FREE | ISSUE #2 - 2020 GEN Z: THE PROTEST GENERATION
contributors CHIEF EDITOR
HEAD OF DESIGN
Maria Cristina De Vicente Capua
SUBEDITORS Aneeta Bejoy Kenith Png Eliza McPhail Paige Spence Rhonda Chapman Talya Hammond
Franceska Alarkon Libby Dzialosz Maverick Stone Nina Dakin Oscar McKay Sally Henderson Sam Mead Willow Springate
COVER ARTIST CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Adilah Ahmad Caitlin Gava Caroline Sabater Eliza McPhail Ella Wakeman Isabelle Lewis Joshua Donovan Kenith Png Maria Cristina De Vicente Capua Olivia Di Iorio
Willow Springate LOGO Chris Leopardi
PUBLISHED BY Curtin Student Guild
CONTACT grokonline.com.au email@example.com facebook.com/grokmagazine
instagram.com/grokmagazine twitter.com/grokmagazine issuu.com/curtinguild
contents NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
FROM THE PREZ
GEN Z: THE PROTEST GENERATION
DIVERSIFYING CHILDREN'S BOOKS
SEPARATING THE ART FROM THE ARTIST
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH SMARTPHONES
BILLIONAIRES AND WHAT'S FAIR
HOW IS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGING OUR BRAIN?
THE EXTREME SPORT OF CHRONIC PROCRASTINATION
EXPECTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS
SELF CARE, FOR REAL
FATPHOBIA IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
HARASSMENT IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
from the editor
Welcome to the final issue of Grok for 2020! We have made it. Here we are, at the end of an incomparable, historical year. Few things are ever certain in life, no one could have expected that 2020 would turn out the way it did. While in WA we’ve taken the hit more lightly than in other places, many—if not all—have suffered. It is precisely this that can bring us hope. All too often, we are divided as a society. Different beliefs, age groups, political affiliations, experiences etc. creating chasms that are difficult to bridge. This issue talks of community, of coming together, helping one another and building toward a future. There have been, and will be, many changes to the way we access our education, work and social life. As editor, I have had the privilege to listen to multiple voices, my job being to provide a platform through which educated conversation can start. It is through avenues and platforms such as Grok that we can learn to listen to one another, approach topics (both great and small) that are important to us, and begin to change the society we live in.
Every change begins with a conversation and an idea, and if these ideas are not shared they cannot get anywhere. Living in such a revolutionary moment of history, and one in which we have permanent access to the option of sharing our ideas, experiences and knowledge with others, care and respect become essential—towards others, and towards ourselves. As this chaotic year comes to a close and the end of the semester rolls nearer, let’s strive to keep talking. Let’s strive to protect education. Let’s strive to care for others. Let’s strive to build our society through compassion and conversation. Stay safe!
Maria Cristina Chief Editor
To understand profoundly, intuitively, or by empathy.
Grok Magazine is Curtin University’s studentrun media outlet. The writers, editors and designers of our five departments (Student Life; Politics and Economics; Music; Science; Art and Film) 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 and Twitter. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
from the prez
Welcome to the newest edition of Grok 2020 and congratulations on reaching the end of the academic year! I hope that this semester saw a little more normality return to your lives, and that you’ve managed to engage in things that bring you joy. I’m sure we can all agree this year has been an absolute circus. We’ve lived through more historic moments and events this year than many would hope to live through in ten. But as much as some months felt like they dragged on forever, 2020 has flown by and we’re now staring down the barrel of 2021. Despite the many hurdles, the Curtin Student Guild has been very busy this year advocating for your best interests at Curtin and bringing you support and representation. That means making sure the university understands the issues with online learning, and pushing for the introduction of more academic concessions such as the opt-in ungraded pass, the reduction of late assessment penalties, and assessment self-certification. We’ve also explored new and exciting ways to engage with the broader student body, running more events and establishing more online communities than ever before. And as the year comes to a close, I am excited to welcome the new team of student representatives for 2021.
Activism, gender equity, the US elections, and social media are just some of the topics covered in this edition of Grok. Now more than ever these topics are on the minds of young people across Australia, particularly amongst the Curtin community. Grok has always been a strong reflection of the interests and concerns of the student body at Curtin and an amazing display of the calibre of creativity and talent in our community. The relationship between Grok and the Guild is incredibly important and I am proud to celebrate 51 years of both organisations working to improve the student experience. As we hurdle through exams and the summer break make sure you’re looking after your mental health and ensuring that you’re extending kindness to yourself. If you want to keep up with what your Guild will be doing over the break, follow us on our various social media platforms. While you’re at it, we’re always keen to hear your feedback on our activities over the year, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact. It has been my pleasure to be the President of the Curtin Student Guild in its 51st 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. Enjoy the 2nd 2020 edition of Grok, and I’ll catch ya around!
51st Guild President
THE POLITICS OF GEN Z
Words// Isabelle Lewis Design// Willow Springate Earlier this year, President Trump began his re-election campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma, stepping out from the wings of the stage to a crowd of 6,200—just under a third of the venue’s capacity of 19,000. Overflow entertainment outside the venue was quickly dismantled and pressing questions from the media regarding the lacklustre crowd size were ignored. The disappointment from the President was palpable and was extensively mocked online. Later, while addressing the press, re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, reported that the rally was a victim of sabotage through falsely inflated attendance numbers that blocked genuine Trump supporters from attending. The culprits? Thousands of TikTok users registering free tickets online and then not showing up.
This kind of large-scale digital sabotage is one of the hallmarks of Generation Z’s political activism. Apps like TikTok and Twitter have been ‘weaponised’ to subvert the traditional protest format, and to limit law enforcement and government attempts to curb movements such as Black Lives Matter and School Strike 4 Climate. The politicisation of social media is not a new phenomenon. As politics is a primary facet in our offline lives, it makes sense that this passion has been transferred to the digital space. Facebook’s relatively unchecked influence on the 2016 United States presidential election is well documented, and Twitter has been Trump’s avenue of choice for declarations and debates since his initial campaign. However, it was amidst the civil unrest which provided the background for the Black Lives Matter movement, that social media's capacity for protest was shown. Utilising hashtags, memes, “fancams” and the ever-changing nature of digital virality, young people are taking on established ideals of the political process and making their voices heard.
THE POLITICS OF GEN Z
During the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement inflammatory hashtags such as #Whitelivesmatter, #Bluelivesmatter and #Alllivesmatter grew in popularity, but were quickly shut down by tech-savvy members of Gen Z. The BBC reported that the hashtags were quickly spammed with memes, links to support the BLM protests and K-pop “fancams”—that is, stylised videos of K-pop idols set to catchy music. Similar spamming occurred when the Dallas Police Department sent out an open call for anonymous tip-offs of the identity of protestors to a dedicated app. The app was quickly spammed, and eventually shut down due to the capacity and frequency of irrelevant uploads from young people.
Aside from shutting down hashtags and apps, members of Gen Z have also found platforms such as TikTok and Twitter to be a site of support for political movements. The hashtag #Blacklivesmatter was viewed on TikTok over 4.9 billion times, according to Rachel Janfaza of CNN’s politics department. Users changed their profile pictures to show solidarity, and posted videos giving protestors tips for avoiding injury during demonstrations, as well as ways to protect their identities to avoid police detection. Twitter users gave locations of necessities such as food, water and disposable masks, and provided realtime updates on the location of law enforcement. It was on Twitter where the video of 75-year-old Baltimore resident Martin Gugino being pushed to the ground by uniformed police officers went viral. The ensuing online attention lead to the arrest of the responsible officers and fuelled the passion that motivated BLM supporters.
In Australia, the media’s attention was captured by school-aged children advocating for immediate and effective action from the government to combat climate change. The School Strike 4 Climate, initially lead by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, has taken roots in Australia as a powerful tool for young people to voice their concerns to a government who seems determined to ignore them. Speaking to the ABC in 2019, 18-year-old Shiann Broderick, who lost her home in Nymboida, NSW, due to bushfires, demanded that the government take action, saying: “I want climate action. This is a crisis. Act like it”.
Her voice was one of thousands heard through protests taking place across the country, where young people carried signs with sayings like: “You’re burning our future” and “Thoughts and prayers are not enough”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s condemnation of the protests was labelled “out of touch” by Greens MP Adam Bandt during question time. Speaking to The Guardian, spokesperson of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Laura Sykes, also decried Morrison’s criticism of the protests, adding that “When young people try to have a voice in politics, Scott Morrison is shutting them down”.
THE POLITICS OF GEN Z
It seems as though young people are fighting a losing battle on all fronts, including wealth inequality. According to a Grattan Institute report from August 2019, the Generational Bargain—an implicit contract between generations recognising their obligation to one another—is under threat, due to increasing levels of wealth inequality. Australia’s household wealth has grown steadily over the past 30 years, more than tripling from $2.8 trillion in 1990 to $10.3 trillion in 2018. However, this wealth remains largely in the hands of older Australians, who benefited most from the housing boom and growth in superannuation assets. Meanwhile, younger Australians have experienced almost no growth in real net wealth in the past decade. The end result is a generation of frustrated and desperate young people who feel burdened with unrealistic ideals of career and wealth management. ‘Gen Z-ers’ are left feeling that if they don’t speak up or take action to combat systemic societal issues no one else will.
Average household net worth by age of head of household $1,500,000
$1,000,000 AGE $750,000
There is no known link tying young people to more revolutionary political idealsâ€”so why is Gen Z making such a name for itself as a generation of subversive political activists? Members of Gen Z were born between 1996 and 2015. The turn of the millennium was an incredibly tumultuous time in global politics. Between the emerging threat of international terrorism, major economic events such as the Global Financial Crisis, and the ever-looming presence of climate change (not to mention the whole COVID-19 situation), Gen Z has a right to be politically frustrated. Compounding this stress is the fact that politically aware young people are connected 24/7 to breaking news, creating an all-consuming digital landscape that seems almost inescapable, except by penalty of ignorance.
THE POLITICS OF GEN Z
The methods of protest from the 20th century, where information was slowly disseminated through official media channels and often monitored forms of communication, have been thrown out by Gen Z in favour of rapid fire, 24/7 streams of information and content. But at what cost to the mental health of young people? In a Teen Vogue interview, Navajo activist and Yale student Kinsale Hueston, shares her political frustrations, adding that “I think it’s impossible for young people, especially young people who are from marginalized groups, to completely disconnect from politics”. The nature of the problems being faced by Gen Z are also time-sensitive, adding to the fear and frustration many young people are feeling with their governments. Hueston emphasises that “With climate justice especially, there’s a necessity to act right now because in 20 years, climate change and all of its implications will be irreversible”.
This is a crisis. Act like it.
There’s an ever-present desperation in the issues Gen Z are facing, and it seems that they are facing them completely alone. Young people feel as though they have been abandoned by older generations to deal with serious issues and unsustainable patterns of living which have become deeply entrenched in our modern lives. And while the older ‘Gen Z-ers’ are in their early twenties, the ‘newer’ members of the generation are still school aged. It seems impossible that such a young generation can shoulder the weight of being politically burdened with such grievous issues—no matter how tech savvy they are. So, what is there to do?
Older generations could start by listening to the voices of Gen Z and validating the concerns they hold. Listening without judgement is the first step in beginning a conversation about sharing the burden of fixing the major concerns young people have. Furthermore, young people must be invited to join official conversations about serious issues such as climate change, racism and wealth inequality. Alleviating the stress felt by young people as they face political challenges is only the short-term goal. The goal for the future must be to set in place sustainable, systemic changes to ensure that future generations no longer feel laden by the political challenges which fuel the subversive and modern protest techniques of young people today.
ART & FILM
WINDOWS A N D M I R R O R S: DIVERSIFY IN G CH I LD REN ’ S B O O K S Words// Maria Cristina de Vicente Capua Design// Oscar McKay It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love books. I find the power of words fascinating, the marvel of stories wonderful. But beyond books being incredible sources of enjoyment and amusement, they can shape the future by shaping the people who read them. In the words of Oscar Wilde: “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it”.
So, how do we find the right books to read, to shape our world? And, more importantly, who makes these decisions?
This is where publishers come in—organisations designed to disseminate culture, give a platform to those whose voice may have been quietened in society and, in simple terms, publish the best books they can find. The publishing of books is no easy feat, precisely because of the enormous impact they can have upon the reader. Generally speaking, there are two types of books: ‘Window Books’ and ‘Mirror Books’. ‘Window Books’ act as windows to the world and present the reader with a situation, culture or religion etc. that may be different to their own experience. On the other hand, ‘Mirror Books’ act as a reflection of one’s own culture, gender, race, religion, etc.
What often happens is that most books published are from a point of view that has often been overrepresented in society, with very few books presenting differing perspectives. In other words, we lack diversity in our books. This is true of all books, from board-books and picture books to Memoirs and Crime novels, but it is a particularly important consideration when it comes to books for children. Adults and young people tend to have their minds made up about the issues that are important to them, but children are still malleable, still impressionable.
ART & FILM
Dr Helen Adam, from ECU’s school of education, has uncovered a bleak reality while investigating the cultural diversity of books in the kindergarten rooms of four day-care centres in WA. The results?
Only 18 per cent of the books in the study contained any non-Caucasian characters.
As Dr Adam said, “Many children from ethnic minority groups are more likely to see a dinosaur or rabbit as a main character in a book rather than a member of their own culture”. On top of this, she explains that in the few instances that they did get some representation, it was usually as “secondary roles in the books, with the main characters being Caucasian”. Considering the increasingly multicultural and diverse society we live in, having an awareness of diversity and respect for others from a young age is indispensable. In Dr Adam’s words; “[reading books where children appreciate diversity] can help develop understanding, acceptance and appreciation of diversity”. Working in the fight to publish more diverse children’s books, is Freo-based, boutique independent publisher, RedPaperKite.
In a conversation I recently had with RedPaperKite’s founder and publisher, Sandra van Doorn, we discussed their efforts to keep diversity and multiculturalism at the forefront of their brand. Their first book, Hugo, follows a young boy with a rainbow mark on his journey to accepting himself. “Making space in a closed-minded market is very hard, our books are very niche… but we wanted to see different books on the shelves… If we can make something hard to market, but necessary for society, approachable, it’s the first step.” RedPaperKite publishes stories for children with diversity at their core, often featuring writers and illustrators from overseas. One of their wonderful, defining features is interactivity of their books. In another interview, Sandra explained “We share the illustrator’s process and add colouring pages into our books, so children can extend their story time into a creative time..."
"I used to do it as a child because I thought books weren’t pretty enough and got in a lot of trouble; now I’m giving them permission.” Sandra van Doorn’s profound passion for design and illustration inspired her to seek out a more European style of children’s books, with soft watercolour designs (often hand-painted and later scanned) and uncommonly sized books. This often presents problems in getting the books to readers as many distributors are afraid of stocking them for fear that they won’t sell. But they persevere, and with five beautiful titles since their first book was released in April of 2019, RedPaperKite hopes to be a positive influence on children. It’s companies like RedPaperKite that give me hope that our world is slowly becoming better. Publishing ‘non-mainstream’ books is a particularly risky business as you are never guaranteed a profit, but in Sandra van Doorn’s words:
“It’s worth the risk”.
ART & FILM
I love Harry Potter. While I didn't grow up reading the books, I did grow up watching the films, and have watched them countless times. I have also, since, read the books. The universe of Harry Potter is truly magical. The series deals with important issues and the characters are relatableâ€”I'm a proud Hufflepuff whose Patronus is a St Bernard. Earlier this year, J. K. Rowling took to social media to post a series of transphobic tweets. Criticising the use of trans-inclusive language, dangerously confusing sex with gender and spreading misinformation about medical transition, she cemented herself as a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist). As a member of the LGBTIQA+ community and a trans ally, I take serious issue with Rowling's comments. She has caused great harm to the trans community, many of whom were Harry Potter fans as the series explored what it's like to be different and provided an escape from the darkness of the real world. How can we, as fans, continue to consume the art we love, when the artist is revealed to be causing serious harm?
Words// Caitlin Gava Design// Maverick Stone
TRANS P H OBIA AND S E PA RAT I N G THE ART F R OM T H E A RT I ST The 'Death' of J. K. Rowling
If we separate the art from the artist, we can love and consume our favourite art no matter what the artist does. Can we really do that, though? Literary critic Roland Barthes would say not only can we, but we should. Barthes came up with the concept of 'The Death of the Author', which argues authors should be separated from their work so as not to limit the work and its interpretations. Following this notion, if we stopped consuming an artist's work due to their actions, we would limit the potential of said work. We would hinder the work's impact on culture and history. We would hinder the work's impact on us, whether that be making us happy, giving us knowledge or helping us through tough times. The work may positively explore issues such as race and gender. The work may have no obvious connection to the artist. It may not even be a reflection of the artist and their experiences, with some artists stating this. Barthes' concept aside, art does take on its own independence once it has been created and released into the world. Just as a child is their own person, and not merely a product of their parents, art can't be completely controlled by the artist. We can choose what we do with the art and how much influence we let the artist have over our relationship with it.
You may have a strong, personal connection to the art. This connection is significant, just as it is for the many trans people who feel that Harry Potter helped them through their childhoods. Ideally, the connection is sacred and can't be broken by the artist. In an open letter responding to Rowling's tweets, Daniel Radcliffe said, 'If you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your lifeâ€”then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion, nobody can touch that.' Most art is also the product of numerous people, not just the main artist. Daniel Radcliffe played an important part in creating the Harry Potter films, as did the other actors, directors, cinematographers, composers and costume designers, among many others. The books, too, wouldn't exist without the editors, designers, etc. If nothing else, the art may be consumed while acknowledging the artist's wrongdoings. You can still enjoy the art despite the artist's actions precisely because you acknowledge that what the artist has done is bad. Your enjoyment of the art is separate from those actions.
ART & FILM
Standing up against transphobia If you choose to ignore the artist's wrongdoings rather than acknowledge them, you're ignoring the related issue by extension. Usually, these are issues that shouldn't be ignored. They should be dealt with so that they don't continue to arise in the future, and so that the victims of the issue see justice. Similarly, if we ignore the artist's wrongdoings, we enable more artists to commit wrongdoings as they know their art will be consumed either way. Rowling's tweets should be addressed, as should any form of transphobia. Failing to do so only allows more instances of transphobia to take place, which is already a huge issue in society. Being ignored also subjects victims to further harm. Trans people, too, are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. In Rowling's case, she is one of the most famous authors in the world. This means that what she says has even greater impact.
Even if you don't agree with the artist's actions, continuing to consume their art supports them. Artists can be paid through not only sales of their art, but also the consumption of their art via platforms like Spotify and Netflix. Greater consumption of the art leads to increased exposure and opportunities for the artist. If artists continue to be supported after they commit wrongdoings, this suggests that their actions weren't serious. No matter how many arguments there are for separating the art from the artist, the nature of the artist's wrongdoings may outweigh them all. Transphobia should be inexcusable, yet J. K. Rowling may not face many consequences for her actions due to her celebrity status and the fact that transphobia is often dismissed. Doesn't that make it especially important to stop reading her books and take a stand?
Loving Harry Potter but not J. K. Rowling As frustrating as it may be, there is no clear answer as to whether or not we can separate the art from the artist. It ultimately comes down to personal opinion and the art and artist in question. I believe the art may be separated from the artist if it has a significant connection to you. However, as mentioned, you must acknowledge the artist's wrongdoings and be aware of the consequences of supporting their art. I still love Harry Potter. It holds a special place in my heart that I just can't erase. However, I will be vocal in my condemnation of Rowling's transphobia. I no longer admire her. She is separate from the series to me. While I associate her with discrimination, I associate Harry Potter with its wondrous universe, inspiring characters and significant themes.
POLITICS & ECONOMICS
Words// Olivia Di Iorio Design// Maverick Stone
As the number of smartphone users around the world today has surpassed 3.5 billion, a growing number of people can document their lives using a pocket-sized device. Although owning digital devices comes with certain dangers, this unprecedented accessibility is empowering people to develop their own voice. The smartphone is giving individuals and groups access to platforms where they can share their experiences and controversial opinions in a world which usually overlooks them. People’s voices online are amplified through the encouragement of strength and unity, or the amount of criticism received. Smartphones have allowed for cancel culture to thrive—defined by Vox as being “culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform or career” due to something said or done by a figure. It has allowed for the creation of a digitised court, where those with a smartphone can more readily engage with social media and become the judges and jury who dictate consequences. More specifically, the judges and the jury—viewers of such videos— have the potential and power to influence a career termination, damage social reputation and create an uprising.
In Australia, a video of a seventeen-year-old Indigenous boy being slammed to the ground by a New South Wales police officer circulated the nation. The group of Indigenous boys were in a verbal argument with the police, when one of the officers used his leg to take the seventeenyear-old’s legs out, slamming him into the brick pavement. The virality of the smartphone video caused outrage, leading to an investigation into the arrest and the officer being restricted in his duties. Yet, the NSW police commissioner simply stated the officer “had a bad day”. Programs are being rolled out around the country encouraging people to record police interactions to prove that perhaps inappropriate cop actions are more than just “a bad day”. Copwatch is a workshop in Perth that is teaching a predominantly Indigenous audience how to legally record police interactions while staying safe. The videos are used as evidence in court. Inspired by the video of George Floyd, and the following Black Lives Matter movement, this would also lead to police officers being interviewed about the particular incident filmed. However, the Copwatch program suggests thinking twice before posting to social media, encouraging consultation from a lawyer or community elder.
The individual who uses controversial public words and actions must beware. The new court has no rules, meaning that what is put out in the digital world cannot be dismissed. It can happen to anyone and create a beneficial impact or a detrimental one.
POLITICS & ECONOMICS
In 2017, Sudanese-Australian, Yassmin AbdelMagied posted “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)” on Anzac Day. Quickly deleted, her comment still made her a national outrage, calling herself Australia’s ‘most hated Muslim’. Death threats, videos of beheadings and rape filled her email and twitter mentions. Conservative senior politicians called for her career termination at the ABC and for her deportation. Sky News host, Paul Murray, said he mispronounced her name, but he said, “but who cares?”. Abdel-Magied was attacked online for months and even labelled “un-Australian” walking down the street.
Abdel-Magied was ‘cancelled’ and she moved from Melbourne to London. Her words caused an immense amount of backlash across Australia. But to what extent was the criticism fuelled by the fact that she’s a black Muslim woman? Abdel-Magied herself stated: “They’re only viral because I’m saying it. They’re only deemed unsayable because it is not supposed to be someone like me saying them.”
In January 2020, a Brisbane library held a drag queen story-time which was disrupted by a rightwing student group. The University of Queensland’s Liberal-National Club were caught on film, yelling “drag queens are not for kids”. The story-time was organised with Rainbow Families Queensland and hosted by two drag performers. Drag performer, Johnny Valkyrie, said the children were crying during the protest as the group made “vilifying comments against LGBTQIA+ people.” After the video circulated on the internet, president of the Liberal-National Club, Wilson Gavin, received copious amounts of backlash, leading to him being ‘cancelled’. LGBTQIA+ activists criticised his actions after leading such a protest, and his club was unendorsed by the Liberal Party. As the online generation, it is important to note that navigating the online world comes with ethical dilemmas. One day after the Liberal National Club’s protest against drag queen story-time, Wilson Gavin took his own life. His suicide has been reasoned by some due to the way social media users came after Gavin once the video was released. Whereas others talk about the high rates of suicide among LGBTQIA+ youth, as Gavin was openly gay.
However, the development of new technologies and platforms has allowed the smartphone to become a tool for global marginalised populations to record their experiences. Ultimately, the smartphone is empowering people to voice their opinions and share their experiences, whether that be about police brutality against Indigenous Australians, Islamophobia, or anti LGBTQIA+ acts. It is allowing the revelation of institutionalised and ingrained issues against society’s vulnerable groups. What needs to follow is a conversation and acknowledgement of the experiences discovered through this increasingly connected world. From there, society needs to progress and improve this experience.
As society aims to figure out how best to hold people accountable in an increasingly connected world, cancel culture reigns. We are yet to figure out how best to deal with online criticism. Although cancel culture is an option to hold people responsible, it may affect free speech, encourage bullying practices such as posts about Wilson Gavin, and silence opinions different from our own. The reaction and impact of sharing in the digital world differ for every situation. We’re the first generation to use this, and the ethics surrounding such posted videos will be ironed-out as time goes on and, unfortunately, people will suffer while the prominent cancel culture lasts.
POLITICS & ECONOMICS
BILL IONA IR ES A N D W H AT ' S FA I R Words// Caroline Sabater Design// Oscar McKay
Have you ever fantasised about what you would do if you won the lottery? Maybe, travel the world or give to charity? Or maybe you would blow it all on jewels, booze and parties? Whatever is in your wildest dreams, according to Lottoland in 2017, the chances of winning the jackpot lottery in Australia are 1 in 8, 145, 060. Those are some dismal odds. To put that in perspective, it is more likely for Kim K to become President of the United States, 1 in 501 to be exact. So, relying on winning the lottery may not be the right financial decision. You could invent the next great app and end up a billionaire! If only it were that simple... Billionaires are becoming more and more prominent with Jeff Bezos projected to be history’s first trillionaire in as little as six years. But, with such a colossal amount of wealth, is it trickling down to all classes of society? The short answer is no. As the wealthy become wealthier, the poor become poorer. I’m not about to deep dive into some economic debate about capitalism versus socialism, frankly I’d bore myself. I’m more interested in the ethical dilemmas of having so much wealth, that we, mere mortals, couldn’t even comprehend.
WH O' S GOT TH E D OUGH ? Let’s take a look at everyone’s favourite social media robot… I mean lizard… dammit, I meant tycoon. Mark Zuckerberg is fourth richest person in the world, with a net worth of $US 86.5 billion, coming in second is Bill Gates at $US 106.5 billion and flying first is Jeff Bezos at $US 146.9 billion. But what does this wealth really look like:
“If you saved $10,000 a day since the building of the pyramids in Egypt you would have one-fifth the average fortune of the 5 richest billionaires.”
POLITICS & ECONOMICS
P LAY HARD, WO RK LES S There is a lot of talk about numbers and the magnitude of wealth that these billionaires have, but what are the ethical ramifications. A good way to look at it is: how do these billionaires make their money A study conducted by Oxfam International in 2019 about the enormity of wealth, estimated that roughly one third of the wealth of these super rich comes from inheritance. The growth of money can just increase with clever accounting, coupled with low taxes. In contrast, labour workers must work longer hours, in harsher conditions, for very little pay. The ratio of hard work and good pay is skewed, with billionaires being payed more to do less work.
Now, you might be thinking that there are some billionaires who didn’t inherit their wealth and have worked hard to get where they are, and that is very true. However, working really hard or having ingenuity in order to become a multi-billionaire is not the rule to success, it’s the exception. Most people are dedicated, intelligent and educated but they’ll never become the next Bezos. It really comes down to opportunity—and a bit of luck. The richest people in the world tend to be white, male, straight, American men. This article is not an attack on the straight white man but an example of how inequality manifests—which also negates the argument that hard work and a good idea will make you billions, when that is merely correlation not causation.
The overworked, underpaid labour force contributing to the success of a handful of titans is an all too familiar narrative.
OH , T H E P H I LANTH R OPY ! Despite how they acquired their wealth, billionaires tend to be a generous bunch. Just this year, fifty of the richest people gave $US 1 billion to COVID-19 relief. However, these same people have a combined net worth of almost $US 1.6 trillion, which means they donated less than 0.1% of their wealth. Making large charitable donations becomes more of a power move rather than a purely altruistic action. According to Rob Reich, a political theorist, big philanthropy has the capability to have influence over public policy, which in turn undermines our democracy. More so, charitable foundations and the donations made are tax deductible and can be subsidised by the government, in the United States. So, in reality, the donations made are not much of a sacrifice when taking into account the overall wealth and tax benefits that comes with big philanthropy.
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with making money or having a lot of money. But the murky moral dilemmas come into play when an overwhelming amount of wealth is being obtained at the expense of people’s welfare. The overworked, underpaid labour force contributing to the success of a handful of titans is an all too familiar narrative. Billionaires do have a monopoly over our society, but this doesn’t have to be the case. I could go on and on about how governments need to step up their taxing-the-rich game, but I think notable trustbuster, nature activist (before it was cool), and 26th President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, said it best: “The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint-upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows.” August 31, 1910
How Is Social Media Changing Our Brain? Words// Adilah Ahmad Design// Sally Henderson At the start of 2020, more than 4.5 billion people were using the internet. This corresponds to nearly 60% of the world’s population being online. Many of those people use it daily and some even consider it fundamental. What began as a luxury is now considered a necessity most cannot imagine living without.
The results showed that people with larger social networks were more adept at forming memories and were more likely to remember names and faces than those with smaller online networks. A 2017 study also reported that events posted online were more likely to be recalled compared to those not posted online.
There is no argument that the internet has brought many benefits to us as individuals and perhaps even as a collective—its power to deliver information at the click of a button, its ability to connect people from opposite ends of the planet and its unlimited potential to provide us with entertainment 24/7. But its downsides are fairly evident too—increased anti-social behaviour and reduced attention span, to mention a couple. Although the long-term effects of our online habits may not be known for decades to come, here is how the internet and social media has changed our brains so far.
SOC IAL ME DIA IS AS ADDICTIVE AS A DRUG
ME M ORY A 2011 study revealed that the size of one’s online network can change areas of the brain associated with social perception and associative memory. The study involved performing an MRI scan on 125 healthy adults (mostly college students).
Researchers have compared behaviours associated with addiction (like cravings and withdrawal) and found heavy users of social media experienced these ‘addictive’ characteristics—meaning social media use can affect the brain’s reward pathways in a similar way to addictive drugs. This addictive quality can be observed with social media likes. Liking another user’s posts or having a post liked activates the brain’s reward centre. This triggers a chemical reaction similar to one caused by drugs, gambling and exercise, where dopamine is released, making you feel good. A cycle then begins, whereby these dopamine-triggering actions become a habit—the more likes, the greater the dopamine reward. Those people who say “it’s not about the likes” are only fooling themselves.
RE D U CE D AT T E N T I O N SPA N A ND FO C U S
EFFECT O N N ERVO US SYSTEM
If you’ve made it this far, give yourselves a pat on the back because our social media dependence has reduced our ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. Results from a study showed that heavy social media multitaskers performed worse when switching between tasks compared to light social media users. Suggesting that heavy social media users are easily distracted by the multiple streams of media they consume, fundamentally impacting information-processing and multitasking abilities.
Many people have experienced the sensation of their phone vibrating only to check and see that it wasn’t. That’s phantom vibration syndrome. Researchers have pinpointed this to the nervous system increasing in hypersensitivity, causing an individual’s body to react even when their phone isn’t vibrating. So, it’s not just the brain but the whole nervous system. Scary stuff.
H E R D M E NTA L I T Y
Trouble sleeping? A phone, tablet or computer might be to blame. These devices emit blue light, which could be keeping you awake at night. If your night-time routine involves a last check of social media before drifting off, you may be creating a vicious cycle of wakefulness. Experts recommend avoiding digital screens before bed.
Interestingly, studies have pointed to the fact that too much social media can activate herd mentality. This means we are slowly losing the ability to think for ourselves and instead go along with options that are most popular. Shocking!
DI SRUP T SLEEP
IM PACT O N M E NTA L HE A LT H Another study examined how social media use caused FOMO (fear of missing out). It used two groups of people: one group limited participants’ social media use to 30 minutes a day; the other had no time limit on their social media. After three weeks, the participants with the 30-minute social media time limit per day reported feeling less depressed and lonely compared to the other group. A second study found real life interactions led to more positive feelings than online interactions. This is due to the constant, and sometimes subconscious, comparisons with others online. People present the ‘best’ versions of themselves on social media, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
CONNECT I O N A N D S U P P O RT It’s important to acknowledge that social media can also influence us positively if used correctly. Interestingly, data from an American study has shown that routine social media use has a positive effect, but when emotional connections are made to social media use, negative effects occur. These associations are consistent across three healthrelated outcomes: positive mental health, selfrated health and social wellbeing. Researchers have found that social media use has extended beyond mere social engagement. It has the ability to support wellbeing by improving information and cognitive functioning.
In our lockdown period this year, the benefits of social media emerged to save our education and businesses and to support noble causes and charities. It has the ability to save lives (24/7 hotlines), develop critical thinking, act as a platform for change and amplify the voices of people. However, as young adults who are constantly glued to screens, presenting versions of ourselves online via multiple social media apps, it’s important to note the downsides this may have moving forward. Like many things in life, balance is key and social media is definitely no exception. The benefits of social media far outweigh its downsides, but a lot of this is dependent on individual use. The science is clear—moderation is crucial. As to what this may mean, I’ll leave that up to you to re-evaluate. If not, have no doubt we will turn into mindless zombies, unable to focus, sleep and engage with our real world. Live your reality. After all, we’d like Black Mirror to stay a Netflix show and not become our everyday life.
TH E E XT R E M E SP ORT O F C H R O NI C P R OC RAST IN ATI O N THE PSYCH OLO GY BE H I ND P R O C RASTIN ATIO N . Words// Maria Cristina De Vicente Capua Design// Sally Henderson
This article has been two years in the making. By that, I mean I thought about it, started researching and then procrastinated for two years. Most uni students are all too familiar with procrastination, and may, like me, often mumble under their breath something along the lines of ‘diamonds are made under pressure’, as a mildly consoling mantra. Following this logic, surely, avoiding work until the night before a deadline is bound to produce the most marvellous of results, right? (Apparently not.) As a chronic procrastinator, I am notorious for leaving things to the last minute and, then, finishing all the work at sub-human speeds. (The perfectionist in me will not allow a missed deadline.) I’ve got a system, and it works. Kind of. The days before work is due will often find me sleep deprived and jittery from excessive caffeine intake. ‘Normal’ people—or anti-procrastinators, as I call them—often gaze on, puzzled at why anybody would voluntarily submit themselves to the anxiety-inducing lifestyle of the procrastinator. To them, I say: we honestly don’t know.
I started to discover that the bigger the task, the more I procrastinated. For a time, it was almost fun—kind of like playing an extreme sport. You have a risk of injury, but also a burning curiosity to test your limits. That is until one day, about two years ago. It was a Friday night, and I had to submit a 5,000-word essay on the Sunday by 5pm. I hadn’t started it. Instead of doing the rational thing and writing, I read an entire trilogy (totalling about 900 pages). After I eventually handed it in at 4:57pm—following an intense 12 hours of non-stop writing—I lay on the floor staring at the ceiling and thought to myself: ‘There must be a reason. I cannot possibly be this stupid’. And so began my two-year quest to find out why we procrastinate. What is the secret psychology behind a procrastinator’s sheer inability to work towards a deadline? It turns out that, contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with time-management. Procrastination has been deemed by researchers the ‘quintessential breakdown of self-discipline’, for the simple fact that one knows what needs to be done but can’t bring oneself to do it.
I have always procrastinated but, as time went on, the severity of my procrastination started to worsen. What began as an innocent hour of avoiding homework after school rapidly snowballed into ‘how late can I start and still finish?’.
Before we dive into the complex world of procrastination, I thought I would define it just so we are all on the same page about what the self-destructive behaviour of scrolling through Wikipedia’s page on the history of pencil cases as opposed to working on assessments is. Procrastination, simply put, is avoiding your responsibilities. It is a voluntary delay in important tasks we intend to do, despite knowing we’ll suffer as a result.
A study conducted in 2000 by Tice and Ferrari concluded that procrastination is a routine selfsabotage, meaning procrastinators often try to undermine their own best efforts. This is because, as Ferrari says, ‘the chronic procrastinator would rather have other people thinking that they lack effort than lack ability’. ‘It has nothing to do with time-management, as I tell people, to tell a chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person to cheer up.’
"While these five little things may help ease the burden that is a procrastinator’s mind, the end-product is individual."
Many procrastinators often have a complicated relationship with motivation, impulsivity and selfdiscipline, which means there are multiple roots for procrastination to stem from, including:
Well, the simple answer is ‘trick your brain’. There are a few things one can do to navigate the sideeffects of having an unmotivated, avoidance-prone mind.
• • • • • • • •
A fear of failure Abstract and distant goals Perfectionism A lack of motivation A desire for pleasure or fun Task aversion Anxiety or depression ADHD
These can be summarised into two types of procrastination: 1. 2.
Avoiding work due to fear of ‘not being good enough’ Postponing work to do something more enjoyable
But the question remains: What does one do to manage the self-sabotaging chaos that is procrastination?
Find something that might motivate you to do the work. This will keep you going even when you get bored. 2. Set simple goals; ones that are specific and attainable. This will give you a sense of achievement and act as an incentive to continue. 3. Set deadlines for yourself. This tries to trick you into thinking you need to work earlier. 4. Create a daily schedule for yourself and factor in breaks. This will give you something to look forward to during those times of work. 5. If you still can’t concentrate, change your environment. This gets rid of any associations of fun with the environment that you may have had. While these five little things may help ease the burden that is a procrastinator’s mind, the endproduct is individual. The life of a procrastinator is riddled with anxiety and stress, and while, at times, it may seem that there is no solution, it can get better. This article did eventually get written, didn’t it?
EXP ECTATI ONS & REF LEC TIO NS Words// Joshua Donovan Design// Nina Dakin For many of us at university, 2020 signifies the end of our collegiate experiences, and the end of an era of studying. But for many more students, this year dictates a new and exciting beginning. Regardless of whether you’re a freshman or a graduate, all of us share the daunting task of exploring the unknown and taking vast steps forward into the future.
Many students would have made the jump from high school to tertiary education and will be adjusting to the independent learning environment. For others, we look forward to graduating this semester and trading lecture halls for office walls and late-night studying for deadlines. Whether you’re just beginning or graduating soon, I hope that hearing the experiences of fellow peers will help settle any jitters you have about the future.
I had the opportunity to interview some firstyear students and asked them what it feels like to be beginning this chapter of their journeys. Karyna Platanova is 22 years old, has just finished UniReady and is commencing her Bachelor’s degree in criminology, forensics and toxicology. Emily D is 19 years old and has begun her UniReady course with hopes towards studying a double degree. Ben Kiel is 20 years old and has started studying a Bachelor’s in accounting and finance.
Expec tation s I began by asking about the expectations these students had as first-years. Emily: “I am afraid uni will be something that I don’t want to actually do. That maybe I won’t make friends or network enough or that maybe I’ll waste my time.” Ben: “Working towards my career in the field of something I love to learn about is truly exhilarating for me. I can’t wait to try all the co-curricular activities that uni has to offer.” I am sure that hearing these expectations and fears are familiar for all students. It is common to feel tentative about starting university. Karyna: “I think support from my peers will be really valuable. It’s kind of a different sort of support though. Like if someone else struggles you don’t feel like you’re stupid for also struggling you know?” Emily: “It’s scary going into something that you’re not sure about. But I think that’s what makes it a bit exciting.” Ben: “Personally, I have always thought uni would be just be like school. However, the onus is on you to do all the work and move on from being baby-fed the information just like the teachers in school used to do.”
University is such a rare opportunity to make lifelong connections in an environment where you are surrounded with like-minded people who share the same interests as you. Karyna: “Apart from gaining knowledge, I am really at uni in the hopes that I will meet people and make some connections. I am excited to feel like I am doing something that is working towards my future.” Emily: “I think it will be good to get my independence. I feel university will make me a very different person by the end of it. I think this is a really positive thing.” Ben: “Uni will change my life dramatically for the better. I will meet new people, learn new experiences and try different things that I’ve never tried before.”
Reflec tions I also had the chance to interview a few graduating students and hear their reflections. Jasmyn Holt is 21 years old and finishing her honours year of psychology. Rachel McCabe is 21 years old and has completed a Bachelor’s degree in literary and cultural studies. I asked both students for some general reflections on the university experience. Rachel: “It gave me a really good space to be regularly seeing people and building connections. I think what I’ll miss most about uni is just the opportunity to learn in a space where that’s encouraged.” Jasmyn: “I’ll miss everything. From being able to catch up with friends, to being on campus and getting food. I realise now how important studying is in uni, funnily enough, and there’s actually nothing more satisfying than working hard and getting good grades.” Rachel: “University helped me realise that learning stuff and critically thinking and exploring different things is a really good way to stop the feeling of stagnation.” Jasmyn: “As you go through university, your goals will change, and you realise the avenues that studying can open for you. Always try new and scary things because this is the space for it.”
I had the first-year interviewees ask a few questions and both Jasmyn and Rachel were more than happy to lend their inputs. Ben: What’s the best way to balance social life, health and studying? Rachel: “Find little enjoyments in each of them. This will help you want to balance them out equally.” Emily: If you have regrets about not doing something, what held you back? Jasmyn: “I didn’t try as hard at first. It took me so long to realise how impressive it is to be proactive and to concentrate on my studies.” Karyna: What’s one tip that made your life easier at university? Jasmyn: “Making friends that will push you to work hard and balance your life is so helpful. Making connections at uni, especially ones that motivate you, is so pivotal for success”. Rachel: “Honestly, find a good place on campus to nap. Like, finding a space where you feel comfortable is important.
Some final words for our graduates: Uni has prepared us for the future and to venture out from the safety of our classrooms was always the ultimate endgame. Everything we have done over the past years has culminated in the skills we need to be successful—and, I believe, we’ve got this. Some final thoughts for our new students: Don’t waste your time here. It’s so precious. Remember that what you put out is what you’ll find you get back. Also, some advice: Angazi fries are amazing, the hammock hotel 2 is always quieter, come either 9 am – 10am or 1pm and later for parking, and go to level 5 in the architecture building for a toilet that’s usually empty. Good luck!
Words// Ella Wakeman Design// Libby Dzialosz
To say that this year has been pretty crazy would be an understatement. The structure and stability of the world as we know it has seemingly collapsed around us, leaving us all uncertain of what even the near-future holds. With so much of what has happened this year greatly affecting not only the state of the broader world, but our individual lives on a deeply personal level, it’s easy to see how many people’s wellbeing during this time has taken a hit. In an age as chaotic as this, when there are so many new factors causing stress in our lives, looking after oneself quickly becomes a lowpriority task. I’m sure we can all agree that this is not a particularly healthy nor sustainable way to live. In trying to show more care for ourselves, we often call to mind the typical life advice we hear all the time. It’s not uncommon to be told that eating more vegetables is the answer to our feelings of fatigue, developing a regulated sleep schedule will eradicate our persistent tiredness, and that mindfulness and meditation will cure our stress.
Of course, the positive reputations these behaviours have earned are completely warranted; these things can and do work… sometimes. We must remember, however, the reality that there is no singular, definitive answer to everyone’s selfcare needs. I cannot tell you the exact actions you need to take to look after yourself on a mental, physical and emotional level–only you can figure those out–but I can gently remind you of some important things to keep in mind when deciding on how to approach a revaluation of your personal care habits. You can use these general tips, then, if you’d like, as the foundation for building upon your own self-care process.
TA KE TI M E TO T EN D TO YOUR RE L ATI ONSH I PS
S P E A K OU T A B OU T YOU R ST R U GGL ES
Looking out for yourself gets easier when you have others looking out for you. Having a strong support network made up of people you trust will help reduce feelings of being overwhelmed, and aid you in bouncing back from those hardships that do manage to get the better of you. Building, and more importantly–maintaining–such durable relationships with others is no easy feat. It takes dedication, time and open communication, and it can also be a major balancing act, trying to ensure that all your relationships are prescribed the value they deserve. Those relationships that are resilient and can withstand the pressures of life–particularly friendships, a relationship we often undervalue–are incredibly precious. They don’t become that way automatically, though. They require work, work that is almost always worth it.
Although it’s certainly easier said than done, putting yourself out of your comfort zone momentarily to reach out to someone for help can have a tremendously positive impact on your wellbeing in the long run. Being able to vent about your frustrations, annoyances and anxieties can help you feel as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, but also provide an opportunity for the person or people you’re speaking with to open up as well. This could help you improve your own day, week or month, and of the people around you too. Do check in with your friends, family and others in your life before you drop too much emotional baggage on them, though. If you can ensure all parties involved are comfortable with having such a conversation at that time, you’ll be giving everyone the best chance possible to get something positive out of the experience.
SET REALI STIC EXPECTAT IO N S FOR YOU RS ELF
D ON ' T B E A FRA ID TO R E WA R D YOU R S E L F
In a time where expectations of individual performance and productivity can be so incredibly high, we are constantly encouraged to push ourselves to achieve more. Having the personal drive to put your best efforts into what you do can be a great quality to possess, but only as long as you can recognise and differentiate those moments in which you need to cut yourself some slack. Lowering your expectations of yourself is generally treated by our society as a sign of laziness and indifference. Prioritise putting yourself and your wellbeing first where possible when shaping your own expectations to fit the realities of your circumstances, as this can be the differentiator between a better mental headspace and ongoing struggle to excel. So, next time someone asks you to take on an extra task you just don’t have the capacity to complete at that time, say no. When you start working on a new project, be honest with yourself about what you can feasibly achieve with the resources you have. Challenge yourself when you can, and be honest with yourself when you can’t.
When doing something you love, the process itself can often be rewarding enough to make the action feel worthwhile. There are times though, for all of us, when the spark that motivates us to keep doing the things we care about can be temporarily lost. There are also times when we must complete tasks that we never wanted to do in the first place. In both these situations, providing yourself with an external motivation to keep you on track can help. An important thing to note here is that giving yourself a break from doing work is not in itself a reward. Allowing yourself a reasonable amount of sleep at night is not a reward either. These are necessities, and yet we often overlook them as if they need to be earned. Accept the things that you need in your life, and then reward yourself additionally when the time is right.
Self-care is a tool for managing stress, not a solution to it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, mental wellbeing support services are always available. If you are in distress, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
Words// Eliza McPhail Design// Franceska Alarkon
ADELE, WEIG HT LOSS AN D FAT PH OBIA DU RI NG A G LOBAL PAN DE M IC Back in May, 15-time Grammy Award winner Adele posted a photo of herself on Instagram. The photo promptly received more likes and comments than any other photo posted to her page before, or since, and was widely circulated on Twitter. The commentary surrounding the image was mostly praise—expressions of admiration for Adele’s body, which appeared to be much smaller than it once was. The public applauded a ‘revenge body’ and a ‘glow up’ that Adele never explicitly claimed or sought. While the interest in Adele’s body was temporary, the general investment in narratives about weight loss is ongoing, and pre-dates COVID-19. The phenomenon is symptomatic of a society that is obsessed with thinness and physical aesthetics.
It reflects a world where bodies are judged according to ever-changing standards of beauty, whether that be “heroin chic” or “slim thick”. It alludes to a culture that equates physicality with character, and believes that fat is greed, fat is failure, fat is laziness and immorality. The public reaction to Adele’s weight loss is a reminder that women’s bodies in particular are under constant observation and analysis. Whether the weight is lost or gained, it is always noted. Body size is at the centre of our most dazzling compliments and biting insults.
When it comes to celebrities, it is difficult for us to understand a talent, a personality, or a cultural contribution without also considering the value of the associated body. Many fans have found joy in Adele’s music, performances and celebrity persona, but it appears that even more have found joy in her weight loss. The question we have to ask ourselves is, why? Why is weight loss our ultimate fantasy, even when it isn’t our own? It is, after all, a constant and life-long aspiration for many of us; an empty promise we make to ourselves every year or every day. We go to the most extreme lengths to achieve it, knowing that even if we do, we will most likely gain back any weight that we’ve lost. We limit our experiences and opportunities, denying ourselves dates, swims, holidays and outfits, all until we achieve our goal weight. We look at a global pandemic and see an opportunity, a chance to hide away from the public eye and re-emerge smaller, slimmer and ‘sexier’—a success story for our friends and enemies to admire. Some believe that our obsession with weight loss is fuelled by a genuine and warranted concern for health. It’s a perspective that makes a certain amount of sense, considering that a healthy diet and exercise regime often corresponds with weight loss. Social media shows us, however, that the emphasis isn’t on health. We don’t circulate before and after images of medical certificates or cholesterol levels. Adele made no mention of improved health when she commemorated her birthday celebrations.
Even fellow musician Lizzo, who has on many occasions evidenced her impressive fitness levels, isn’t widely praised for her commitment to physical wellbeing. This is simply because it isn’t the lifestyle we care about; it’s the body—the size, the shape, the shrinkage.
"…it isn’t the lifestyle we care about; it’s the body —the size, the shape, the shrinkage." The pursuit of physical health is not fatphobic or dangerous, but the pursuit of thinness is. That isn’t to say that wanting to lose weight is immoral or foolish. On the contrary, it is often exactly what is needed to live an easier life in a culture that bullies and excludes fat people. But to understand weight loss as inherently positive, to assume that those around you want or need to lose weight, to subject yourself and others to constant weightbased criticisms—this is unhealthy. To blindly and reflexively praise weight loss and consequently condemn weight gain is dangerous. To justify the mistreatment of fat people on account of their fatness is inherently, and immeasurably, fatphobic.
The main criticism I hear of fat activism is that it encourages an unhealthy lifestyle. The argument understands fatness as harmful, and fat people as individuals that actively choose to live a life of disadvantage. It’s a critique that ignores the politics of choice—the way that a healthy lifestyle isn’t equally accessible to everyone. It conveniently sidesteps the classist and racist roots of fatphobia, and the way that it intersects with gender and disability. It’s an argument that claims to take a medical stand but refuses to acknowledge the way that bodies are influenced by genetics as well as lifestyle. It’s a wholly unsympathetic approach to the issue that sees the danger in fatness, but not the danger in our deeply entrenched and debilitating fear of it. Fat people are not evil, immoral or sad. It is possible and proven that fat people can have happy and fulfilling lives, despite how society degrades them. I don’t necessarily mean to alienate those that disagree—all of whom are victims of an incredibly pervasive ideology—but I do mean to question their conceptualisation of fatness.
If you disapprove of fat activism because it “glorifies obesity”, do you believe that fat people deserve lives of shame and self-hatred? Do you think they deserve social and professional rejection, medical neglect, spatial exclusion? Do you think that the sufficient punishment for being unhealthy—a condition that only exists for certain in your own imagination—is discrimination and marginalisation? If your answer to these questions is yes, then there’s only one more question left to answer. What would you rather be: fat and healthy, or thin and unhealthy? If your answer is the former, you have condemned yourself to a life of oppression—one that you sought to justify only moments ago. If your answer is the latter, your hatred of fat people has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with prejudice. Either way, I think it’s time we give fat people the respect they deserve, yeah?
if youâ€™re unsure of what to do in certain situations I am here for youâ€”to listen, to protect, to empower and to let you know that you are not alone.
Words// Kenith Png Design// Sam Mead
Don’ t Be That Gu Don’ t Be That Guy Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault. The music industry is a place where creatives from all walks of life get together to share in their love of artistic expression and skill while bringing a little light into the world. I’ve come to know a local music scene full of humility, joy and kindness—from the late nights at quirkily decorated music bars, to candid conversations with artists. A place where young local talents mingle, collaborate and find a way to share their experiences through performance. However, there are undoubtably issues within the industry. Sexual harassment allegations have recently been making waves in the social media feeds of the music world. The same stages, studios and rooms where wholesome hugs and handshakes are exchanged, are sometimes the same whose walls house more sinister instances of misconduct and harassment. It is with this background that the Australian music industry has launched its Collaborative Commitment, accompanied by the tagline ‘Don’t be that guy’. The initiative outlines a set of tools and guidelines available online which surround one-on-one collaborations. They seek to make interactions within the music profession safer and more respectful, in a bid to reduce instances of harassment.
A catalyst for the initiative took place in July this year. When many of us were stuck inside, glued to our screens, the Brisbane musician known as Jaguar Jonze used Instagram to post a series of allegations against a male photographer. Written on colourful post-it notes in neat handwriting, the content was dire. “It is sad that in my time in the industry, I’ve come across many predators who still abuse their place of power or profile and manipulate the trust people, especially young female musicians, have given to them,” Deena Lynch—whose stage name is Jaguar Jonze—expressed in the post. “In the last few days, I’ve been hearing so many stories about a particular male photographer who works in the industry. “When I was sexually assaulted last year by two producers, I felt alone, ashamed and didn’t know what to do, or where to go.
MUSIC “I am just writing this to say, that if you have been affected by a similar story and need a safe space to land in this sometimes terrifying industry— please reach out to me.” “Or if you’re unsure of what to do in certain situations I am here for you— to listen, to protect, to empower and to let you know that you are not alone.” In the weeks following her post on July 10, as many as 300 women reached out to Lynch, most of them coming forward with further allegations against the male photographer. The photographer, Jack Stafford, outed himself on Instagram and later posted a lengthy apology on Medium on July 13 under the username “@re._stacks”. In the post, he admitted to “abusing [ his] power” and “display[ ing] pure misogyny”, which included pressuring women into posting for semi-nude photos, sending pictures of his penis to multiple women, and making obscene comments. Speaking to Triple J Hack in August, about the initiative, Lynch reflected on the long way the industry and our wider society had to go in combatting harassment. She outlined a number of key issues that needed reform, including males calling out other males in the industry, males in positions of power leading cultural change, reducing toxic masculinity and more education around consent.
The messages by Lynch echoed recommendations by human rights groups and industry bodies. On the broader scale, The Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2018 national survey on sexual harassment in the workplace found 39 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the previous five years. A 2020 AHRC report also described Australia as behind other countries in sexual harassment prevention and response. Additionally, an investigation by the UK Musicians Union in 2019 found 48 per cent of those surveyed had experienced sexual harassment at their work. Of 725 people surveyed, 379 identified as female and 336 as male. One person I’ve spoken to about these issues is Perth manager and promoter Mia Hyde, who runs Plant Milk Music. Much of their work focuses on many events catered to marginalised artists, including genderqueer people and people of colour. “I think you have to learn what sexual harassment is to be able to pick it up and survive in the music industry,” Mia explained.
It was such a HUGE issue, such a MASSIVE MOUNTAIN to climb over.
“It goes from really smaller scale things that you have to know are an issue to pick up, to really major disgusting, traumatic, situations.” Mia recently came out as non-binary and described sexual harassment as a major issue. “It was such a huge issue, such a massive mountain to climb over. I think that came with a lot of issues to deal with sexual harassment, misogyny and inappropriate behaviour,” Mia said.
“It’s outstanding how many people I know. Every female or genderqueer person that I’ve ever met in the music industry has a story. I even know some males who have stories, but not many. The amount of people I’ve had to cut off relationships with because of situations when they’ve been behaving disgustingly is endless.” With all this in mind, time will only tell whether conditions for members of the music industry, especially women and genderqueer people, will improve. The initiative isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a step in the right direction. If this story raised any issues for you, support from Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14.