the dopamine hits again and then it starts to become stronger and stronger, and then eventually, you actually need to have that behaviour or engage in that drug or whatever it is to actually have your kind of standard levels of dopamine or serotonin or anything else.” Behavioural addiction is a similar neurological process to traditional substance addiction. However, instead of the substance being the stimulus, it’s a behaviour. Dr Grigg said behavioural addiction was a greyer area that could theoretically apply to music, but music consumption was unlikely to meet the full criteria of addiction because those major addictive traits weren’t met. Christian Hetebry, who is also a clinical psychologist, echoed this view. “Theoretically, I guess, it is possible to have an addiction to music, but practically in 15 years of experience

I’ve never seen [it], and I can’t even imagine the circumstances by which it could exist.” It was actually Mr Hetebry who brought up the aforementioned case of “addicted” Swedish metalhead Roger Tullgren. He referred to it as an “extraordinarily rare” case, linked to his difficulty in performing at work the day after a metal gig. He added that health professionals were scrupulous as to which specific diagnostic criteria he would meet, regarding it as probably the only documented case of music addiction. Dr Grigg hadn’t heard of it and didn’t think music consumption was an issue in society. Another important point Dr Grigg brought up was that on the larger scale, we should be prioritising discussions about helping people who are struggling, rather than pathologizing normal behaviours. So, can we get hooked on music until it negatively impacts our lives? It seems unlikely. In the vein of positivity for music shared by the people I talked to for this article, I’ll leave you with a note from Dr Glitsos. “I think music has this power capacity to save people, make them connected and make them feel less isolated. You don’t have to be alone with negative thoughts. You can change that mood at will by listening to something that helps you connect with the world rather than reject it.”


few years ago, anti-abortion groups around the United States see the presence of President Trump and Justice Brett Kavanaugh as an opportunity to challenge Roe v. Wade. In 1973, in the case of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court Decision ruled that a person’s constitutional right to privacy extended to decisions about whether to terminate a pregnancy—essentially declaring that laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional.

Safe access to abortion is a human right Words// Amber Weir Design// Sally Henderson

Trigger/Content Warning: Discussion of abortion, mention of rape, sexual assault, incest. NB: This piece recognises that those who seek abortion and reproductive health services are not always women, and include transgender men and nonbinary people. In May this year, the Governor of Alabama signed an anti-abortion law which, if enacted, would only allow abortions under two circumstances: the life of the pregnant person is at risk, or the foetus won’t survive. In the case of rape or incest, however, abortion is not permitted. Since the beginning of the year, states such as: Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Missouri have all pursued “heartbeat” bills; which seek to ban abortion as soon as a foetal heartbeat has been detected by a physician. The rise of these bills is an indication of where the abortion debate is today. While these measures would have been seen as too extreme a

Since the election of Trump, who promised to overturn the 46-year-old decision, groups opposing abortion have been backing more restrictive laws. The reproductive rights of women and the transgender community continue to be debated today, but the recent resurgence in the abortion debate—which has seen the powerful elite make laws about what pregnant people can do with their own bodies—has caused protest around the globe, including here in Australia.

ABORT ION LAW IN AUST RALIA In June this year, hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney in response to the abortion bans in the US. The march was organised by seventeen-year-old Bella Ziade in an effort to highlight the fact that abortion was still (at the time) criminalised in NSW. “Everyone deserves to have autonomy over their own body,” she posted in the event. “Laws restricting or banning abortion are not pro-life […] they’re anti-choice.” Whether abortion is legal or not depends on where you are, as abortion laws are made by state and territory governments. The Australian Capital Territory is the

only state that has completely removed abortion from criminal law—it just needs to be provided by a medical professional at an approved facility. In Victoria, Queensland, , Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and (just recently) New South Wales, abortion is legal, however, there are timerestrictions on when the abortion can be performed; ranging from a fourteen-week cut-off date in NT, to a twenty-four-week cut-off in Victoria. Here in Western Australia, abortion is legal to 20 weeks, after which access to these services are heavily restricted. The legality of abortions performed after these cut-off dates are unclear. In South Australia, “unlawful abortion” is a crime. Those who undertake an abortion, doctors and anyone who assists, can face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Exceptions are only made if two doctors agree that the pregnant person’s physical or mental health is in serious danger.






A N AUST RA L IA N P E RS P ECTI V E For many Australians, abortion is not an uncommon experience. According to research published by the Australia New Zealand Journal of Public Health in February this year, around one in six have had an abortion by their mid-30s. Looking at 9,000 women born between 1973–78, they conducted a number of surveys; the first at ages 18–23 years, with the fifth and last being at ages 31–36 years. Overall, by their mid-30s, 16 per cent of the women in this study had reported at least one abortion. And yet, despite the regular occurrence of abortion within society, it is still stigmatised and used as a political tool by the right.

to perpetuate the stigma surrounding abortion and, in doing so, justifies continued government oversight and intervention. But the same research mentioned above showed that folks from all walks of life have terminated a pregnancy, with parents who have already had children more likely to have an abortion than those who haven’t. Individuals seeking an abortion do so in the context of their own lives, and while it’s unlikely to be an easy decision, it should most definitely be a private and autonomous one.

When the bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW passed the lower house earlier this year, Greens MP Jenny Leong asked members to consider “whether it is acceptable, [and] whether it is conscionable, that in making [a] major life decision, women and their doctors have to do so with the threat of being charged with a criminal offence.” Research from the Australia New Zealand Journal of Public Health found that women with lower levels of control over their reproductive health, whether through family violence, drug use or ineffective contraception, are more likely than their peers to terminate a pregnancy. They are also more likely to be disproportionately disadvantaged if they are unable to do so safely.

There is no reason, under any circumstances, that an individual’s access to abortion should be restricted. In doing so, not only do you jeopardise that person’s bodily integrity, but you also put their health at risk. The World Health Organization estimates that around 25 million unsafe abortions take place every year, almost all of them in developing countries, with 32 per cent of them carried out in the least- safe or dangerous conditions. Each year between 4.7 to 13.2 per cent of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion, yet almost everyone of those deaths could have been prevented through health and sex education, use and access to effective contraception, provision of safe, legal induced abortion and timely care for complications.

A study by Anne O’Rourke on ‘The discourse of abortion law debate in Australia’ argues that the language used by politicians that oppose abortion reform serves only



taken lightly, but even if the choice was easy, it would still the choice of one person. To borrow the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to [an individual’s] life, well-being and dignity. It is a decision [that person] must make for [themselves]. When Government controls that decision … [that person] is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for [their] own choices.”

While most individuals who are seeking an abortion are able to access those services, remaining laws can and have created psychological and geographical barriers. These archaic laws—which, in effect, are used to govern bodies—reinforce the absurd notion that an individual needs to legitimise their own abortion, and removes the person’s right to make their own choices, with or without a given reason. Blocking access to abortion doesn’t stop them from occurring, in fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that restricting access to abortions does not change the percentage of abortion procedures at all. Blocking access only serves to reduce safe access, often increasing the risk of injury and death from poorly performed and self-inflicted abortions by individuals with no other way to exercise their reproductive rights. Unsafe abortion remains one of the most extreme contributors to the alarming rates of maternal mortality in low-middle income countries; it is a critical public

health issue. If we want to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies and abortion in Australia, we need to empower people to have control over their fertility and support them with appropriate health and education services.

Having an abortion is not just a decision, it is a right, and it is absurd and appalling that any individual, especially one who will never be in a position to make that choice, feels entitled to do so for others. It’s not just that “men should not be making laws about women’s bodies”, but rather that, as a society, we should not be making laws about bodies at all.

In a piece about abortion access in The Guardian, Jessica Valenti proposes that abortion legislation assumes that women can’t be trusted to make ‘good’ decisions about their bodies and families. And when the overwhelming majority of those who do not support the decriminalisation of abortion tends to be white cis able-bodied men, it’s hard to think otherwise. Abortion is a subject that society rarely wants to talk about. Despite being absolutely crucial to the health of women and other individuals around the world, it is stigmatised—most often by religious groups and conservative politicians—and ignored by the majority. Making the choice to have an abortion is a deeply personal and private decision; it is no circumstances




Words// Belicia Tjendera Desgin// Jonathan Park

For Grok’s final print issue this year, I interviewed my friend, Caroline Wong, about the issues that Australian-born but overseas-raised Asians face when they return back ‘home’. Caroline and I are both Australian-born, Singapore-raised, Chinese-Asians (talk about confusing, right?). We also moved when we were 16. Unlike others who moved in at a younger age, we had already done most of our growing. Settling into both adulthood and a foreign culture at the same time, parts of us were bound to change. It’s hard to make sense of it all alone, which’s why I pulled her into this conversation. B: First off, thanks so much for being so willing to share a bit on your thoughts and taking part in this Asian rep movement. It’s so cool to live in a time where these thoughts are heard and appreciated by the people around us. I think a lot of us normally feel like we’re not allowed to talk about these more negative experiences because if we do then we’re ‘ungrateful’ and ‘complaining’. But as Australian citizens I think we’re more than entitled to take these issues by the reigns and say what we think because this is our home too.



B: But before we begin delving into this, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? C: I grew up in Singapore then moved to Perth when I was 16, which I think is part of a tough age group to move at, because you’re dealing with adapting to adulthood on top of adapting to a new environment. Right after moving came the furnishing of the house, practical preparations for school and I guess this period of busyness that kept me from grappling with thoughts about identity or what this transition symbolised on a deeper level and, honestly, I think I was too young to even think about such things. B: And so now that you are older and you have already thought through it, what do you make of it? C: I think generally when people travel or move out of their home countries, they begin to realise that the world is much larger than they thought it was, and so perspectives shift as knowledge and experiences expand. And for me, my perspectives grew as I observed how the Australian society functioned, which made me aware and able to start thinking about my role in it, and just exploring bigger questions and delving into bigger topics in general. In all honesty this could be equally attributed to my own coming of age as it could to my transition between countries. But I guess most of life is too complex to analyse in a segregated manner. B: You’re so right. It’s been a few years now; would you say that you’re confident in your place as an Asian-Australian? C: On some days I am. When I wake up and go for coffee or brunch with my friends, or when I help other Asian tourists with directions, or when I go down to Bunnings to get more soil for my plants, and even as I read about voting on the AEC website. But other days I don’t, when I have no idea who to support for AFL, or when I sit out from events because I can’t swim, or when I hear others raving about vegemite.

I would love to say I do, but I don’t actually think I can yet. Perhaps this will grow with time, just as I have incorporated and grown to love other innately Australian activities into my lifestyle with time. But I can confidently say that Australia has made me feel like I am on track to one day be confident in my identity as Asian-Australian, yet also allowed me to take my time with it, as I meander through the seasons of life and grapple with the issues that life brings my way. B: Yeah, for sure. I don’t feel quite Australian either. It’s been close to 4 years now but I still feel like an imposter when I say I am. But like you said, it takes time. One thing I definitely struggle with though is reclaiming my identity. Moving here I felt like I lost part of who I was. Back home, I was friendly, bold and sometimes even fierce. But when I came here I just became so shy, and I was so soft-spoken. Walking into classrooms I just felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. It was uncomfortable. Obviously over time I got used to it. But I wouldn’t say I’m as comfortable as I was. Has the way you seen yourself changed? C: Not so much, I don’t think. Since youth I think I was raised to be pretty sure of my identity and I don’t think the move has had much impact on that. But, on the other hand, the fact that it didn’t change the way I saw myself would concern me at times. I think I was slightly unsure if the whole transitory process would be complete is the way I saw myself in terms of identity had not changed.

To understand profoundly, intuitively, or by empathy.

Grok Magazine is Curtin University’s studentrun media outlet. The writers, editors and designers of our six departments (Student Life; Politics and Current Affairs; Music; Science and Technology; Art and Film; Economics and Business) cover the good, the bad and the ugly—delivering a variety of content to keep you informed. We publish regularly through our website and produce a glossy print edition each semester, which you can pick up at Guild outlets and across campus. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram. If you’re interested in contributing to Grok as a writer, editor or designer, or if you have a scoop you want us to cover, hit up the editors at

B: Nah, screw that. Even though we’re both in the same boat, no two experiences are ever the same, and there isn’t a handbook or guideline for how these things should go. You were confident and secure in yourself coming in, own that! Thanks so much for opening up and joining in on this conversation! C: Anytime!



Gen X and the baby boomers won’t stop going

Millennials have technology at our fingertips

on about how millennials are obsessed with

and the world in our hands. But maybe we’re

technology and avocado toast (put your

a generation that’s happier to sometimes

hands up if you’re sick of hearing that). If

bypass all of that technology for a little bit

we take a closer look, however, we would be

of nostalgia in our lives?

better described as being deeply obsessed

e h t r o f s k n a Th ories m e M

In the lives of millennials, nostalgia has

it or not, we spend much of our time in a

manifested itself in the way we listen to music

dream-like state wondering what our lives

and the way we take pictures. Gone are the

would’ve been like in previous decades.

days when everyone argued over whether the iPhone or Samsung had the best camera (it’s

Students groan about how university was

definitely the iPhone, don’t fight me on this).

free two generations ago and young adults

Now, it’s all about whether or not your photos

are sorely aware of the barriers they face to

have a grainy, unfocused look to them. And

buy a house compared to their parents. Even

no one wants the ability to pick the particular

older-music-loving millennials would die to

song they want to listen to!

be in a nightclub at the height of the '80s.



with nostalgia. Whether we millennials realise

Nostalgia has not only scratched the surface of popular culture, but crash landed


Nostalgia has not only scratched the surface

We’ve gone back to the decades of putting on

of popular culture, but crash landed on its

a record and having no choice but to listen

landing pad. As Disney continues with their

to it from beginning to end (I mean it’s most

live-action remakes of old classics—starting

likely a Drake album but nonetheless).

with Aladdin earlier this year and The Lion

Words// Emma Ruben Design// Willow Springate

King right on its tail—Stranger Things is

If you’re interested in immersing yourself

filled to the brim with 1980s nostalgia (you

in nostalgia, I’ve compiled a short list of

can tell because all the characters are using

nostalgic music and film objects that have

phones attached to a wall and not made by

risen from the dead for that you can take

Apple). You could also argue that Pokemon

advantage of:

Go’s success was built upon our nostalgia of old Nintendo 64 and DS games.


Polaroid Cameras

The Walkman

Polaroid cameras became big once again in the early 2010s and are the

In comparison to record players the Walkman is a less popular way of

real pioneers of millennial nostalgia. There’s something about taking

listening to music, but I’d bet my whole Instagram account that by the

a photo and not having any idea how it’ll turn out, that appealed to

end of 2020 they’ll be back in their full nostalgic swing. Personally, I

every 16 year old. Despite advances in modern photography, flashing

just can’t wait until everyone starts making cringey mixtapes for their

your grainy-looking Polaroid photo to all of your friends was a high

significant others. In the present day, however, you could probably

school must. If you were not one of the girls with a Polaroid camera

catch someone listening to a Walkman in the heart of Fremantle (the

at your sweet 16 then were you even cool? And if you wanted to be

hippy capital of WA of course). If this sounds like your jam, you can try

even cooler, you’d chuck up a sneaky Instagram post of your newest

eBay or your local op-shop. However, if you’re really, really desperate,

Polaroid snap (guilty!).

maybe try robbing a millennial in Freo (just kidding).

Record Players

Disposable Cameras

Record players have become all the rage once again. First developed

If you can’t be bothered buying a 35mm camera, buying a disposable

as the phonograph, this invention was then renamed the record

one is probably the next best option. A popular option in the '90s and

player in the 1940s. The vinyl-playing machine now attracts Tumblr

early 2000s, the disposable camera was useful for taking a bunch of

girls and pretentious Indie boys (the kind who wear their jeans so

pictures before getting the film developed; the camera always inevitably

rolled up so everyone can see their white socks). If you’re a big fan of

broke apart (hence the name). Twenty years ago it was incredibly

Lana Del Ray, you should probably go out and buy yourself a record

frustrating to have your film developed and find your pictures either

player. And thanks to capitalism you can do just that, with different

blurry or overexposed, but in 2019 those pesky problems would be

types of record players and vinyls available both online and in shops

perceived as edgy and soulful. If you’re planning a European holiday

like JB Hi-fi.

without a disposable camera, well, you have no chance of achieving peak nostalgic millennial.

35mm Cameras Are 35mm the new Polaroid cameras? First developed in 1913, before completely dominating the film market by the 1960s, the 35mm has made its way back into popular culture (i.e. everyone’s Instagram feed). If you’re looking to get your hands on one there is a whole selection on eBay—prices vary depending on the model. But be warned, this is an expensive habit: the cost of buying film and developing the pictures could set you back a bit. But anything for the gram right?

Nostalgia in the 21st century is inescapable: it’s an entity that surrounds us and envelops us in all facets of life—film, fashion and music. As millennials we can’t help but reminisce by using objects to help us relate back to the past. Despite having full access to smartphone cameras, I’m a real sucker for a disposable one. Does it matter that I have no idea how my photo will turn out until after? No way. It’s the feeling of anticipation, of having my photos developed, that incites a feeling of excitement that no smartphone camera could ever give me.


Trigger/Content Warning: Mentions of transphobic and homophobic violence, assault, language and mentions of alcoholism and drug abuse.

Q U E E R S PAC ES AND Q U E E R SAF E T Y: T H E C H AN G IN G C U LT U RE OF G AY BARS The names of queer bars mentioned by interview respondents have been redacted and substituted with [LGBT bar] or other where appropriate. The first and only time I have been in a gay bar, I spent three-quarters of it (about an hour) in the bathroom, in a toilet cubicle, hiding a panic attack. At the time, this was due to having shown up in a skirt and not yet understanding what gender dysphoria was. It was the women’s bathroom, a place I’d take another year to understand I didn’t belong. Gay bars are supposed to be places many queer folks feel like they belong. They are meant to be sanctuaries, places of camp acceptance and pride, celebration, escape. One famous example, the Stonewall Inn, was credited with the incitement of queer activism, particularly in response to homophobic violence at the fault of the police. Gay bars can host pivotal moments in a queer person’s life, as the one I visited did for me.

Words// Max Vos Desgin// Lola Baldsing

However, despite their intended role, the culture of gay bars has been changing a lot recently, and it’s not exactly positive. Queer people should have somewhere they can feel safe and included. Transgender people are still being murdered, at increasingly high rates, and poor trans women of colour are most at-risk; queer people are still being brutally beaten in public spaces; the government’s proposed religious freedom amendments have the potential to infringe on the (already few) rights the LGBTQIA+ community in Australia have scraped up. Queer people are more at risk for mental health issues. Homophobia and transphobia are alive and unwell, institutionally and on the streets. We need physical spaces of community celebration. There have to be rest stops.



CHANGING CLIENTELE, FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH After conducting anonymous interviews with members of the queer community, many in the LGBTQIA+ community are noticing more cisgender and straight people coming to queer clubs. The interviewees all attended different clubs and bars, queer or not, from once a month to a few times a week. All of them identified as members of the queer community, some submitted their answers anonymously, and 90 per cent of the respondents agreed that they had seen a rise in cisgender heterosexual people attending queer clubs. Some of the respondents said they have no other safe spaces. It’s important to note—as I did with the interviewees—that nobody can tell another person’s identity just by looking at them. For example, someone in an apparently straight relationship might identify as bisexual or pansexual, and someone who “looks cisgender” could be transgender (hence the scare quotes). However, a person’s behaviour or language can be a great indicator of how involved in and accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community they are. Queer people who attend queer clubs would be able to tell the difference between usual clientele

(predominantly queer people and allies) and new clientele who are ignorant of queer norms within these spaces. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with more cisgender heterosexual folks at gay bars. It means more money for an LGBTQIA+ business, (ideally) more familiarisation and less othering of the queer community and it should, in a perfect world, be a neutral subject. It should help people realise that being queer is normal. In practice, it’s resulted in queer spaces like gay bars being semi-gentrified by a community they were not created for, a community that has more than two main bars in the city to choose from where they can feel a sense of safety and belonging. Queer spaces were made by and for queer people, and were the frontlines of parades against the police and battles for rights for decades before 2019. These spaces are supposed to be safe, but going by the interviews, they’re not always that. The next few quotes are direct excerpts from these interviews.

“I was kissing my wife on the dancefloor and was physically separated by a cis-het man insisting we join him for group sex. After repeated requests he leave us alone and a heated argument, the man was removed from the venue by security staff. I have never felt unsafe or unwelcome in any queer space, despite this encounter.” – Emily, 26 “I’ve been called a variety of slurs (mostly d*ke, q*eer, and f*gg*t) by cis-het women I’ve unknowingly flirted with in [LGBT bar], been heckled by men who see wlw [woman-loving-woman] relationships as a porn show for their consumption, and been treated as a prop for women’s ‘scandalous’ drunken antics (‘oh my god can my friend get a snapchat of this?! I can’t believe i made out with a giiiirl!’)” – Suzy June, 22 “I've been aggressively misgendered at [LGBT bar] and experienced my first instance of transphobic violence at [LGBT bar] where I was cornered and aggressively interrogated a b o u t m y g e n d e r a n d p r e s e n t a t i o n .” – Bridge, 24

“It got harder to go to places like [LGBT bar] and [LGBT bar] because the harassment just escalated massively over time. I got scared to use the toilet there because strangers would grope me to 'figure out if I was a real man'. It was weird, because (early in my transition) I used to come into [LGBT bar] during the day sometimes purely to use the toilet somewhere I knew I wouldn't be harassed.” – Dylan, 23 “Every time I have been openly romantically involved with another woman in [LGBT bar], we have been ‘gawked’ at, approached and grossly commented on by (presumably) straight men who see female same-sex relationships as a spectacle that exists solely for their viewing pleasure.” – FS, 18 “During the most recent fringe festival, [LGBT bar] was a pretty awful place to be. It felt pretty much like going to a straight club— disdainful stares and insults if you look like a woman and aren't attractive and young.”~ – Anonymous, 21


I also asked the respondents why they thought the change had happened in the first place. One theory is that straight men follow the straight women there, who go to gay clubs in the first place to escape harassment. As Jesse Jones puts it in the Star Observer article ‘Dear Straight People: Stay Out of Our Gay Bars’: “When cis-het people decide they like a gay bar, it stops being much of a gay bar. […] Hen’s nights start being held there, as gaggles of drunk straight women start treating the place as their own personal zoo exhibit: See The Living Homos”. “Cis-het women have told me before that they visit queer clubs (particularly [LGBT bar] and [LGBT bar]) to escape the predatory men who flood ‘straight’ nightclubs, or as a change of pace or new experience. I’ve also frequently heard people say that they prefer the music played at queer clubs, they find the environment more accepting, or they just ‘want to see what gay clubs are like’.” – Suzy June, 22 Another theory is unicorn hunting; when straight couples seek out bisexual women explicitly for the purpose of having a threesome. A few of the respondents corroborated that this happens in Perth’s popular queer bars. Approaching strangers in a queer space and assuming that they will be interested in your relationship is disrespectful and ignores people’s boundaries. Stick to this easy rule: gay bars are not an appropriate place for you to look for your third.

T H E QU E E R CO M M U NI T Y ’ S R E LAT I O NS H I P W I T H D R U GS A ND A LCO H O L The queer community has historically struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. Unfortunately, the harm done by this kind of substance abuse to queer communities isn’t well-researched. In 2016, an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study showed that 41.7 per cent of gay or bisexual people said they recently used an illicit drug, compared with only 14.5 per cent of straight people. According to the same study, gay and bisexual people are more likely to use tobacco, illicit drugs and drink alcohol at dangerous levels. Some of the interviewees disagreed that the predominant queer spaces being alcohol-dominant were an issue, instead saying that it helps people come out of their shell, and others saying that they choose not to drink despite the location. These accounts of queer clubs are valid and for some it is that easy. For others, not so much. “I started drinking when I started seeking out community and that just escalated until it got completely out of control. When [LGBT bars] became unsafe, I didn't stop drinking; I just started doing it in isolation. When queer culture is centred around drinking, it becomes normal to get drunk all the time. It took me far longer than it should have to realise I had a problem because I thought I was just doing what queer people are supposed to do in order to make friends and build community.” – Dylan, 23

Having the predominant (if not the only) queer spaces available simultaneously promote alcohol (and potentially, indirectly, drug) consumption could potentially make the problem worse. “Any space influenced by inebriated people will become less safe. You can find in a disproportionate way, queer people do experience more hardships including mental health, financial stability and wellbeing. So alcohol can also affect any person to a limit who is already experiencing health and safety personal circumstances.” – Chris Hall, 21 The relationship between queer people and our fewand-far-between spaces is complicated. They are places of pride and celebration, but they can also be loud and abrasive, overwhelming and stressful. Just like the legendary lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby (of Nannette) asks:




ARE T HESE PR O B L EMS O P P ORT UNIT IES IN DI S GUISE? With an understanding that you can’t really tell people where to go and what to do, and an understanding that the world around us will always be changing, perhaps a better way to take care of our community is to make more space for ourselves. This could actually be a golden opportunity for queer spaces that don’t serve alcohol, which are safer for minors, queer people who can’t access clubs, and queer people who just don’t like the clubbing scene. We could be dividing our community between those who enjoy and can handle the clubs and those who need something different. “Queer teenagers and under-18s need somewhere to be with likeminded people, and to safely ask questions and receive support, and when the only environments available are restricted to over-18s (and predominantly sex-focused, like nightclubs), it can be hard to find a support network or make queer friends.” – Suzy June, 22 “I would love any sober space for queer people to congregate regularly. A café would be perfect. Somewhere quiet enough that people can actually have conversations without having to scream over music. Somewhere where I can go where I can spend time around queer people without feeling unsafe.” – Dylan, 23

Can you picture the warm tranquility of a queer cafe, with flower pots in the window and the golden sunrise blooming through the steam rising from the coffee machine? Maybe it’s part-bakery, with fresh pastries every day, the rich smell of warm, soft bread, and vegan options of course. Maybe it’s spliced instead with a bookshop, with plush couches and cute recycled coffee tables—a-la the Moon in Northbridge. It might be part-gift shop, with every flag under the sun reproduced as pins and patches, and T-shirts with the best gay puns hung on the walls. Maybe it’s a discreet clothing shop, where transgender people can buy binders, packers, breast forms, or just where gender-affirming clothes are sold without gendered sections, and a board hangs on the wall for easy size conversions. Maybe we can have all of these things.


“Queer cafe's would be amazing. Sometimes I want to be in a safe [space] with friends where we can gush about crushes or discuss queer topics without loud music and alcohol being involved. Even better: a queer bookshop cafe. – Q, 18 The needs of the queer community are as diverse an array as the colours in the rainbow (that should be unsurprising). It’s undeniable that queer people need a place to party, to celebrate, to dance together to loud music and to forget themselves on a Saturday night. But we also need places of respite, places to talk to our friends under quiet cafe indie acoustics. We need places to come down and not have to shout to be heard.

There are only two full-time queer-marketed clubs in Perth. Both were approached for an interview, and either declined or did not reply. An extended version of this article is published at



I TRIED A MENSTRUAL CUP, AND I’M NEVER GOING BACK. Words// Cait Strutt Design// Isaac Jay Curran Heaps of young people experience this moment when lightning strikes between your eyes, and sometimes between your hips that signals… the red tsunami (dun dun dun!). And it happens just about anywhere. From the shops, a ten-hour shift or even worse, during a hook-up. Then comes the mad scramble for back-ups and strays, and when that fails? Sigh, another soul-baring conversation of asking a complete stranger (AKA your hookup’s mother) to be your saviour. Or you could always MacGyver two sheets of toilet paper and hold on to that roll in blind faith that this will hopefully last until you get your hands on an actual menstrual hygiene product. Alas, I come bearing good news! I can confirm that since using a menstrual cup these moments of terror are few and far between. One of my favourite features of the menstrual cup is that it can be worn in the week before and after your period with no danger to your body. No dry fibres absorbed, no painful tampon removals or wasted pads, no surprise leakages. Just as close to period bliss as you can get. It’s hard to ignore the comfort a menstrual cup brings to an otherwise inconvenient situation. Heck, that’s why it’s such an up-andcoming period product right now. Interestingly, menstrual cups have actually been around for quite some time and go way back to the 1930s. According to Mellisa Kang from The Conversation, the reason for the sudden boom in sales is because the public’s needs have changed. People are no longer just concerned about convenience, now it’s shifted to waste management. One menstrual cup has a life span of up to ten years, (given that the user normally

uses four tampons a day for a five-day period) that makes up for 12,000 tampons or pads that go to landfill. Not to mention 12,000 wrappers and applicators that will be left between 400– 1,000 years in our oceans and landfills before they start to decompose. After a menstrual cup has been used in entirety, there are many environmentally-friendly ways to dispose of it. Most cups are made of medical grade silicon, which is basically sand, so it won’t be polluting the ecosystem for centuries to come. OrganiCup states that most are safe to be burned with little carbon dioxide released and little danger to those exposed to the smoke. They work well as planters in the garden and can be buried to break down, providing much needed minerals to the soil. Alternatively, Ruby Cup recommends finding a sex shop or hospital and asking if they recycle medical grade silicone in their processes. They will sterilise and reuse the product, extending its eco-friendly life. Not to mention, buying one cup can save you a lot of money! Being a student’s already expensive enough, let alone the monthly period products expense. Buying a singular menstrual cup for $30-$50, can save you up to $80 a year. This may not sound like much but $80 is also 16 coffees. And $80 a year, for the full 10-year lifespan, is a sweet $800. It also helps that most cup brands, such as BioMe or Tulip Cup, markets cup sizes to every individual’s stage in life—teen, virgin, pre-birth, post-birth, and so on. Menstrual cups also have very low association with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a disease legally advised about in each tampon box.

There’s a myth that menstrual cups are dirtier or less hygienic than pads or tampons but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Menstrual cups don’t absorb the vaginal discharge that naturally cleanses your downstairs, which means you’re less likely to contract vaginosis and, as you might already know, that ain’t fun. Thrush, UTIs and bladder infections are less likely to occur when the blood is retained within the body, as compared to when there is a bacteria bed such as a pad or tampon string. Along with the monthly savings that accrue over time, I like to think about the possible doctor’s bills I won’t have to pay. All in all, good vaginal health is better for the wallet.

and outlines the inside of your intimate area. This keeps your surroundings clean while you both enjoy yourselves. Even though both are made of silicone, it is safe to use condoms and menstrual cups, as the friction points are not parallel which lessens the likelihood of ripping. Though it is placed inside similar to a diaphragm and a Nuva ring, a menstrual cup is no contraceptive and sits lower in the vagina, so please maintain the use of your regular contraceptive methods as you can get pregnant on your period. I recommend investing in a disk sold by companies such as Lunette or Intimina as they are reputable brands with an understanding and compassion for vaginal anatomy.

Remember that hook-up from before? You’ll never have to worry about that situation ever again. Menstrual cups are totally sex-friendly! Though obviously tell your partner that’s the case and what the situation is before they get too confused about your silicone insides. Cups also come in different shapes to accommodate to your intimate situations. Apart from the more popular tulip-shape, cups also come in a flexible disc shape that sit on the top of the pubic bone

Menstrual cups are awesome, as they are an ecologically-friendly option for menstrual hygiene, as well as good for the wallet. It definitely takes some time getting used to, but hey, if 73 per cent of new users can get the hang of it, so can you. All new products take some adjusting, but once you get over that hurdle, it’s unlikely you’ll ever go back.


PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF RISK From French farmers to nervous fliers, why don’t people trust nuclear?

What’s riskier? A nuclear reactor or a coal-fired power plant? In terms of numbers of affected people and longterm environmental damage it’s probably the latter. So why are there so many coal-fired power stations and so few nuclear reactors?

Words// Adam Smith Design// Scott Higginbotham

People respond to and assess risk very differently; it may not surprise you that this can make up a person’s entire career. The people most heavily involved in determining and deciding what is and isn’t a reasonable risk are financiers.





You may have heard of a hedge fund, a large pool of money operating on the stock market to generate more money; an intangible thing, almost alive. At its core however, a hedge fund is concerned with risk, the endpoint of “hedging one’s bets”. The stock market is by its very nature risky, with most transactions requiring a winner and loser. The simple way around this is to bet on both outcomes. Much of this involves “futures markets” risk, because with all of our grasp on quantum physics, we still can’t predict the future.

So, companies, and by extension the people who run them, are risk-averse. Why then do people leap out of planes trusting that a rectangle of fabric will halt their fall? Why do people speed on poorly-lit roads? Why do people want to go to Sydney’s King’s Cross, ever?

Futures markets aim to alleviate this problem. Originally, they were pre-harvest contracts between French farmers and traders keen to lock in a price for produce early; this benefitted farmers, as it meant they had money to spend on the farm and prepare for the next harvest. They also benefitted merchants, who were then able to avoid price fluctuations when the harvest occurred. But obviously, there is a trade-off; merchants benefit when the price of produce is higher at harvest, while farmers benefit if it’s lower. However, there is a way of mitigating this risk: hedging. From this humble beginning, futures markets have developed to cover all manner of goods, even when a resource isn’t future-traded, businesses find ways to buy futures. A great example is aeroplane fuel. Aero-grade kerosene isn’t sold on any futures markets, so airlines buy heating oil instead, if the price of kerosene rises, so too should the heating oil and by selling the oil the airline can mitigate any increased fuel costs. If the price of fuel doesn’t rise, they can still sell the oil and buy fuel with the money. They have literally hedged their bets.

Clearly, people are willing to accept a level of risk depending on the benefit they gain, and this willingness is different between people and even between similarly-risky activities. Flying in a rocket to space is one of the most dangerous things a person can do, yet thousands would want to; conversely the chances the average Australian has of dying in a car crash is substantially higher than in a plane crash yet, on the whole, people are substantially more scared of flying than driving. So why don’t we all perceive risk the same way? Psychology seeks answers to just those questions, biology and genetics clearly play a role, but societies and cultures too. Whilst angel investing—basically where wealthy individuals and groups throw money at start-ups in hopes they’re the next Google or Uber—and other highly-risky entrepreneurial activities are common in the US, the same can’t be said for the world’s next largest economies, Japan and China. In fact, this difference is such a concern that the Communist Party of China itself is aiming to kick-start a strong entrepreneurial attitude. What’s more, do other cultures and outlooks have a disadvantage to these risk-lovers, what with the well known, if not necessarily wellsupported, “greater risk brings greater reward” perspective?

HOW DOES RISK-PERCEPTION WORK? By examining risk and the ways people perceptions of it change, we can understand many behaviours. The psychometric paradigm developed by Fischoff et al. in 1978 sought to quantify the not-readily-quantifiable perceptions of risk. By doing so, differences in risk perception and the reasons behind those differences between technical experts and the lay-person become clearer. Basically, “risk experts” are far more likely to consider risk in terms of injuries and fatalities each year. The average person, however, is more likely to consider the possibility of catastrophe and impacting future generations; while they have an idea of fatality numbers, it’s not a priority in their reasoning. This scenario is how you end up with nuclear power being considered extremely dangerous by the population but not very dangerous according to experts. It could also be construed as the reason why the US Environmental Protection Agency prioritise cleaning up toxic waste over improving air and water in American homes; and while cleaning up waste is obviously important, poor housing situations affect a substantially larger number of people than mine tailings ponds. Lead paint, which is banned in many countries, is still widely available in America simply because the

population doesn’t see, or isn’t aware, that it is a threat. Conversely, experts consider driving to be one of the riskiest behaviours of all, but for most people, it is a fundamental feature of daily life. In his article ‘The Psychology of Risk’, Paul Slovic argues that several things can strongly shape people’s risk mitigation skills. Personal experience, how the world is portrayed by the media and the trustworthiness of loud organisations and individuals, all shape and affect what people consider risky. The public assesses risk on very different metrics compared to risk experts, with the public being far more future- and catastrophic-scenariofocussed. In the end, that’s just how it is, different perspective means different perception, and that means some risky behaviours remain common, and some non-risky behaviours are avoided. This of course impacts society; nuclear power is seen by many as a reliable and available solution to reduce high greenhouse emissions, and yet, it is also one of the least publicly-supported solutions. For humanity, risk is illogically and unequally perceived and considered; of course it is, we’re only human after all.




Chances are, it’s somewhere within reach. Prior to 1973, if you wanted to call someone, you had to be somewhere with an installed phone set. The first mobile phone prototype by Motorola employee Dr. Martin Cooper weighed 1.1 kilograms and was just a little smaller than a brick. The prototype offered a talk time of 30 minutes and took 10 hours to re-charge; it would be another ten years until it became available to the public. The release of the first hand-held mobile phone was the start of the technological movement that completely revolutionised human communication.

From 1983 to today, the word ‘phone’ and what we associate with it has dramatically changed. The clunky, heavy devices from the '80s and '90s can barely compare to the powerful devices that 20 million Australians can now slip in their pockets. We’ve gone far beyond the phone’s original use, now using our hand-held contraptions for shopping, banking, gaming, messaging, networking, photographing and navigating—the list goes on. We can do almost everything with our phones: but what could they do to us?

Words // Maria Cristina de Vicente Capua Design // Evelyn Swindale

GERMS Most people don’t think twice about using their phone at the table, on the train, in the bedroom and even in the bathroom. It shouldn’t be a surprise that our phones are covered in germs; we do touch them lot. In fact, a study by research company Dscout, found that the average person uses their phone about 2.5 hours a day, goes through 80—120 ‘phone sessions’ and touches their ‘active’ screen an average of 2’617 times a day. That’s about 109 touches for each hour of the day (if you never slept) where bacteria is transferring from your hand to your phone. Our hands harbour an estimated 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre. Now, bacteria aren’t all bad, but we often carry pathogenic bacteria, which is bacteria that can cause disease in humans as well as some plants and animals. Depending on what you’ve interacted with, what season it is, how strong your immune system is, etc. simply washing your hands is a solution to this. But when is the last time you washed your phone? Using a dirty phone, placing it on your face or even just touching it as you eat, aren’t the best of ideas. Identifying the exact number of bacteria that live on our phones is practically


impossible, but a recent study by the Romanian National Institute of Infectious Diseases found more than 17,000 bacterial gene copies on high school students’ phones. Similarly, scientists at the University of Arizona found that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. While most of the bacteria on your phone isn’t pathogenic or harmful to your health, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t concern you. A recent study by Tech Insider found that an incredibly disturbing number of germs live on our phones. They discovered that a serious pathogen on phones, including Streptococcus and MRSA (which can both lead to infections) and even E. coli. So how do we avoid infections and illnesses? Many people just wipe their phones with a soft microfiber cloth, which will remove most of the bacteria. However, for a deeper clean, it is recommended using a combination of 60 per cent water and 40 per cent rubbing alcohol. Mix the ingredients together and then dip a cloth in the solution before wiping it gently across your phone. But that’s not where the trouble ends.



BLUE LIGHT By now, you probably know that the blue light blasting out of your phone screen interferes with your sleep. What you may not know is that blue light affects much more than that. Scientists at the University of Granada in Spain have linked sleep disruptions, like the ones caused by your phone, to obesity and diabetes. This is because the disruptions prevent your body from producing ghrelin and leptin, hunger hormones that help to regulate your appetite during waking hours. On top of this, scientists at the University of Toledo have discovered that blue light also has the potential to lead to macular degeneration, which is the result of photoreceptor cell death in the retina. Dr. Mark Fromer, ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that “Blue light appears to damage retinal cells. It is still unclear how much blue light and for how long it’s necessary to damage these sight-seeing cells. We do know the damage is irreversible”

AT T ENT I ON SPANS AND ANX I ET Y How many times have you watched Netflix as you checked Instagram or Twitter? The constant process of digital multitasking has contributed to us being less focused in the long run.


A study from Microsoft showed that the average attention span of participants was only eight seconds—a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. This shortened attention span is a new development and is more pronounced in people who are “heavy multi-screeners.” In the year 2000, before the advent of smartphones, humans could pay attention to something for 12 seconds.

keeps you connected to your friends and family, your phone could be fostering social anxiety. For many, this anxiety may be the result of feeling the need to respond immediately to every text, email, or notification received. So, phones can be our gateway to illness, they can increase our anxiety and shorten our attention spans, interfere with our appetite and sleep. The question remains: are phones really worth all of this? While it is undeniable that they are incredibly useful tools, it is important to understand what our technology can do to us, and from time to time, switch off.

In addition to this, despite being the thing that



In an ideal world we’re allowed to use our phones with ease unrestricted, unmetered and unsupervised by nosy government organisations and shady hackers. To our surprise, a third contender has risen from below the stage and is shining their stage lights on phone users. Due to frustrations about phone usage at music gigs, musicians such as White Stripes front man Jack White and Alicia Keys are taking actions into their own hands by taking phones away from ours. Like troublesome children, concertgoers are now being faced with stern warnings, public shaming and having their phones placed in special pouches for the duration of the concert. It sounds like a cruel punishment considering our unhealthy attachments to our phone, but the reason behind these preventative actions is sincere. With the absence of phones, people will be able to experience a full, immersive concert experience. For some artists, it’s a no-brainer solution, however, for paying customers it’s a violation of their rights.


in close proximity, or in direct eyesight, panic ensues. And for good reason. Our phones are these wonderful, compact devices that keep our lives in order; it’s an alarm, a calculator, a weatherman, an on-the-go television, a gaming console, a map and so much more. Do I have my Nan’s number memorised? No, but my phone has. Not only that, but it’s a way to capture memories by taking photos and capturing videos an asset which has been utilised during concerts. Whether it’s a cheeky, albeit blurry, picture of an artist, or a video that’s the length of a feature film, we all know someone or are someone who has used their phone at a concert. We all know the adage: If it isn’t on Instagram, did it really happen? Taking a photo or a video and uploading it to social media is the simplest, most

Our phones are always within ten feet of us at any given time of the day. When they aren’t



undeniable way to prove that you were there. It allows you, the one of thousands of people, to have your own unique claim to the experience, even if the footage might be extremely blurry, difficult to decipher and everyone can hear your off-key voice singing along. Another primary reason concertgoers take photos or record footage is to remember the experience. The intentions are innocent, but for those trying to become immersed and enjoy the moment, having someone’s phone blocking their view can be annoying. And for an artist looking out at a crowd and seeing rectangle blocks looking back at them, it can seem disrespectful.


It’s impossible for a musician to control the crowds that gather around them, however, some have taken up the challenge. Queen Bey and Bruno Mars have each called out to their fans, demanding that they put their phones down. During a show in 2016, according to US weekly, Adele had told a fan to “stop filming me with a video camera because I’m really here in real life”. Ironically, the whole ordeal was filmed by another audience member and uploaded to social media. The late, great Prince, whom I warmly name the Prince of Purple, had placed signs at his shows known as “Purple Rules”. These rules prohibited photography, video recording and cell phones, dictating that those who don’t concede may be forced to leave. Bjork also has a strict phone ban at her shows, stating that it is “distracting to Bjork”. And at the extreme spectrum, Jack White, Alice Keys and The Lumineers have chosen to utilise the Yondr pouch. Their tagline is simple: “Yondr creates phone-free spaces”. Anywhere that you want to turn into a

phone-free zone, Yondr can accommodate you. Concerts, comedy gigs, schools and weddings can be easily transformed into a no-phone, faceto-face connection with no outside distraction event. And the process is simple: you place your phone in a case/pouch, the case will lock once you’re in the phone-free zone, and you can only use your phone if you leave the area and tap it on an unlocking base. It’s important to note that your phone will remain with you the whole time. Using this system, former White Stripe’s front man Jack White has hoped to create a “one hundred percent human experience”. A problem, however, arises when we considered the ugly aspects of this: i.e. the money-making process. The music industry’s income is heavily reliant on concert tours. This is the case for small artists as well as hugely successful Grammy-winning artists. For this reason, there’s an opportunity to utilise concert footage and backstage, exclusive content or interviews and monetise it. It’s an opportunity to sell something we paid for back to us but with a pinch of sprinkles on top to disguise it. There is also the possibility to use us in a marketing scheme. To compensate us for not taking photos during his show, Jack White told fans to share the photos of hired professional photographers. Photographers who are paid to make the artist look good, even if they need to do some tweaking in photoshop. What musicians seem to forget is their position in this whole ordeal. Their audiences are paying customers who are there to see them perform, but they don’t need to be there. Artists are catering to their fans; their fans are just there to eat it up. When a fan takes a photo, or a ridiculously

“MAYBE PHONES ARE A NUISANCE, BUT THEY’RE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CAPTURE ART—TO CAPTURE LIFE IN ALL ITS UNFLATTERING ANGLES” long video, it’s their way of interacting with an art performance. A special form of art that is interactive, energetic and alive. Life deserves to be captured, maintained, fawned over, sung along to, shown-off to friends and most importantly, experienced. Maybe phones are a nuisance, but they’re an opportunity to capture art—to capture life in all its unflattering angles. And although I condemn those who record the whole, or majority, of the show, for the sake of art, let there be phones.



I want to work in the media industry; I sit in classes full of women who will hopefully work in this industry one day too. What can we expect from the impact this movement will have in our workplaces? Will other women my age think about this, or do they take it for granted, believing it is now, somehow, a moot issue? The magnitude of sexual harassment and violence in Australia alone should be enough to warn young women, that this too could be you.


N AVIGAT IN G T H E WO RKP L AC E Words// Ayla Sapsworth-Collins Design// Eleanor Roberts Tr ig ger/Content Wa r n ing : D isc ussio n o f se xu a l a s s a u l t a n d h a ra s s m e n t, m e n t i on of ra p e

As the second-year anniversary of the #MeToo Movement approaches, it is interesting to reflect on what has changed and what is still to come from this movement. When the hashtag first emerged, gaining momentum at breakneck speed, I remember thinking that it wasn’t completely surprising. I was aware that sexual harassment was a prevalent issue; I knew of sexual harassment in the workplace, in the streets and in the home, so to me, it felt like a boiling pot finally spilling over. Two years later, as I prepare to finish university and move into the workforce, I find myself questioning what the #MeToo Movement has achieved. Will the workplace be different for me, my friends and my generation?

Looking at the #MeToo Movement within Australia, we have taken some strides and have made much-needed changes. The Australian Human Rights Commission stated complaints of sexual assault have increased by 13 per cent—proving that women are feeling more comfortable to speak out. Australia has been faced with high-profile cases and allegations of its own, resulting in (some) resignations. In New South Wales, the state opposition leader, Luke Foley, resigned after allegations claiming he groped a woman in a barn and actor Craig McLachlan stepped down from his role in the Rocky Horror Picture Show due to allegations from three women and will face a hearing for assault in November. The awareness that has resulted from this movement seems to have taken hold in Australia. However, pre-existing issues with our defamation laws have created a difficult place for the #MeToo Movement to really help women in Australia. Under American laws, if allegations are made, it is the responsibility of the accused to prove they are false, whereas Australian law states it is the responsibility of the person making the allegations to prove they are true. As a result, women are scared to come forward, fearing they won’t be believed. Consequently, we have seen less high-profile allegations in the media following the rise of the movement in Australia. When we see cases where an individual has spoken out about their experience, this trickles down to other women who are seeking to reach out. Whenever a prominent person is accused in the newspaper,

the number of women contacting services such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline increases. Geoffrey Rush, who was accused by The Daily Telegraph of inappropriate behaviour, has since won a defamation case against the news company’s accusations, which in turn questions the validity of the woman who voiced her experience in the first place. Defamation cases like this one create a toxic environment, making women fearful that they can’t prove their allegations and may be accused of lying. More recently, actor John Jarrat was found not guilty of a rape from 40 years ago. The question as to why someone would wait 40 years to come forward was raised by the defense and the woman told the jury she was scared she wouldn’t be believed. If the #MeToo Movement has proven anything, it is that the fear of not being believed is the greatest silencer. There are no statistics on whether the #MeToo Movement has had an impact on young women going into industries where rates of sexual harassment are higher; all I can say is that from my own experience, it is now something I have in the back of my mind. The movement has allowed me to have conversations with my friends and family—with men and women alike—about the issues impacting people in the workplace. The #MeToo Movement may have sparked some change but change can only really come if organisations and those within the legal system put measures in place to allow safe spaces for those wanting to speak out. For me the statistics can be scary, and combined with the overwhelming response from the #MeToo Movement, it can be daunting to willingly and passionately strive to enter the film and television industry. However, this movement is also encouraging for young women like myself, because with movements like this all over the world, we are heard loud and clear; our voices will no longer go into the vacuous void of silence.



How likely am I to be harassed or abused in the workplace? According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 1 in 3 Australian female workers have been sexually harassed. In the Information, Media and Telecommunications Industry, 81 per cent of workers have experienced workplace harassment in the past five years and in the Arts and Recreations Industry the figure is 49 per cent. These are the two highest rated industries for workplace sexual harassment. These statistics have increased since the last survey in 2012, where 1 in 5 people experienced harassment. With people aged between 18 and 29 being the most at-risk, these numbers are scarily high, particularly for someone looking to launch themselves into the workforce. So, does knowing all of this help us? What can young people do once they enter these industries? The consequences of voicing your experience to a superior are wide and varied and there is always a risk involved. You may worry about losing your job, not being believed or people gossiping about you. You may not even know what constitutes harassment and when to report it. When it comes to talking about the #MeToo Movement, people often discuss it as an abstract idea, but I want to talk about it in serious terms and try to help unveil a few helpful things for people in the real world.

How do you identify sexual harassment? It could be an inappropriate sexual joke that makes you feel uncomfortable or perhaps someone repeatedly stands a bit too close to you, maybe someone you work with stares at you uncomfortably. Sexual harassment is not the same to everyone and can be difficult for people to define. However, there are more concrete ways of identifying it. Sexual harassment can be defined as any of the following, and if you are ever in a situation where someone is: requesting sex or sexual favours, behaving in a way that makes you feel intimidated, humiliated or pressured, making sexual or suggestive jokes, touching you inappropriately, being physically intrusive or behaving in a manner violating your privacy, you have the right under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to seek help. The Act states that if an employer doesn’t take significant action after a reported incident then, along with the perpetrator, they too can be held responsible.

Other avenues of help If you experience sexual harassment It may seem like there isn’t a lot you can do to help yourself, but there are people out there to lend a hand. The first option is to get help from your company’s human resources department or a superior within the company. Every workplace has policies and procedures on how to handle sexual harassment, so you should make yourself familiar with them. Policies should be applied effectively through training and reinforced through communication to you and other employees, but if you’re not sure, perhaps see if you can find out what your organisation has put in place in regard to sexual harassment. Another option is to communicate with the person who is making you feel uncomfortable and tell them to stop, simply and clearly. However, if this feels too intimidating then you should of course seek other options.

If you don’t feel comfortable or cannot get sufficient assistance through the policies of your workplace, there are other ways to get help. In Western Australia we have the Equal Opportunity Commission, which allows people to lodge complaints for themselves or someone else experiencing sexual harassment. Although it may be difficult, it can be vital to tell as many people as possible if you have been sexually assaulted or harassed. It is terrible and unfair, but the validity of a person’s allegation may be called into question if they haven’t told anyone. Keeping documentation of the incident with the date, time and details is also important and can be used as evidence. There are other resources online allowing you to simply talk to someone confidentially. 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a counselling service allowing you to speak with someone twenty-four hours a day. Making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission through a form is another effective way of ensuring action is taken.




MOVING TOWARDS INTERSECTIONAL FE M I N I S M Words// Danica Spear Desgin// Winnie Foss

Feminism: the belief in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes.  While the first wave of feminism that began in the 19th century rose primarily to achieve legal equality in the United States, the meaning and purpose of feminism has changed dramatically since then. In most countries, women now have the right to vote, own property and attend university, however, not everyone has benefitted equally in these triumphs; certain individuals are unable to share in these wins, excluded on the basis of gender, sexuality, race and disability.

History of Feminism Beginning in 1848, the feminist movement made strides for equality when three hundred men and women protested for equality at the first women’s rights convention in New York. This began the feminist movement that would eventually see women obtain the right to vote in the US, nearly a century later. In 1851, Sojourner Truth, a former slave turned women’s rights activist, delivered her famous speech in Ohio, with the message “Ain’t I a Woman?”, speaking about discrimination against black women specifically. Truth began an ongoing discussion concerning privileges that only certain groups of people received. Up until relatively recently, feminism has been portrayed by the masses as ‘all inclusive,’ however,

change has seldom been fought for when we look deeper into the issue of inclusivity. Given that feminism is for equality, shouldn’t everyone receive the same equal opportunity? The term ‘Intersectional Feminism’ has been around for decades, and yet it still a subject of misconceptions and confusion. Lawyer, scholar and social rights activist, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectional in 1989, paving the way for greater inclusivity in equality. Intersectional feminism focuses on women from all walks of life. It transcends labels and involves people who belong to more than one group, including women of colour like Sojourner Truth. It also recognises that women are not the only people with reproductive organs—there are infertile cis women, trans women, as well as trans fathers and non-binary parents that intersectional feminism acknowledges.

Why is Intersectional Feminism Important? Feminism is too complex of a movement to reduce to stereotypes that eliminate the progress we’ve made. Equally, to say that feminism is no longer necessary would neglect the current, and very real struggles of women who haven’t benefitted from equal rights movements as much as white, cis, able-bodied women. “White feminism”—a phenomenon referring to how white women’s experience are far more

privileged than that of women of colour and other minority groups—is deeply problematic, as it ignores the way women of colour endure sexism, as well as ignoring the benefits that white women receive as a result of partaking in a white supremacist patriarchy. Put simply, white feminism is regarded as anti-intersectional, because it excludes the voices of women who aren’t white, cisgender, and able-bodied. To create change we must first accept that there is a problem: throughout history, women of colour have been excluded from feminist movements, with white feminism framing the debate in terms of Western culture. Intersectional feminism calls for gender equality with a focus on those who are often left disadvantaged in their society.

Feminism and First Nations People Despite having varied experiences, making sure that all individuals are given the same level of freedom and opportunity is a foremost issue for equality.

As a nation, Australians must accept our part in the unjust treatment of Indigenous Australians: we cannot focus on international issues without recognising that Indigenous people are disproportionately at a disadvantage in our own backyard. To deny the role white Australia has played in creating the issues that our First Nations people face only reinforces the problem. “Racism is [something] that all women in the women’s movement must start to come to terms with. There is no doubt in my mind that racism is expressed by women in the movement. Its roots are many and they go deep.” – First Nations woman, Pat O’Shane. Issues that are important in the lens of mainstream feminism, may not be so within Aboriginal culture. Equality must not be thought of solely on the basis of gender, but also in terms of culture, decolonisation and race. In this sense, intersectional feminism seeks to speak about issues that are swept under the rug such as the imperialism of feminism.


“Racism is [something] that all women in the wo m e n’s m ove m e nt m u s t s t a r t to co m e to te r m s w i t h . T h e re i s n o d o u bt i n my m i n d t h at ra c i s m i s ex p re s s e d by wo m e n i n t h e m ove m e n t . I t s ro o t s are m a ny and they go d e e p .” – Pat O ’ S h an e, Fi r st Nat i ons woman. Different cultures and communities face different struggles, and pushing views of mainstream feminism is not the way to achieve equality. While western culture is currently challenging gender roles, these ideas may not be of the highest importance within other communities. An important part of feminism for our First Nations people is decolonisation and getting back to traditional culture. It is common in Aboriginal traditional culture for men and women to have different roles. Pushing our ideas of what gender roles should or shouldn’t be onto the Aboriginal community is seen as an extension of colonisation and imperialism. These different roles don’t necessarily mean that women are seen as lesser, and in a lot of communities these women have a sense of pride for the roles they play in their community. In a previous Grok interview (published in Athena, 2018) with Annie Nayina Milgin, a Nyikina elder from Jarlmadangah Community in the Kimberley, Annie spoke about their women-led social enterprise, Yiriman Women, where they create traditional medicine on country. She says that, “We separate out man and woman. We teach the young girls, and the men teach the young boys.” Yet this traditional cultural approach doesn’t diminish Aboriginal women’s sense of strength or self-worth. Jacqueline Shoveller, a Karajarri woman, says that participating in Yiriman has “made me feel stronger; that women can do things too. They say women are stronger than men.” Feminism is for the liberation of people and allowing them to choose a vocation for themselves;

to expect the Aboriginal community to challenge gender roles in the same way that white feminism does, isn’t instinctively everyone’s idea of freedom.

Feminism and Inclusivity In a culturally diverse country like Australia, there is an ever-growing importance for the acceptance of others, regardless of their race, gender or religion. Islamophobia is another issue that affects those right on our doorstep; it’s a prejudice that is a danger to the progress and labour of feminism. Allowing women to wear what they choose and respecting their religious beliefs is a primary issue when looking at the crossovers between islamophobia and sexism. A headscarf is no more of a danger to society than a Catholic habit, or tunic. Yet only one of these things is spoken about in the context hatred and fear. When we categorise issues as ‘those affecting women’ or ‘those affecting men’, not only do we diminish the struggles of individuals, but we also fail to recognise the struggles of Aboriginal women and those within the trans and non-binary community. Acknowledging that not all women have a uterus; not all women are unaffected by race; and that not all women are given equal opportunity, is imperative for society to move forward. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to feminism and equality. Regardless of gender, age, race or sexual orientation, we are all still human, and remembering this in a society of ongoing change, protest and acceptance is an essential consideration that we should all be making.


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Profile for Curtin Student Guild

Grok Issue#3 2019  

This is the third print edition of 2019 from Curtin Student's Guild's student-led publication, Grok Magazine. The feature article for this p...

Grok Issue#3 2019  

This is the third print edition of 2019 from Curtin Student's Guild's student-led publication, Grok Magazine. The feature article for this p...