WORDLY FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
WORDLY The second edition for this year will be themed ‘Wild’, so write or draw something suitable and send it our way. Submissions due: Tuesday 14th July Submit your writing and/or artwork to email@example.com For information regarding word length, article ideas and artwork specifications head to our facebook page: www.facebook.com/WORDLYmagazine
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editors Andrew Roberts Ashby Hepworth Blair Duncan Bonnee Crawford Cassie Axon Claudia Sensi Contugi Jack Kirne Jessica Harvie Katherine Back Luke Peverelle Natalie Corrigan Sos Gill Theertha Muralidhar
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m All About That Bass
21st Century Opinion
Release the Fiction
Retro review: Showgirls
We All Need To Pee
Soldiers at the MCG
Free Will and Responsibility
A Scandal in Biphobia
design/layout Dan Watts cover art Ren Brownless
ÂŠ 2015 Deakin University Student Association Reg. No. A0040625Y All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
LUKE PEVERELLE CLAUDIA SENSI CONTUGI
CASSIE AXTON ANDREW ROBERTS
SOS GILL BLAIR DUNCAN
JACK KIRNE ASHBY HEPWORTH
JESSICA HARVIE KATHERINE BACK
welcome to wordly Freedom of Expression can mean different things to different people–mainly because no two people are alike. For me, it means grammar books and mustard, but what does it mean to you? With this edition, Deakin students explored what Freedom of Expression means to them. Rowan Girdler explores how for some, writing fan-fiction is a freedom of expression. The Deakin Pride Queer Society looks how it can be the need for gender neutral bathrooms, and their work towards achieving this. Bonnee Crawford talks about being blocked, and Theertha Muralidhar uses some Meghan Trainor puns to examine body image. Claire Hardy talks about sexuality in Sherlock and Kyah Horrocks reviews Showgirls. Our own editors do an interview with the founder of Archer magazine, and Luke Peverelle talks about autonomy. Tiana Osborne’s non-fiction piece explores deal-breakers in the employment world, and Kate Stuart’s piece analyses death in a fresh way. Also featuring some poetry from Blair Duncan and Luke Peverelle, this issue has certainty shaped up! So with that, welcome to our second edition of 2015, and happy reading! - Jessica, on behalf of the WORDLY team.
DEAL-BREAKER by tiana osborne
I felt the drool run down my face, a line of sticky wet residue balled up under my chin. It felt like sleep and heaviness, the best and worst thing about me. I loved sleep—too much—and I was also a really heavy sleeper, which made me a prime target at sleepovers. Unfortunately. The sleepovers I had with my best friend, who was also my girlfriend, were fun but also frustrating. She enjoyed drawing moustaches and glasses on me as I slept, which always took three or four showers to wash off. ‘They’re art, darling, don’t stifle my creativity!’ was her usual excuse. I will admit, they were usually hilarious, but that didn’t make them any less annoying. Especially since I had to deal with the stress of her antics from last night early this morning. Anyway, I felt the drool. And if I could feel the drool then other people on this intensely fast death trap could see it. Enjoying the last moments of sleep before I was forced to get up and make myself presentable, I envisioned the death trap zooming past a train station and derailing, killing everyone on board in a matter of seconds. Now that gave me motivation enough to face the looks of disgust I would see staring at me when I chose to be awake to the world. I opened my eyes, slowly, squinting out to see how many people I was dealing with. Thankfully, two, maybe three, noticed at most, including a posh looking older woman and the toddler sitting beside her. The toddler giggled at me, so I smiled back, but the lady wasn’t too impressed at the ‘improper’ state I must have been in. That was little enough though to wipe the drool with the back of my sleeve without being scrutinised further. Thank you universe! I checked my watch, noticing I had thirty minutes until my appointment, and twenty minutes left on the train. That was enough time to get there and centre myself before I walked in. Walked in to certain doom. My idea of doom included several ‘suits’ judging me, making assumptions and generally not appreciating my idea of expression.
Walking into the interview room, I shook the hands of two people: one man in an expensive brown suit, and a lady in a skirt with a suit jacket, hair coiled back in a petite bun. They regarded me with interested expressions, probably unsure of what they were going to get from me. I was polite, said hi and took a seat. They started with the usual questions: experience? Education? Dreams? I had a considerate amount of skill in the areas they were looking for, maybe too much. But they seemed to be fairly impressed with my qualifications, which gave me a bit of hope. The interview progressed slowly into why I wanted to work for them, and what I could offer their company. I had prepared answers to all of these questions, which surprised even me. Judging their reactions, they seemed reasonably pleased with my preparation. When the interview wrapped up they asked if I had any questions. I asked them if my appearance was going to affect their decision, because obviously that was going to be a deal-breaker. ‘No.’ This answer surprised me, I regarded them quizzically. ‘We think you would fit the position perfectly.’ When I still seemed confused they went on: ‘Individuality is very important to us. You impressed us enough with your credentials, your self-expression should be your own to choose. No one should be allowed to take that away from you.’ I smiled. I think I’m going to like this arrangement.
I am what society might call ‘alternative’. I am a natural blonde, but my hair is dyed black, and I wear heavy black eyeliner, usually with a black choker and an assortment of my black, yet stylish clothes. Most people call me a ‘scary goth that should be kept away from kids’, or an ‘emo’. The thing is though, I love my life, and I love black. I’m not into heavy metal or pain, and to be frank, blood freaks me out. I consider myself just a girl who likes to show her emotions through the way she looks, is it too much to ask that people respect that? Today, for this blasted board of devils, I went with my usual make-up and hair routine, but I chose to wear my version of a suit, so that they would consider me presentable. It’s all black, with my heeled, studded boots. It’s presentable but still fits within my style. I know they will judge me and all my piercings and tattoos and black attire, but if they won’t take me for who I am then I don’t want to work for them.
theertha encourages everybody to think positively about their bodies.
We’ve all had that dream where we seamlessly fit into our good ol’ pair of jeans. Ah, the sheer felicity. From adolescence, half your life is spent pondering over which clothes make you look large. A lot of us would be lying to ourselves if we said we weren’t trying to lose a couple of kilos right now. We have that fitness regime to adhere to, yoga classes, gym and morning jogs. Is all this done just to stay healthy or is it for the purpose of losing weight to enhance your physical allure? Well, people might say both. Deep down, you know you want to stay in shape and feel good about yourself. For some of us, this includes losing weight. So why does being slender make you feel good? Take a moment and think about it. Exercise is wonderful, but not at the risk of starving ourselves. Sure, you’re robust and all that, but that doesn’t mean people who aren’t skinny aren’t in fine fettle. The baseline is, many of us are working out to lose weight for societal approval. Yes, this might set off some volcanoes, but the more you think about it, the more the pieces fit together. What’s wrong with putting on some healthy weight? Many of us seem to be following a standard image of physical beauty set by society. If you aren’t tall and thin, you’re inexorably labelled ‘not good enough’. Who sets these stereotypes? Morosely, we do. People empathise with healthier people and shower them with condolences when they honestly don’t need it. With the intention of making them feel better, we annihilate their self-esteem. I know people who shower their peers with remarks like, ‘if you lose weight, you’d look amazing!’ and the most bothersome one of all—‘you have a beautiful face!’ and the sentence hangs in midair after that. I can almost see the sparks of psychological complexes lighting up the terrain. An individual who was once bold and confident is now worrying about the misfortune of her aesthetics. What is wrong with the way she looks? The truth is—absolutely nothing! They are perfect and don’t have to lose the teeniest fraction off their flawless bods. The stereotyped perception of the blue-eyed, blonde haired beauty has slithered its way into our mindset through mass media. In an ancient era, women with curves were sculpted into pieces of art. It all lies in the way society perceives beauty. The present time chooses a brutally harsh method of analysing the beautiful human form, labelling and criticising it rather than accepting each individual figure. If I had to choose between being a supermodel whose career depends on her maintaining a skinny figure, or a voluptuous woman who has the liberty to eat what she wants, I would choose the latter without second thought. Unfortunately, a lot of us feel self-conscious eating in front of people. The larger you are, the more embarrassed you feel about eating since every move of yours is being scrutinized. At
dinners, a lot of us end up stacking a corner of our plates with a portion of salad, pretending we don’t have good appetites, only to come back home starving and ransack the kitchen like a guilty tornado. Nope, munching chips and savouring desserts is out of the question without being thrown dirty glares. Thus, eating is confined within the four walls of the kitchen. I say, to hell with that. It’s time to eat like no one’s watching. I love food and I am going to pile my plate with a mountain of delicacies every single day. If someone makes a face and tells me I’m going to get fat, I’m going to eat them too.
the present time chooses a brutally harsh method of analysing the beautiful human form, labelling and criticising it rather than accepting each individual figure. This makes me wonder about how shallow society can be. Why are we spending so much time on appearance when we could be achieving so much more? The word ‘diet’ embarrasses me, rather than the term ‘fat’. Are we really living in a free world which gloats on the perks of freedom, or are we still blindly conforming to the status quo? Plus size women are expected to dress conservatively and some find it extremely hard to find clubbing clothes at the store. So much for freedom. Well, screw that. Curves are meant to be flaunted, not covered within layers of drab clothing! Without further ado, strut that thang in bikini and thongs. You have every right to. So, if someone tells me I’ve grown fat over the days, I’m going to smile, say thank you and genuinely mean it. Being healthy is wonderful and no more time should be wasted mulling over ways to lose unnecessary weight! The next time you look at yourself in the mirror, trying on clothes to check if they make you look fat, flip that thought upside down and toss it o’er the mountains and yonder. The haters can grab a pair of sunglasses, because it’s your time to shine. Embrace your sizzling curves and hold on to them for dear life. Yeah, I’m bringing booty back.
The 21st Century Opinion by luke peverelle
There’re not many who are prepared to defend to the death the things that they say death, after all, is a fearful venture and we hardly live in times of fear no, now is the digital age with networks and nodes hosting a billion trillion bleeding hearts and hypotheses opinions uneducated and clumsy the roaring engines of debate and circumstance should they have? or might they have? or could they have? weighing up the pros and cons in a great and universal game where the only real rule is don’t lose your temper after all, tone and content are one and the same and a logical fallacy is simply an attempt at sabotage (do not listen to them, they do not mean you well) you are a citizen of civilisation! a free being! your words are validated by the air you breathe and the food you eat, and the news you read a simple gesture is all that’s required because truth is merely interpretation, and you can’t believe everything that you read (and where do race and gender come into it, anyhow?) and your entitlement it is worth more than the purest gold so why bother to defend at all? you know you are right, they know it too, they just don’t know it yet and you smile, and laugh in the face of their rage and remain glad that the world is like this a wondrous place where you need not know anything but may speak out on it nonetheless and none may challenge you no, defending is for other people.
Release the fiction rowan’s thoughts on why it’s okay to write fan-fiction.
‘is authors including fan-made characters in the works a good thing because it rewards loyal and creative fans and encourages others to write, or does it blur the line between author and reader in a way that endangers the concept of originality?’
‘Freedom of Expression’ is one of those terms that manages to be both vague and emotive at the same time. For me it conjures images of jiggling speech bubbles, flying splashes of paint that morph into birds on the wing and people dancing in public places. Put all of those images together, combine them with a high-pitched techno track, and you have a music video from the early 2000s. Freedom of expression is arguably the greatest driving force in the Arts and it’s something we should all hold sacred, but often it drives artists into controversial territory. It then raises the question: how much should we be free to express, and if not everything, why not? There isn’t much I could add to that debate that has not been said already, so instead I would like to examine a specific but less serious way in which freedom of expression can be controversial, namely the creation of fan-fiction. ‘Fan-fiction’ is another emotive term. Some of you will be rolling your eyes at the mere combination of sounds that make up the name, while others will be thinking positive thoughts about things you’ve read or written. So which group has it right? Obviously, people write fan-fiction. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, ‘fan-fiction’ is an umbrella term for any story that uses the characters, settings or other significant aspects of a fictional world created by a published author which is written by someone other than said author or someone the author has granted permission to. Usually it is written by an author’s fans as a way of expressing their own wishes about how a story should go, often involving romances between characters who are not ‘canonically’ involved, or otherwise taking creative licence with aspects of their favourite stories. It exists on the Internet in exorbitant amounts, and there are entire websites devoted to it. It is important to remember, though, that fan-fiction is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of pop-culture and it has only taken off as a form of recreation in the last few years, parallel to the rise of ‘fandoms’ (‘fandoms’, like fan-fiction, are a newly emerged aspect of popular culture that essentially describe communities of people who are all fans of one particular book series or television show). Prior to this it existed only in the realm of the terminally geeky. Consequently it hovers in an awkward place, not quite part of the mainstream but slowly inching closer. Authors are divided on the subject. Many, including some as high profile as George RR Martin, actively dislike and discourage it. In Martin’s case he views creation of fan-fiction as copyright infringement, clearly wishing to defend the integrity of his intellectual property in the strictest of its interpretations, while also considering writing fan-fiction to be bad practice for emerging writers. Many other authors however do the opposite, not only encouraging their fans to use their characters and worlds but, in some cases, going so far as to legitimise it by including fan-made characters into their official stories. Derek Landy, author of the popular Skulduggery Pleasant series, is one example of this. Towards the end of his series when its popularity was at its height, he allowed fans to submit outlines for a pair of characters, one Australian and one New Zealander, into a competition where the prize for the best entry was inclusion in his next novel and thus elevation from fan-fiction into the realm of canon material. The winning entry led to the inclusion of fan-made characters Hayley Skirmish and Tane Aiavaio, who made their way into his novel series and (spoilers) were killed off not long afterwards. This was not even the first time Mr Landy has done this, including another fan-made character, Myosotis Terra, in his own writing not long before. She even survived. So who is right, Derek or Martin? Is authors including fan-made characters in their works a good thing because it rewards loyal and creative fans and encourages others to write, or does it blur the line between author and reader in a way that endangers the concept of originality? For my part, I used to think so. Mention fan-fiction in my hearing and I’d likely snort or roll my eyes. Pursue the topic and I’d tell you that only authors have the right to produce content pertaining to their stories and settings, and that as an aspiring author myself I’d find it offensive if someone had the presumption to impose their own ideas on what I had created (can you hear George RR Martin cheering?). I’d also point out that the vast majority of fan-fiction is poorly written smut made by mouth-breathers looking for new ways to enable their sexualities. In short, I’d come across as pretentious and unbearable. Unbeknownst to you I’d be hypocritical as well, for I, like many other people, have written fan-fiction. Why then did I write it if I despised it so much? For the simple reason that I enjoy writing, and working with pre-established material that I love is a much easier exercise than creating something from scratch. Therein lies the real value of fan-fiction. It allows us aspiring artists to flex our creative muscles, come to grips with simple things like plot, grammar and syntax before attempting to make something that is completely our own, in the same way that a child must crawl before it can learn to walk. Fanfiction can be a useful learning tool, and the fact that much of it is simply written and sexual is an inevitable side-effect of human nature. Most of us aren’t writers, but the vast majority are interested in sex. Furthermore, almost everything ever written has been inspired by other works already published, and this brings the whole concept of originality into question. Creativity does not exist in a void. All artists take inspiration from other art and so continue the cycle of interpretation. Much like the point made at the end of The Lego Movie, re-interpretation of the existing is not destructive chaos but an organic process intrinsic to the development of our own understanding. It was this realisation that made me abandon my previous views on fan-fiction. Yes, most of it is terrible. But it has its place. All of us should be free to express ourselves, regardless of skill. And to be someone who inspires others to do so would be a point of pride for me as an author, if I ever get there, as it should be for all masters of imagined worlds.
by kyah horrocks A while ago I met a tall and charming individual who like Madonna before him, chose to apply the principle of ‘freedom of expression’ not only in the music he produced but via appearances in feminist pornography. If you’re too young to recall a time when Madonna was hot and/or did softcore porn, do check out her coffee table book Sex. Your mum won’t thank you but your coffee table sure will. That my friends, is my gift to you of a review within a review, and this whole exercise is quickly turning into a giant sexy matryoshka doll and I’m into it, but things tend to get a bit weird when you hang out with actual porn stars. So during said encounter, I’m talking to this new friend of mine and to the merry tune of our creaking bones and age-related illnesses we exchanged some nostalgic lamentations on the bold sensual extravagances of our mutually trashy youths. In this, the downward trajectory of our aesthetic prime, in the twisting embers of our extinguished senses of shame and sexual novelty, our musings quickly derailed into dangerously ambitious territory. Tempted irrecoverably by a shared fondness for the sad and ironic, we somehow decided to celebrate our jaded descent into this deeper kind of adulthood by arranging to give each other wristies in a cinema. ‘I’m committed!’ he declared, already selecting a jacket that might aptly disguise our sinful business. ‘Wait,’ I said, ‘the movie matters.’ Luckily for my karmic scorecard and come to think of it, all parents everywhere–there weren’t really any children’s movies on at that time that would satisfy my desire for something ‘wildly inappropriate’. Nor has Schindler’s List graced our screens since Seinfeld put that makeout fantasy in all our heads. Just when we were about to give up and I don’t know–get married or something, we discovered that a local arthouse theatre was soon to screen a certain 90s ‘bad movie’ classic about Nevada strippers. We promptly downgraded our criteria to ‘lustfully appropriate’, incidentally keeping us each out of prison for another episode of two disgraceful life stories that should probably never have crossed over. Handjobs aside, who among we cinematic masochists could resist a taste of a film cited as one of the worst of all time? At face value at least, the menu of raw facts I snacked on before sitting down was deliciously tantalising. Its title is Showgirls, it’s set in the moral armpit that is Las Vegas and the original poster suggests its protagonist might actually be just a big hairless leg. My appetite was thoroughly whetted. I was soon to discover I was as wrong as any world that would allow this piece of shit film to be made and served to a discerning consumer. As many knives as I’ve pulled on strangers in my time, I found it hard to relate to the confusing antics of Nomi, our little stripper that could. What I liked the best about Nomi’s character arc was that it was COMPLETELY FUCKING ABSENT from the machinations of the story. She actually ends up exactly where she began, on the same road, getting picked up by the same car, pulling the same knife on the same driver. Nomi mate, you’ve literally learned nothing. But that was the least of her sins in Vegas, which include but are not limited to property damage, wilful assault of fried food, sexual battery of an aluminium pole and whatever crime it is to kick the bejeezus out of someone with your stilettos. If instead of free expression, filmmaking were a means of global dispute settling, Nomi alongside everyone involved in this movie would be guilty of war crimes. And while witnessing all this from the highly convenient double seat we found that was installed either for ‘lovers’ or simply for ‘the obese’, my porn star friend and I just couldn’t rise to the task we had so gleefully conspired to perform. Not only were we offended on an artistic level, but we were repulsed by the Showgirls brand of sexiness that was less ‘sexy’ and more ‘a stampede of cheap salty flesh’. Honestly I could hear the very essence of myself as a sexual person crying as it committed suicide within me. I began to sob in the cinema. ‘I’ll never have sex again!’ I wailed. ‘What about me, I’ll never work again!’ replied my porn star friend. We gathered our jackets and trudged home, broken people. This was a mistake and a disaster, and I’m talking here about the film and all the events of my life that culminated in me seeing it. This is the dark side of freedom, people. Some things just shouldn’t be expressed. Kyah is on twitter @1rednail and Tumblr as tinkwisdom
Q&A with Amy Middleton
founding editor of archer gives insight on the magazine of sexual diversity.
Q: Amy, you started Archer, Melbourne’s journal of sexual diversity, in 2013. Why did you decide to do it? Did you feel like there was something lacking in the literary world that Archer could amend? A: I was actually working in corporate publishing, rather than the literary world, when I had the idea for Archer. I was writing about caravans and cars and I really wanted to be writing about sexuality and gender. I decided to find a mag—print or online— that explored those themes in a progressive, long-form and intelligent way so I could go and write for them, but I didn’t find what I was looking for. If the mag had existed, I would’ve just pitched to it. When I realised it didn’t, I thought it would be lazy of me as a journo to do anything other than launch it myself. That seems crazy, in retrospect!
Q: Do you think Archer is doing what you wanted it to do when you started it? A: Most of my aims had to do with the content, and representing lesser-heard voices from the community. I choose and commission the content and edit it for consistency and style, so of course, I think the content is great. We’ve also had some killer writers contribute pieces including Christos Tsiolkas, Ben Law and Krissy Kneen. Most importantly, though, the response from the LGBTI and sex-positive community has been great. Last year we won the Media Award at the 2014 Honour Awards, which are voted for by the LGBTI community in New South Wales. This year, we received distribution in the USA, so Archer will be stocked in New York, LA and San Francisco. Along with all the positive feedback we receive, these are signposts to me that Archer is on the right track. Q: Has it been an easy job so far? A: Nah, I wouldn’t say easy. But it has felt right.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the bumps you’ve faced along the way? A: I certainly wasn’t prepared for the entrepreneurial side of things. It wasn’t until I was 12 months in that I realised I had started a small business, and the administrative and financial aspects of that reality continue to shock me! I think it’s pretty rare to be naturally business savvy as well as creative and innovative. So it’s been a steep learning curve of budgets, incomes and expenditures, managing people, chasing up invoices … you get the picture. When I finally sit down to do the editorial stuff, it feels like a leisure activity. Q: What about some of the highlights? A: There are so many. On a personal level, the awards we’ve won, the sense of achievement from seeing a project through to this point, and being invited to speak at events and festivals feel just as rewarding and awesome as they sound. But in a bigger-picture sense, getting into the community and trying to represent them in the best way we can is great, because it feels worthwhile. We’re also doing our bit to diversify the Australian media, and it really needs it. Q: Archer is a journal of sexual diversity and so the topics and issues covered in the submissions are specific to these aspects of the contributors’ lifestyle. Do you ever worry that the content will become repetitive after a few editions, or do you believe that there will always be something new and interesting to talk about with regards to Australia’s attitudes to sexuality, gender and identity? Give us your thoughts on this matter. A: I’ve never even considered that we might run out of content. We exist on the belief that the notion of sex is complex for everyone, regardless of how you identify. Sex itself is completely different from one lesbian to the next, for instance; and how one polyamorous person views relationships can vary wildly from
another. My point is, there will never be a shortage of human stories, and they’re all unique and fascinating. Q: Are there certain aspects of sexual diversity that you’d like to receive more submissions about? What hasn’t been talked about enough, or at all, in Archer? A: Women! We always want more women. We’re also on the lookout for people with cultural experiences outside of white Australia—a great way to examine Western attitudes towards sex is to step back from the culture and look at it from with a new perspective, so we encourage racial and cultural diversity in our writing. We also like publishing stories from people with disabilities about their attitudes towards sex. It’s the voices you don’t hear often in the media that we most like to showcase.
‘... there will never be a shortage of human stories, and they’re all unique and fascinating.’
gender are rarely straightforward, even if you are cis, straight and whatever else the mainstream media deems to be the ‘standard’. I felt shame of my own sexuality as a kid, and that was a huge motivator for starting Archer. I reckon if we encourage more open discussion about sex, desire, consent, identity, play, bodies, etc—it will reduce some of the shame and secrecy that shrouds sexuality in our society. Q: Can you give us a hint as to what we should expect to see in the next edition of Archer when it comes out in June? A: This issue, for the first time, we’ve commissioned a series of articles that explore sexuality for older Australians, and gender identity later in life. We’ll be showcasing the thoughts, writing and bodies of people over 60, which is something we don’t see enough in the media. On the other side of the age spectrum, we’re kicking off a new series in which Archer interviews one celebrity whose sexuality has impacted their career, and this is particularly aimed at younger readers, to provide a bit of insight into navigating sexual identities in the workplace. Thank you for your time.
Q: While in 2015 I think it’s safe to say that the world is a little more accepting of talking about sex than it used to be, but there are still people who turn their noses up at the mention of anything sexual and anything that isn’t heteronormative. There is still an undeniable social taboo surrounding topics of sexual diversity. I feel that Archer is taking steps to fight against and eradicate the silence on these issues by giving people of a sexually diverse lifestyle an opportunity to express themselves in the same pages where others are doing the same. What are your thoughts on this? A: I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned eradicating silence. We encourage discussion first and foremost. We try not to take too much of a stance on issues within sexpositive conversation, it’s just about hearing other people’s stories, celebrating difference, and recognising that sex and
WORDLY editors catch up with Amy Middleton.
Claire, Ollie and Patrick on the need for gender neutral bathrooms.
The executive team running the Deakin Pride Queer Society discusses their work with DUSA to create gender neutral bathroom facilities for Deakin’s gender diverse students. The transgender community isn’t solely people transitioning between genders. The term ‘transgender’ is itself an umbrella term referring to people whose gender identity does not match the gender that they were assigned at birth. Gender itself is also not a simple binary of male and female; there are a number of different gender identities. Entering a public bathroom is complicated if you’re transitioning from one gender to another, questioning your gender or identify differently to your assigned gender. You may be made to feel uncomfortable, denied access, experience harassment or even physical abuse. If a student is struggling with their gender identity or are in a situation where declaring their gender may put them in an unsafe position, gendered bathrooms may also force them to out themselves. Recently, a student posted on Deakin’s StalkerSpace explaining that they were gender-fluid, they stated that they identified more as male some days and more female on others. They posed a simple question: on the days they presented as female, would the women on campus mind if they used the female bathrooms? The post received an overwhelmingly positive response from both male and female students assuring this young person that they did not mind which bathrooms they chose to use, as long as they were comfortable. As the executive team of the Deakin Pride Queer Society, we can assure you that this is not the only student that is afraid or uncomfortable using Deakin’s current bathroom facilities. Deakin has many gender diverse students, and many of these students have expressed to us personally their desire for non-gendered bathrooms so that they no longer feel forced to adhere to an inaccurate gender identity.
‘Students began to message us asking for more stickers so that they could replace the stickers when they were taken down.’ In 2013, the National Union of Students ran the ‘We All Need to Pee’ campaign. The campaigns’ message was simple, inoffensive and came in the form of stickers: Trans*, genderqueer, androgynous and other people who don’t fit the sex and gender stereotypes have a right to safe bathroom access. But many face being questioned, harassed, assaulted or reported to the authorities. This means that going to the bathroom can be a daily struggle. Let people use the bathroom in peace, and speak up if you witness harassment. Since March 2014, we have been putting up these stickers in the Deakin bathrooms. Time and time again these stickers have been ripped down. This battle eventually focalised on a single bathroom in the Learning Space; the one found across from the Mature Aged Student’s Room and next to the kitchenette. This bathroom contained only one toilet and so did not necessitate gendering. We placed the sticker on the wall above the toilet, only to find it ripped down again a couple of hours later. We immediately put up another. What happened next however was a pleasant surprise; students started to notice the stickers and that they were being torn down as quickly as they went up. Students began to message us asking for more stickers so that they could replace the stickers when they were
taken down. Another student set up a Facebook group called Sticker Watch which kept us updated on the sticker’s status and so that we could send someone out to replace it the moment someone removed it. This battle is still continuing. Following the ‘We All Need to Pee’ campaign, Melbourne’s Swinburne, Sydney’s University of Technology and the University of New South Wales remodelled some of their bathroom facilities. These bathrooms became gender neutral in that they refrained from signage dictating ‘male’ or ‘female’. These new facilities were received positively by both the student bodies and the general public as well as generating further discussion and education to the public on transgender and genderqueer wellbeing. Of course gender neutral bathrooms are not a bizarre concept, for example: we don’t gender the bathrooms in our homes. These bathrooms are not replacing the gendered facilities provided; they would only provide a safe alternative for those who would prefer them. We are only asking for a further option in order to better facilitate the needs and comforts of all students at Deakin. In the past, it has been suggested that people who feel uncomfortable using gendered bathrooms may use disability access bathrooms instead, which are usually unisex. However, this is unacceptable as a long-term solution, for several reasons. Firstly it takes resources from those with disabilities, which are themselves limited. Also, with the already high demand for gender neutral bathrooms that is only growing with the student population, this will not provide us with enough facilities to accommodate the needs of all Deakin students. Instead, DUSA is working closely with us to put together a proposal for the creation of official gender neutral bathrooms across the Deakin campuses. These will not simply be bathrooms with a sticker on the wall declaring them to be gender neutral. When you are creating gender neutral bathrooms you have several options. Some of the options we are looking at are: a. We create an additional set of multi-stalled cubicles with non-gendered signage on the external door. Instead, we’ll label the door as a ‘Gender neutral bathroom’.
Building further bathroom facilities in sets of three single occupancy bathrooms: ‘Male’, ‘Female’ and ‘Gender neutral’. These three bathrooms would also be disability accessible.
The creation of a smaller gender neutral bathroom in the proximity of each set of larger multi-stall gendered bathrooms. Signs outside the gendered bathrooms will provide directions to nearby gender neutral bathrooms. Each of these gender neutral options would contain sanitary bins. It is the university’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for all students, and all students have a right to feel comfortable at all times. Creating a gender neutral bathroom or remodelling a bathroom to be gender neutral is in itself incredibly straightforward and is often a simple as modifying the sign on the door. A small price to pay for something that has been proven to benefit not only the mental health and wellbeing of students, but also their physical safety and privacy. DUSA’s Welfare Officer, Patrick Amarant is working with Claire Hardy and Ollie Tolerton from the Deakin Pride Queer Society, to draft a gender neutral bathrooms proposal to take to Deakin University Senior Management. This proposal will outline in depth why we need gender neutral bathrooms at Deakin University. If you want to know more or tell them how you feel about this issue, feel free to message them at email@example.com .
soldiers at the mcg by blair duncan
We hike Guns blazing Armed to the teeth Ready boys? People say I’m a warrior That I carry the burden of our beautiful sunburnt land on my shoulders And I do, my comrades and me We dive in, pellets flying, knee-deep in shit We’re composed, Obedient We’ve got each other’s backs We do—until Man down! Fall back! Fall back! Jesus He sure got done My brother He’ll be out for weeks I see the bastard that done it I fly Elbows pumping Tackle him! There he goes Out on the forward flank Fuckin’ run! Run mate! I grab him but The cunt swings past me easy Shit He’s going for it Goal!
blocked Nothing is more disheartening to someone who thrives off constantly creating things to express themselves than realising that they’re blocked. Writers, artists, musicians and just about anyone who uses a creative outlet regularly will experience this feeling at some point, and most usually experience it many times throughout their creative lives. It’s even worse when that creative outlet is more than just a hobby. When the creative outlet is something you strive to do professionally, you get a tight knot in your stomach and a terrifying thought runs through your head: what if I can never do this again? There are two pieces of advice I hear often and they tend to oppose each other. The first is that if you feel like you’re blocked, you should take a step back and do something else for a little while; busy yourself with other things, don’t overthink it, come back to it later and try again when you think the block has cleared up. The other piece of advice I’ve heard is to persist; if you can’t seem to get anything decent out, then don’t worry about how good or bad it is, just create. Create junk. Create nonsense. Create crap. But don’t you dare stop creating until that good stuff starts coming out again. I’ve found through personal experience that both of these options have a way of working. Which one is most suitable will depend on the individual person, and even then one person’s block might be fixed in a different way from one situation to the next. There are different reasons these blocks occur, and they range from random blocks for no apparent reason, to a block because you’ve been working on something for too long and your creative juices need a break. In other cases, you might have just finished something and you’re struggling to decide what you want to start next, or some exterior factor in another area of your life is affecting your ability to create. That last one is the scariest in my opinion, because it doesn’t actually have anything to do with your creativity. You might find that whatever it is also hinders your performance in other parts of your life. You’re sitting there trying to deal with whatever is going on—a sudden and severe illness, turmoil in your relationship with your friends or family or lover, the death of a loved one—and you turn to your creative outlet to help you sort out your feelings. You sit there, staring at the blank Word document, or the blank canvas, or the untouched strings of your guitar and nothing will come out. You get frustrated. You tell yourself, ‘just do it’ and you try to create something, but every time your fingers hover above the letters of the keyboard, or you go to pick which colour to dip your paintbrush in, or you try to decide which note to hit first, you can’t do it. That horrible thought crosses your mind: will I ever be able to do this again? You throw down what you’re doing and cry for a little while, or you break something, or you go for a long walk to clear your head, but when you come back, still nothing. The worst part is: you know that whatever was going on in your life which caused you to turn to your creative outlet for is the same thing that’s stopping you from being creative. You wonder how on earth you’re going to deal with it without your writing, or your painting, or your drawing, or your music and you realise—though you may deny it for some time—that maybe you’re going to have to find a different way to deal with it. So how do you deal with it? Suddenly, you’re responsible for pinpointing—if you haven’t already—and fixing that thing that is stealing or blocking your creativity. When something happened to me which caused me great stress, and I turned to my fiction writing to help me deal with it, I was so upset when I realised that the very 20
bonnee’s advice on how to deal with a creative block.
thing I was trying to fix was stopping me from doing the thing that I believed could fix it. Sometimes it takes a while to click, but eventually it has to happen. Because you are a creative person and this is what creative people do. It took me a couple of weeks to realise that my fiction writing wasn’t always going to be the cure to everything that ever went wrong for me, at least not always at the start. But before I realised that, I had to realise that if I didn’t fix what was going on in my life—or at least how it was making me feel—then I would never get my fiction writing back. Sometimes, we become a little too fixed in our creative ways that we forget that there are other ways to be creative; there are other angles we can tackle things from. And that’s what creative people have to do when their creativity is being blocked. I started searching for a new angle. How could I fix the way life was making me feel without channelling it into made-up characters and storylines?
‘sometimes, we become a little too fixed in our creative ways that we forget that there are other ways to be creative; there are other angles we can tackle things from.’ My solution was still to write, but instead of fiction, it was to write nonfiction. At first, it was very ridged and based on facts and research. It took a few attempts to warm to the idea of writing about what was on my mind without the fiction to distance myself from it: not even the smallest divergence from the truth. It was strange to write about something so personal with full reference to myself, and to write about the parts that I’d been denying to myself for a long time. But to finally have it all written down on the page, with the ability to scroll back and add words where I’d realised I’d missed something— to finally have everything I could think of written down in chronological order and in full detail— felt really good. It helped me make sense of what was happening in my head and it helped me piece together things that I wouldn’t have put together without writing it down. This helped me deal with the things that were going on in my life in a more head-on manner and it meant that when I reached out for help in other ways, I knew what to look for and I could explain what was going on in a way that made sense to other people trying to help. Admittedly, I’m not quite there yet. I haven’t written fiction again and I haven’t finished dealing with the things that were and are happening. But I am writing and it’s slowly getting more creative, even when I’m writing about real things in a real way. When your creative block has been caused by factors in another part of your life, don’t allow yourself to believe that you’ll never be able to do it again. Find another angle: another way to deal with whatever is going on. Whether that means expressing your creativity in a different form, or finding a different way to deal with the issue altogether, or a little bit of both. With time, you’ll fix whatever was wrong and at the end of the day, you’ll be able to use the experience to create something amazing.
Free Will and Responsibility luke evaluates the importance of responsibility in autonomy.
Freedom’s a funny thing. Not funny ‘ha ha’, because there are just too many violations of it in the world for me to giggle at. Restrictions on the freedom to marry, to have children, to seek asylum; these are all things you will be familiar with. They have led to many angry, indignant outbursts from myself and others. But rather than rehash matters you’ve probably heard by now, I wanted to make an observation on the nature of freedom. Like everyone else, I enjoy the concept. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because it doesn’t matter what your race, culture, ethnicity or background is; we all strive for it, and most of us do it without thinking (lucky bastards that we are). However, there are many stories of people who sacrificed something in the hope they could have that which, by all common sense and decency, should have been theirs to begin with. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera during the Stonewall riots ... these are just some examples. I might also mention that when coming up with examples, those listed above were the first that came to mind (and none of them are white). I wonder why? Mind you, freedom isn’t always the history changing, earth-shaking kind that you often hear about; it’s the little things. Freedoms in the workplace, in public, about the clothing you wear. The freedom to not be ashamed of how much sex you’re having—that’s a big one. I read a comment yesterday that opined that feminism has become overly concerned with ‘how much dick women can get’ and that its focus should be on creating more female presidents and astronauts. To put it mildly, I think that person has missed the point. More female presidents and astronauts would be great! But they would only be a few drops in the bucket of societal change, and I’d rather a waterslide of institutional progress.
‘i want to live my life for me, and not in service to anyone else. Of course, to do otherwise is fine. that, funnily enough, is the meaning of free will.’ Being a middle-class white boy, I digress. A more personal brand of freedom has taken my interest of late, and that is the concept of autonomy. Without wishing to offend any religious folks who are reading this, I find the idea that our decisions should always be in homage to God or anyone else unappealing. I want to live my life for me, and not in service to anyone else. Of course, to do otherwise is fine. That, funnily enough, is the meaning of free will. To undertake any course you choose, to whatever end you design. This brings me to my point. How often do people—you, your mother, anyone at all—consider the responsibility that comes with free will? We’ve all heard the Spiderman maxim, and it’s a no-brainer that our actions have consequences, but how often does it cross your mind that it’s up to us to be wise? To realise that we are the architects of our own actions and that the only ones that can hold us to account are ourselves? I’m a big Assassin’s Creed fan. I make no secret of it. The eponymous Creed contains the maxim ‘nothing is true, everything is permitted’. Which, yeah, is kind of pretentious, but when a character stated that it’s not a doctrine, merely an observation of the world, it got me thinking. Most certainly, we can do anything within reason, and at the end of the day, the values we hold dear— justice, mercy, rightness—are not truths at all. But as humans, we cannot live in such a way. Chaos and anarchy would prevail if we did whatever we pleased and ignored the consequences of our actions. It can be confronting. But for me, it lets me know where I stand. Where some would find an existential vacuum, I find comfort. The only truths that stand at the end of the day, are the ones we make for ourselves. Without the freedom to act—without this fondness for life and liberty—there is little else to be had. Most decisions are fairly pedestrian like what to wear and what to eat, but every once in a while, there’ll be something significant. When that day comes, think about how you plan to own that decision, because that is the essence of freedom.
mikayla flockhart 23
a scandal in biphobia claire discusses the misrepresentation of sexualities in sherlock.
‘I have been beaten four times - three times by men, and once by a woman.’ - Sherlock Holmes Mysterious, cunning, resourceful; all traits that can be attributed to Irene Adler. As the only named character in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle canon to outwit Holmes, she is often featured in cinematic adaptations. Given the gross lack of representation of female characters in the cinematic universe, this should be applaudable, however, the result is often diminishing. In the novel, there is one chapter dedicated to Holmes’ interaction with Adler and she is seldom mentioned again, as per the structure of the novel being a series of recounts of individual events. However, this does not undermine the fact that Adler’s role is integral. If you can create such an empowering character so succinctly, why would you feel the need to extend her performance? Most commonly, it is to portray a romance between her and Holmes. Not only is this painfully heteronormative, it also completely misses the point of Adler’s role in the original novel. The most tragically misguided adaptation has to be the episode ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ in Steven Moffat’s miniseries, Sherlock. Even sticking to the original structure and allowing Adler one episode, Moffat manages to completely derail her character in 90 minutes. Admittedly, the episode starts out strong; set in modern day, Adler is portrayed as a lesbian dominatrix. True to the novel, Adler bests Holmes in their initial encounter. However, originally this is where the story ends; Adler won, case closed. In Sherlock, Adler sticks around to flirt in no subtle manner with Holmes. Now, if you can’t see the problem with a romance between a canon lesbian and a canon asexual male, then I think you may need to re-evaluate. What’s frustrating is that Moffat almost got it right in terms of sexuality. Personally, I feel that it is unnecessary to try and force romantic connotations into the plot, although there is certainly room to include the classic unrequited love trope with the compelling twist that Holmes is in fact asexual and cannot return Adler’s affections. However, in explicitly stating that Adler is a lesbian, Moffat has boxed off the opportunity for romance between her and Holmes. An attempt to rectify this has clearly been made when Adler accuses John Watson of being in love with Holmes. Watson states defensively ‘I’m not gay!’ to which Adler replies, ‘Well I am. Look at us both’. A seemingly simple exchange of dialogue, however, this borders on being at once biphobic and subconsciously misogynistic. To imply that a lesbian can suddenly and inexplicably fall in love with a man, whilst not an impossibility, comes dangerously close to the stereotypical male power fantasy in which a woman’s sexuality is there purely to appease a man’s, and can therefore be dictated by men. This speculation could easily be avoided by portraying Adler and possibly even Watson as bisexual, therefore creating a strong and interesting dynamic between the three characters.
Had Moffat created a bisexual Adler, or alternatively a lesbian Adler who does not fall in love with Holmes, the portrayal of her still would be irredeemable. There is no denying that Holmes feels a strong affinity towards Adler. This is what is usually mistaken for romance, however, that is clearly debunked on the very first page of the novel: ‘It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler’. So what is the cause of Holmes’ fascination? The answer is simple: He is in awe of her. There are very few people who have managed to outwit Holmes, and Adler is one of them. Well, she was, until Moffat decided to completely strip her of her power. In ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ (spoiler alert), Holmes wins in the end. Even in their first encounter, she bests him not by her wit, but by drugging him and beating him with a whip. Granted, it is always awesome to see a female character overpowering a male character, but the implication behind this particular scene is unnerving. Moffat himself stated that the reason he put that in the episode was because he was aware Adler was supposed to ‘beat’ Holmes in the end, so he turned her victory into a vaguely sexual pun. Also, there is almost no show of Adler’s intelligence throughout the entire episode; towards the end, Adler has a small victory over Holmes when she recognises the phone he gives her as a fake, but before that the only time Adler’s wit even matches Holmes’ is shown through Holmes’ mind, in the form of a dream sequence. Moffat appears to be so uncomfortable with the thought of an intelligent woman that he has to portray her intelligence through the eyes of a male to compensate. Furthermore, he robs Adler of her vitality; not only does Holmes outsmart Adler, but in doing so completely dissolves the protection Adler has built up for herself. It is true that Adler committed a number of crimes and had in her possession incriminating photos of a very powerful member of society. These photos were not being used for blackmail, but rather so that Adler could ensure her own safety. Once Holmes retrieves the photos, Adler is left with nothing to bargain with, and as a result is sentenced to die for her crimes. This in itself is a humiliating turn of events for a character who was originally quite dynamic and self-governing, but to add to this, Holmes has to save her at the last second; an act reminiscent of a knight riding in on his white horse to save the ‘damsel in distress’.
‘now, if you can’t see the problem with a romance between a canon lesbian and a canon asexual male, then i think you may need to reevaluate.’ The imagery of the damsel in distress is one that has been used in novels and films throughout history. It plays off the notion that women are an inherently weaker sex and it is the man’s role to protect and defend them. This is an outdated perspective and a trope that is becoming increasingly less common in the cinematic universe. However, as it’s a theme that has been so keenly integrated into our culture, it is easy to go along with it without realising the misogynistic undertones that may be implied. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was incredibly progressive for its time; the fact that a novel published in 1892 had a female character who was not only strong and independent but actually bested the male protagonist is almost unheard of. It’s a shame that Moffat’s adaptation fell into the cultural trap of subtle sexism.
by kate stuart
Lydia wasn’t sure when she decided to kill him. In fact, she wasn’t even sure that it had been a conscious decision. One second he had been standing over her, towering like the night-time monster from her darkest memories, and in the next he was on his knees in front of her, his life spilling onto the soft fluffiness of her childhood bedroom floor. She felt her own knees buckle and she was grateful that her bed was there to catch her. It was funny, really, that the source of so many nightmares could suddenly save her. She heard a soft thump through the fog in her brain and she turned her head to the right, searching for the source of the noise. Oh. The scissors. They were on the floor now. The scissors from her desk. The ones that she’d grabbed when he came up to her room after Mother left. The scissors that had– He let out a violent cough, spraying the pinkness of the carpet with red and making Lydia jump. His eyes were bulging. Kind of like a water balloon filled with too much liquid. And even though his lips were flapping he wasn’t saying a word. Just making strange gulping noises as he tried to stop the blood rushing out of his throat. Lydia wondered if she should be doing something. Maybe go for a shower or start looking online to buy a new carpet instead of just sitting there. On the bed. Watching him die. It was like some weird staring contest, where the winner would live and the loser would die. Only there was no real question as to who would win any more. Surely he had to know that. And yet he wouldn’t stop staring into her eyes, as if frozen in the moment that the scissors had cut across him. Mother would be home soon. It didn’t take that long to go and pick up a Chinese takeaway. Maybe he would still be breathing when the car pulled into the driveway. Maybe Mother would try to save him. Or maybe she’d just put him out of his misery rather than watching him drown. Lydia lifted one stripey socked foot and prodded his chest with it, marvelling at the fact that he was so close to her and yet so far away. Collapsing backwards at the tiniest push, he wasn’t the overwhelming giant of her nightmares any more. His body twitched and gurgled. It sounded like that time the bathtub’s drain had got all clogged and so the water couldn’t leave as easily as it had before. She’d committed patricide, she realised. That’s what they’d call it when they came for her. And then she would be allocated some fancy lawyers. Maybe they would say it was a form of self-defence. She would probably go to jail. She didn’t really care though. She’d just be moving from one cage to another. He wasn’t moving any more. The sounds were gone. She could just hear mother’s car turning in to the driveway. If only he had held on for a little longer, she thought viciously. Then she felt an odd feeling in her chest, spilling out like a kettle that had been overfilled and set to boil. She realised that she was laughing.
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querelle Australian queer arts journal
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CONTRIBUTORS blair duncan bonnee crawford claire hardy kate stuart kyah horrocks luke peverelle mikayla flockhart ollie tolerton patrick amarant rowan girdler theertha muralidhar tiana osborne