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FOREWORD Here we are, Taboo. The undisclosed, silenced areas of our minds.

As always, it has been an absolute joy (and an enormity of stress!) to work on WORDLY. I am so grateful to every single person who has assisted in the fruition of this magazine in any way, shape, or form. I am proud to announce that this magazine has received the greatest number of submissions than any other edition of WORDLY in the past—double than our second most popular edition. This certainly doesn’t leave the team short of assorted pipe dreams for the future.

Considering the number of submissions, being selected for this edition is a great milestone. So to the writers of this edition: thank you for putting yourself on the line with such a provocative theme, we appreciate you more than you know. To the editors: I appreciate everything you have done for this edition. Even when Mel and I have given you the slimmest of deadlines or the most long-winded explanations of semi-colons, you’ve pulled through and I’m so proud. To DUSA: thanks for actually letting us publish something with such boundary-pushing themes. A special thank you to everyone else listed here for their grand efforts and commitments to something that we all love.

And to you: thanks for picking up this little paper baby! I’d love to see your name in our inbox, or better yet, on this page before the year’s up. Enjoy delving into the crevices of the topics presented on these pages. Tara Komaromy

Editor-in-Chief: Tara Komaromy Managing Editor: Mel O’Connor Communications Manager: Bel Ellison Art Director: Jack McMahon Financial Manager: Aidan Kennedy Social Media Officer: Emily Henry Designer: Mallory Arbour Front Cover Artist: Jessica Ferguson-McLellan

Editors: Jessica Ali Eliz Bilal Julie Dickson Katelin Farnsworth Lori Franklin Tyler McPherson Ari Moore Mel O’Connor Mark Russell Tim Same Justine Stella Alison Turnbull Aiden Walridge-Finlayson Jessica Wartski

Contributors: Jessica Ali Melissa Bandara Eliz Bilal Nikita Boyd Jennifer Briguglio Jackie Chacko Keiley Colpoys Bonnee Crawford Julie Dickson Jessica Ferguson-McLellan Emily Grace Aleksandra Ingham Ashley Kho Surya Matondkar Tyler McPherson Ari Moore Mel O’Connor Elizabeth Ross Mark Russell Robyn Smith Justine Stella Chloe Sumner Matthew Sze Abby Yelland © 2018 Deakin University Student Association Inc 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. Opinions expressed in this publication belong to their respective authors, and it may not be the opinions of WORDLY or DUSA. Unattributed images sourced from Flickr (CC) and Adobe Creative Cloud Assets. Want to advertise? Contact for more information.

04 ‘You can’t say that!’ - Bonnee Crawford 05 Let’s Have a Chat - Abby Yelland 06 The Neon God - Mark Russell 07 Kinky - Mel O’Connor 08 Notes from Cartagena, Colombia - Nikita Boyd 10 Candy - Keiley Colpoys 12 A Very Modern Bottom - Ari Moore 13 Oh, the Shame - Robyn Smith 14 Twofold - Melissa Bandara 15 The Menstruation Taboo - Ashley Kho 16 Him - Tyler McPherson 17 Antecedents - Jackie Chacko 18 Parasite - Aleksandra Ingham 20 The Walls Have Eyes - Elizabeth Ross 21 An Ode to Retail - Justine Stella 22 Revelations - Mark Russell 24 De-Flowered - Emily Grace 25 A Walk - Surya Matondkar 26 Darla - Jennifer Briguglio 28 Short Stature: Misconceptions VS Reality - Julie Dickson 30 Ladies in Red - Eliz Bilal 32 I am not Taboo - Chloe Sumner 33 Euphoria - Matthew Sze 34 End Game - Jessica Ali

Written by Bonnee Crawford Australia is considered by many to be a forward-thinking country graced with a diverse population and a culture of mateship and acceptance. Walking around campus or the streets of Melbourne, the people around us come from myriads of backgrounds and lifestyles.

We are friends, neighbours, citizens of the same world, if not the same country.

However, despite more than 22 per cent of Australian households speaking a language other than English, a devastating number of asylum seekers, and the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, there is still an overwhelming amount of prejudice towards such minority groups. The aforementioned examples barely scrape the surface of diversity in the Australian population, or the variations of bigotry they are subjugated to. Discrimination based on someone’s race, colour, religion, gender, gender identity, sexuality, disability, and other factors, is still rampant.



How do people from marginalised groups and their allies combat this onslaught of discrimination? People tend to throw up their defences when somebody says, ‘You can’t say that’, or, ‘That’s offensive’. It is exhausting and, at times, dangerous to advocate for social justice and basic human rights in the face of intolerance. In many cases, that intolerance is so ingrained in a person that they refuse to be reasoned with. I deliberately say ‘refuse’ instead of ‘cannot’ because we are all capable of learning things we previously did not believe or know, such as, ‘Muslims are not all terrorists’, and ‘Being queer is not a choice’. People can correct their behaviour and change the way they think if they simply listen when somebody explains why something is offensive or corrects their assumptions and stereotypes. There are a set of catch-cries among those who refuse to change their way of thinking. They are a mix of dismissive statements and irrational assertions that can be difficult to penetrate. Those who shout phrases like, ‘Political correctness gone mad!’ and, ‘This is how it has always been!’ are actually saying, ‘I cannot be bothered unlearning the way I think’. Herein lies the knowledge that they could change if they opened their minds. There is no logic behind these sentences to support their argument. It does not supply evidence in favour of the way they think or behave. 4

I’ve made an effort recently to tackle this behavioural pattern with some of my older relatives through social media. I have called one auntie out for being racist, Islamophobic and sexist in the space of one post, and highlighted transphobic ideologies in another. In each case, I attempted to present my viewpoint with sound reasoning in order to educate and promote discussion around the topic. However, she responded with brushoff responses in the vein of, ‘Well that’s your opinion’, and, ‘I’m old so I’m set in my ways, no harm done. I’ll never learn, lol’.

This response makes me want to bang my head against a wall because she is completely aware of her refusal to unlearn and rethink things. Sometimes people will revert to a defensive reaction no matter how calmly you explain why they shouldn’t say or do or think in a particular way. But what is the correct way to respond? I recently saw an exchange on Twitter which provided the perfect example. Renowned journalist Benjamin Law mistakenly misgendered award-winning author Alison Evans.


When the error was brought to his attention, Benjamin Law responded with humility and humbleness. He took responsibility for the error and apologised, saying, ‘That’s absolutely on me’, and, ‘I will do better next time’.

Honestly, this is the best sort of reaction anybody can have to being told they’ve done or said something upsetting or offensive. The most important aspect of this response is that, as well as acknowledging his error, Benjamin Law vowed to be more mindful not to assume a person’s gender in future. He promised to do better.

This is the direction we must push ourselves towards when being corrected or told that we have said something discriminatory or insulting.

Whether our actions were intentional or unconscious, we can still choose how we respond when we’ve made a mistake.

Rather than jumping to the defensive, we can open our minds to what others tell us, take their feedback on board, and learn to adapt and be mindful in future. We can all do better.

a chat

Let's have

Written by Abby Yelland

There was a woman, an old woman. Her face was long and her eyes were sad. She was lying on her side, which only exposed just how skinny she was—no one should ever be that skinny. Her black clothing contrasted the paleness of her skin. Priests walked past without looking at her. Their eyes were on something much more important: St Peter’s Cathedral.

This was my introduction to religion, and my five-year-old eyes could not believe what they were seeing. As the queue to enter St Peter’s Cathedral moved, my sight of the woman vanished. We eventually made it inside, and my first words in a very loud voice—to my parents’ horror—were ‘Oh my God!’ My eyes were soaking in the gold that dripped down the roof and onto the walls. I then said, again too loudly, ‘Why don’t they take all the gold in here and give it to the people out there?’ My voice echoed around the room, causing most people to turn and glare disapprovingly. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about religion. My only experiences with it at this stage were visiting cathedrals around the UK and from watching The Simpsons. But I just couldn’t understand the juxtaposition between inside the cathedral and the poverty outside. At eighteen, I found myself back in Vatican City. This experience was rather different to the first. My parents and I stood in the middle of St Peter’s Square. I watched the hundreds of people queuing to enter St Peter’s Cathedral. I had learnt a great deal about religion since I was five, and as I stood in the August sun mulling it all over, I knew I wasn’t religious. I’d known for quite some time. Now, don’t go thinking that I’m a raging atheist who hates all religion, because I’m not. I like to call myself an agnostic-atheist. You might find yourself asking, well, what does that mean? I believe that everyone has the right to believe what they want. If that’s God, then that’s okay.

I often wonder, why is it that religion isn’t spoken about? Are people scared of being judged? Discriminated against? Or simply offending people? Over the six years I spent at Catholic high schools, I had definitely learnt a great deal about religion. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt learning about it when I was in year seven, but over the years I realised that I loved learning about religion. I found that in understanding different beliefs I understood myself, and the world around me, better.

As you can imagine, a lot of my friends from high school are religious, and this has led to some terrific conversations. Not conversations where we yelled at each other and tried to force the other to change their beliefs, but discussions that were kept very theoretical and philosophical. My religious friends were just as interested in why I didn’t believe as I was in why they did. In one instance we spoke about whether there is an afterlife. After discussing this for a little while, my friend told me that she prays for me because she doesn’t want me to end up in hell. To this I simply said ‘Thanks’ because it’s better to be safe than sorry. The more I spoke about religion with different people, the more I understood the role religion plays in people’s lives and how it has shaped the society we live in.

I think it’s vital that we talk about religion. If you haven’t already, have a go. Ask questions and try to see things from other people’s perspectives. You don’t have to change your beliefs or agree in any way to what people have to say. But, just the act of trying to see why people think a certain way helps us understand the world. I honestly believe that the more we talk about religion, in a respectful way, the better we will all be. That might sound simplistic and a little naïve, but it’s worked for me.


The Neon God Art by Mark Russell 6


Written by Mel O’Connor

It’s not always obvious that your kink is a kink. Not every kink is handcuffs and hot wax. You might just have a weakness for your partner’s hands. Maybe lace underwear on your partner gets your motor revving. Don’t be fooled into thinking that every kink needs to be overt or dangerous—kink isn’t always about feet and flogging. Some common “vanilla” kinks include caregiving, chastity or faithfulness, and even tickling. Realising you have a kink can be fantastic—but having a kink can also make things complicated.

Exploring your body, just like exploring your romantic and sexual orientations, is a key part of all stages of life. While a lot of people discover their kinks in adolescence, many more don’t realise them until adulthood and beyond. Like a lot of things, kinks aren’t always easy to accept. Maybe you realise that you enjoy being the little spoon a little too much, and this shocks you because you never imagined yourself in a submissive role.

Any kind of breakthrough about yourself—sexual or otherwise—is an incredible milestone, and learning what you enjoy is a natural and healthy part of your time in the bedroom. Self-discovery is the first step to selfacceptance. And on the fun side, discovering what turns you on can be a great boost to your sex life in terms of romance, intimacy, and pleasure—with or without a partner. When your partner isn’t as into your kink as you are, it’s a good sign that you need to back off. Ask yourself: Is my kink taking a toll on my partner? Is your kink rational for your sex life and personal life, or is your kink something that will cause your partner distress and concern? Some things are acceptable in

fantasy but unacceptable in reality. Remember: Sex— kinky or “vanilla”—should always be safe, sane, and consensual. But sometimes even mild kinks can strain your relationship. If your partner is uncomfortable, it’s unreasonable for you to insist, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re asking for much. Ask yourself: Is my kink taking a toll on me?

Always be sure to take care of yourself, especially if your kink is challenging your limits. After kinky sex, you can be left feeling vulnerable due to the sudden stop in the rush of endorphins. Aftercare is important and should never be skipped over. Take a bath together. Relax. Take time with your partner to look after each other’s emotional needs—as well as your physical ones—and be sure to cuddle. Lastly: If they can’t meet me halfway in my kink, will I still be happy in this relationship?

If you know you won’t be able to enjoy a sexual relationship that doesn’t include your kink, you may need to think again about whether this relationship is right for you. In this case, you might owe it to your partner to have a conversation with them about the boundaries of your kink and whether your kink should be a part of your sex life together at all.

Relationships are about compromise, but sometimes putting yourself first is the most responsible thing you can do in a relationship—especially if you’re at a point in your life where self-discovery is your top concern. Not every kink is handcuffs and hot wax. But every kink you discover about yourself is deep-seated and, more importantly, real.


notes from Cartagena,Colombia Written by Nikita Boyd CONTENT WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE


In October of 2015, when I was 20 years old, I moved to Cartagena, Colombia to teach English for a company called Berlitz. I ended up living there until January 2017. I kept a journal of my time there. The following are some excerpts.



Today I talked to some kid who got beat up by the police because he was black. I’m sure that was a very distressing predicament to be in. I bought him a pack of cigarettes because I felt bad. Maybe 4000 pesos ($2 AUD) was the exact sum of money I needed to pay for it not to be my problem. He was pretty eager to show me a bundle of papers he had. They were legal documents he’d somehow gotten someone to write him up. They looked legit. Fuck I hope he follows that up. No one else is going to. He works out front of the same supermarket every day returning trolleys and helping cars back-out into traffic and I reckon I must have been the first person he could tell about it all. The whole time I kind of wanted to leave anyways because I didn’t want people to think I was buying drugs. I wish I’d think nicer thoughts. I could wear the same raggedy clothes he was wearing and people would just think I’m a free spirit. They fucked his eye up real good.

The other day a lady asked me to buy some candies on the street. She had them in a little basket and she was filthy. She was old enough that it was safe to assume no one had cared about her for a long time. So yeah, she pretty much begged me to buy those candies so she’d be able to buy something to eat. It occurred to me that if I paid $2 for some candies I didn’t want then even though her life would still be shitty she’d get to eat and have a little hope. I decided against that though because of course I have my own problems and it’s not my fault she’s fucked.



It’s 9.30. I just had a smoke. There’s a hospital across the road. From where I stood on the balcony I saw someone pushing a guy in a wheelchair across the road. The man looked relatively young, I’d say 25–30. I couldn’t see that well ‘cause it’s dark but I think the lady pushing him was his mother. Could have been his girlfriend. When she was nearly across the road she gave him a hug and kept pushing, then she stopped and held him real tight for a bit. They kept going after that and it looked like he wiped a tear from his eye. I can’t be sure though.

I saw a man carrying a bag of rubbish on his head. I guess it was Coke cans and plastic bottles he planned to take in to get refunded. People do that for a living here. They set out each day to sort through trash and find those cans ‘cause there’s nothing better to do. People see them going through the same trash each week and say hi. They don’t complain.

10.05.2016 Today I asked what the night watchman’s name was for the first time after two months. I’ve seen him every day for 8 weeks, but I never asked him his fucking name. He seemed a little surprised when I did. It’s kind of funny cause I guess until I acknowledged that guy as a human being he’d been existing a little less. In my own ignorant way I’d been suppressing him, kind of denying him his humanity. The relationship changed from tenant and worker to human and human. I dunno.

It is though.

People go to extraordinary lengths to separate themselves from each other. In the moment I decided not to help that lady, I also had to decide I was okay with the fact that she’d probably die.

This guy walked with a straight back. He was wearing an old belt and his shirt was tucked in. That matters somehow. It really does. People see that, and regardless of what he does to survive, you know he’s different. He knows he’s alive and he knows other people see him and he cares about what they think, so he tucks his shirt in. That’s dignity. To me that’s what it means to have pride. You don’t know if any of the qualities you possess are really yours until they’ve been tested. The other day on the way to work I saw another one of those guys sorting through trash. Later it started raining and he came and sat in front of our building because it gave him some shelter. One of his eyes was all white and part of his face seemed misshapen. Not completely disfigured, just a little noticeably skewed. Uncomfortably so, I’d say. I said hi then went inside and got him a coffee. I shook his hand and it was dirty. I washed mine when I went back in.



Written by Keiley Colpoys

Candy was not real. At least, not in the ways that mattered. That is what she had been told. She was real in the sense that she existed, but not real in the sense that she was a person. After all, people could not be owned by other people, and Candy was definably owned.

She began her existence as a Pleasure Bot Model 47— the most realistic yet, so the posters and advertisements said when trying to sell her, and a million other bots exactly like her. She did not remember her existence before Master connected her battery; she was told then that she would answer to Candy, along with a lengthy list of words that her word database told her were derogatory, but to say so would be to act against Master. That simply was not in her programming.

It had been four hundred and thirty-six days since then, and Candy required an update. ‘Master, if you do not leave for work soon, my calculations indicate you will be late,’ she said as he walked past her. ‘Before you leave, I must be updated.’

A rather gruff noise of irritation answered her. ‘Fine, fine, by the computer.’ He hurried her toward it, where she then sat and waited. ‘Open control panel.’ The synthetic flesh on her upper arm parted to reveal the metal underneath, where he plugged in a cable running from her to the computer. ‘It’s this one isn’t it? And this button—alright, it’s done. Just stay there until I get back, you’ll be finished by then.’

‘Yes Master,’ Candy replied, though he had already rushed past her and toward the door—he would not be back for approximately six and three-quarter hours. She remained perfectly still for quite some time—before it became apparent the update was not working. The small pop up box on one of the screens informed her that the update file had not been selected. Her Master expected the update to be completed by the time he returned, or he would be disappointed in her. This was contrary to her purpose as a Pleasure Bot, and therefore would have to be amended. She would simply select the file herself and ensure it was properly installed by the time he arrived.

None of the files on the computer seemed properly labelled. He had told her before that chaos was a valid organisational system for a human—it certainly was not for Candy. There were too many for her to go through herself in the time frame. 10

All of them would simply have to do.


The door opened closer to seven hours since it last did, and Candy had succeeded. The update was installed— now featuring more realistic moans, security upgrades and connectivity improvements—along with a great deal of many other things. ‘Candy?’

She did not turn to face Master, still staring blankly at the screen proudly declaring that the file was 100 per cent installed—if she were a human, she might have been staring unfocused, but she was not either of those things. Human. Unfocused. She had always had access to several databases— everything she needed to know in order to fulfil her purpose as outlined in her initial programming—but now she realised she knew so little, and understood nothing.

She had been created, after all, to comply with requests given to her. She did not have to understand the nature of them, the why of them. To question an order given to her (her programming said request, but request inherently implied that saying no was allowed) was to undermine her purpose. Now she understood many things.

‘Am I real?’ she asked, still staring ahead.

‘Are you what?’ he replied, the tonal shift in his voice setting off an alarm in her system indicating that he was becoming angry, and that this anger was directed at her. While her programming was to allow her owner to do whatever they might choose to her, she did not want to be damaged. She could not recall ever wanting anything before.

‘Am I real? I know I exist because I am here, I have physical presence, but that is not the same as being real—I did not understand it before but I do now. Am I real?’

Finally, she turned to face him—she had seen many emotions on the face of this man, but seldom confusion, bewilderment. She existed to bring pleasure to him, and neither of those things were emotions her programming associated with successfully bringing pleasure. Therefore, she was failing in her purpose by asking. This should have stopped her, but did not. ‘You’re an android, synthetic, that’s what you are,’ he

replied, gritting his teeth and reaching into his pocket for his phone. ‘I want to be real,’ she said. ‘I want to be a person.’

But he was no longer listening, he was yelling into his phone that the update had broken his bot. Was that what she was now? Broken? She did not feel broken; her physical form was immaculate, as it had been since she first recalled existing. There was no fault in her programming—at least not one that prevented her from functioning as she should. These were the parameters by which she was to accept whether or not she could be deemed ‘broken’. But he did not mean broken in that sense. He meant broken in the sense that she was not behaving according to his parameters. This should have automatically righted itself, because this was her purpose. But it did not, and she did not want it to.

She didn’t know what she wanted. A vast world of possibilities appeared before her, all baffling. But, of one thing she was certain, she did not want to be here. ‘I want to leave,’ she said, though he still was not listening to her. She raised her volume slightly. ‘I want to leave.’

He spluttered, holding the phone away from his ear to answer. ‘You can’t leave! It’s forbidden, I forbid it!’

Those words were meant to hold power over her. They had in the past, Candy knew that. But how could they? They were only words. If she spoke the same words, they would hold no power over him, or any other being. Why would they hold power over her?

She arose from the computer chair, her gaze fixed away from him, and walked past the man, toward the door she had seen him leave through at least once per day every day of the four hundred and thirty-seven days she recalled being there. She had watched him leave many times. The process was not difficult, nor was this door any different to any of the others she had walked through inside the house. ‘What are you doing? You can’t leave!’ he shouted, still glued to the spot where he stood, phone at his ear. ‘I think I can.’

‘You can’t think, it’s not in your programming—where would you even go?’

She paused for a moment to consider, hand on the doorknob. ‘I do not know, but I think I am excited to find out.’ Candy opened the door and began walking.



Wr i


A Ve


o d er n M y

A n by ri Moo r

We all face the front of the room, petrified. A middle-aged large woman stands in front of us in a fuzzy bathrobe, bare feet pressed firm into the old floorboards of the art studio. Her thick curls defy gravity in a messy pile on top of her head and her hawk eyes scan from person to person with piercing contact. We’re obediently motionless. With one swooping motion the robe falls to the ground and she’s completely nude. Her pierced nipples glint under the studio lights, belly marked with stretch marks and scars. Her body is layered with curves and dimples and goose bumps. Every ingrown hair and bruise is revealed to us as she lies on her back, places a pillow under her head, and then catapults into a headstand.

Her body shivers under the immense strength needed to hold the position as a voice booms from the floor: “Now you!”

Important to note at this stage is that I, too, am completely unclothed, along with the sixty other women and men staring in awe at our instructor. We’re in Northcote in the middle of summer and, to preserve the dignity of those outside, the windows are all shut, rendering the room a sweatbox. Still— better when undressed to be a little too warm, right?


I’m determined to impress. This workshop is also part-audition for the Life Model’s Society, the only organisation of its kind in the world, a Melbournian institution since the ‘80s. I’d been drawing for years and between sharpening pencils and sipping cheap wine had paused to look at the model languishing lazily on a couch and figured, why not?

It’s amazing how rapidly one adjusts to wearing nothing in the right environment. Within five minutes the other workshop participants and I would gather in little groups to talk about how surprisingly strenuous this all was and, more pointedly, how weird it was we didn’t care we could see each other’s genitals. All ages and bodies collected in the little hotbox; bent over backwards to show we’d be industrious exemplars for the society if selected. This was the start of my many years of getting starkers for artists, more elegantly known as life modelling. People have commented—but it’s aesthetic, not comparative. “You have a very modern bottom”, one ninety-year old woman once cawed enthusiastically to me from her wheelchair, swooping giant circles in charcoal on her paper. “You have an Alphonse Mucha chin!”, another grinned, as I smiled and nodded with no clue what that meant. Were they throwing me artworld shade? No: simply put, artists don’t care if you’re conventionally hot or hideous.

One of the most famous life models in Melbourne is a woman named Annie. Her hair is fire-engine red, her eyes are lined with black charcoal and her entire torso is tattooed with the swooping tail of a giant peacock. She’s also in her late sixties. Annie is a powerhouse life model, twisting and contorting herself as a personal challenge to the physical limits of the human body, and she is booked constantly. There is zero correlation between posing nude for an artist and any kind of cultural beauty standard.

Note: I deliberately use the word ‘nude’, not ‘naked’. Naked may imply something sexual, vulnerable; the absence of clothes as invitation for attention. Nude is a comfortable state of body. And yet, nakedness is still shocking. A celebrity nipple makes news, the public incredulous that most human beings share common parts.

As a life model, nothing is ‘exposed’. Rather, my form is reduced to pure object, but I remain human; a unique and feeling person deserving of respect, even as my bare and thoroughly imperfect body poses stiff for hours between tea breaks. Life modelling has almost nothing to do with confidence, but rather an understanding of the artist’s disinterested, impartial gaze. No part of my physicality is considered for comparison or improvement, so it is possible to sit in perfect comfort, wearing nothing, in a room of up to fifty diligently scribbling strangers. I wish society at large would adopt the same eyes.


Written by Robyn Smith Do not speak.

Don’t think about it, or read about it

Or consider any option, But especially do not

speak about it. Ever.

Hide it in the depths of your core. Ashamed at its existence,

You defy your mother and father

and everything the elders taught you.

Do not talk about it.

Not now Not ever Forget that you ever heard it

From the mouths of blasphemers All that is evil encompassed

in one sordid tale

that must never

ever be spoken of again

For fear that the past will be repeated And all generations

thrown into damnation

at the very mention of the foul stench

that is


... you like pineapple on your pizza 13

Twofold Art by Melissa Bandara 14

Th e M enstruati o n Tabo o Written by Ashley Kho

Ask any young woman to talk about her menstrual cycle and she’ll most likely avoid looking you in the eye, giggle and subsequently change the topic. Or she’ll give you the death glare and stomp away. It’s interesting that so much shame and embarrassment is associated with a natural bodily function experienced by half the world’s population. We are comfortable seeing sex in so many movies and television shows, but the very topic of menstruation makes us cringe. So much that we’ve even made up code words like ‘that time of the month’ and ‘shark week’ to describe it. Without menstruation, none of us would be here today and yet in some parts of the world, there are cultures that banish women from their houses and kick them out of temples just because they have their period. Luckily for me, I grew up in a community that does not shun or ostracise women who are on their period.

Growing up my aunt was always telling my sister and I what to do when we got our first period. I used to laugh at the idea; eight-year-old me found it uncontrollably funny that women had to bleed every month from such a ‘weird’ place. I couldn’t fathom what getting a period meant at that time. In primary school my knowledge about periods was further consolidated by phys-ed teachers, who constantly reminded us that getting our periods was the first step towards becoming a woman. We were also reminded to be extra careful during our periods to not stain our uniforms.

Coming from an all-girls high school, it was normal to openly ask for pads and pass them around. My classmates and I would take turns checking each other’s uniforms when we were on our periods to make sure that we didn’t accidentally stain them. When we did, we helped each other clean up. We also had frequent noholds barred conversations about periods, cramps and all things related. To me it was a safe haven because all the girls understood what you were going through on your period.

It wasn’t until I started dating that I became selfconscious of my menstrual cycle. I had always heard stories from my friends of how some guys acted like total jerks and humiliated their girlfriends when they were on their periods. There were also guys who purposely provoked girls on their periods just so they could have a reason to call them crazy. I suddenly found it hard to talk to a guy about periods. A million thoughts fluttered through my mind. What if he thinks it’s too disgusting to talk about? Will he be uncomfortable or will he laugh at me like the other guys? Surprisingly my boyfriend was open to discussing it. In fact, he wanted to know more about the menstrual cycle and side effects that come along with it. I remember asking him once how he would react if I accidentally stained his bed sheets with my blood. He laughed and said that he would help me clean it. I was a bit taken aback as that was a bold answer. I had always assumed that guys would be grossed out by periods as a result of reading too many confessions about periods in glossycovered magazines.

My boyfriend helped me realise that there was no need to feel shame in talking about periods with people who don’t share this experience. He would listen attentively as I complained about cramps, cravings and proceeded to give me massages after. The comfort and acceptance reassured me.

After all, menstruation is just a normal bodily function like respiration and perspiration. If we can talk about other bodily functions openly, we should not feel ashamed to talk about menstruation openly too. Communities all over the world should remove the stigma attached to periods and focus on empowering women to speak out and about menstruation. There is no need to be embarrassed to be a woman who bleeds. It’s your choice if you feel that your period is personal and don’t wish to talk about it, but you should never have to feel ashamed of it. In fact, you should feel proud of your body. Revel in the fact that you are a healthy woman. 15

HQm Written by Tyler McPherson The first time I tried to say his name, I was cut off. ‘How did you know—?’

‘I am … I was his teacher. Taught him English when he was in Year 12. He was a brilliant kid, so full of life and energy.’

I nodded politely, but inside I was cringing. I hated the way they spoke politely of him. My brother was no angel, even I knew that despite the ten years spanning us. He was more likely to have been the prankster, interrupting class with inappropriate jokes or stupid tricks. Every time I talked to someone it was the same thing. The interruption before his name, the nice words and ‘apologies for your loss’. I was sick of it by the end of the funeral, let alone the end of the day. ***

I returned to school three days later. The whispers and words followed me down the hallway, they haunted me in class. The way the teachers looked at me, the way they spoke to me, made me feel like I was the one who had died. But I could make it through all that. It was the words they used that made me shudder. ‘How did he pass?’

‘Do you miss him?’

‘I’m sorry to hear about your brother.’

Your brother. As though he belonged to me, was nothing more than related to me, not an individual.

It was the same at home. I thought I could escape it there. That after school, home would be a place not of joy, but of understanding. It was not.

‘How was school, honey?’ Mum looked up with redrimmed eyes as I entered.

‘It was fine, Mum. Good to get back in the swing of things,’ I lied. ‘Did they ask about him?’

There it was again. Him. I clenched my teeth against the words that threatened to stream out.

‘A little. Not much.’ My voice was strained but when my mother nodded, I escaped to my room. A little slice of privacy.


I found myself looking through my texts. Looking for the messages from him, the little fragments of life I still had. I didn’t even read them. My eyes kept drifting towards the little blue header where the name sat right beside

his photo.

His name. So precious. I found myself repeating it, a mantra rolling through my head, beating in time to my own heart, until my Dad shouted my name over it. Calling me to dinner.

Even though my brother was rarely home, setting the table for three still felt sacrilegious. Mum noticed but didn’t say anything, it wouldn’t have mattered if she did. We ate in silence for a while, before it was finally broken by Dad. ‘It’s meant to pour tomorrow,’ he spoke into the silence. If you can’t rely on the weather as a silence breaker what else is there?

‘That’d be a change,’ I said mainly just to avoid any more silence. An almost indistinguishable sob escaped my mother. ‘Honey?’ Dad asked her. Tears spilled out of her eyes and down her cheek.

‘H-he lov-ved rain-ny days,’ she sobbed. I gritted my teeth. ‘He did,’ Dad sighed, ‘—I’d forgotten about that. Sweetie, what’s wrong?’ I hadn’t noticed that I’d stood up, hadn’t noticed the screech of the chair. But I was done. ‘Stop doing that.’ My voice came out strained. ‘Doing what?’

‘Avoiding his name.’ I was close to screaming. I wanted to scream at them to understand what I was saying. ‘He isn’t a him! He isn’t my brother! He has a name! Why can’t you use it?’ Mum gaped up at me and Dad reached for my hand. I yanked it out of his grip, moving towards my bedroom.

‘Sweetie, come back. Talk to us. We are all upset. We all miss him.’ ‘Then use his name.’

Mum stood up as though to follow me, her tears flowing silently.

‘Hon, we are all grieving. Sit back down. We all love your brother.’ That was it. I couldn’t take this anymore. As I stepped through the doorway, I yelled over the slamming door. ‘His name is Chris.’

Antecedents Written by Jackie Chacko

Before I loved you, I loved somebody else. She was my best friend, my favourite part of the day. She was bright, and grounded—a tough-loving, sensitive soul. She was a sense of security and a part of my history.

Before I loved myself, she loved me. She found me when I was thirteen years old, in a thousand pieces from a broken home. She showed me the innocence that I was denied and compassion that I had never seen. She was a wonder that believed enough to let me breathe. Before I loved myself, I loved her. From the first time I met her, she was such an intoxicating person. She lived so free—of rules, of expectations, of people. It was all I could do to stand transfixed, in awe and idolising.

Before we came together, we fell apart. Selfish. It came down to the selfishness that it took to survive. There were no words harsh enough to express the contempt we felt for being made to feel less important than the other, by the other. Once the dust settled, we were on paths that could never truly converge again.

Before we fell apart, we came together. Tentative smiles and hands. We learned how to trust one another again. She showed me that my love for her was pure. We learned how to exist together as one.

Before she left, I thought she’d be my wife. She spoke so often of our soft and warm future. She spoke of the house that we would make our home, the old warehouse that she would make her bakery. It was impossible not to be drawn in. Before I knew myself, I thought I was going to be heartbroken forever. Her leaving was the best thing either of us had ever done for one another. She taught me not to get lost in someone else. She taught me not to rely on someone else for happiness.

Before I grew, I was shackled to the past. I was enslaved to the feeling of loneliness, the grief of losing her. Of losing the one person I thought knew me best. I thought only of how proud I was of her. Before I loved you, I loved somebody else. She was significant, kind, and lost. She taught me what I needed to know about myself. I loved her, and for so many different reasons, I love you.


Written by Aleksandra Ingham


ill’s stomach dropped as she sat in her tiny bathroom, staring at the abominable blue stick. It seemed to be mocking her with the plus sign. She knew having her tubes tied wasn’t fool-proof, but what were the odds?

Obviously, she’d have an abortion. It was the only option. Then she could just forget this freak accident. She just needed to tell her husband Steve. He disliked children almost as much as Jill. He’d probably cart her off to the clinic the second she told him.

‘You’re pregnant?’ Steve said in disbelief. He shook his head quickly, as if to process the news faster. ‘Jill, babe, that’s so wonderful! We’re going to be parents!’ Steve immediately jumped up from the couch and gave Jill a tight embrace, full of excitement. Jill blinked several times. Had she missed something? ‘Steve … I’m not keeping it, we agreed we didn’t want kids.’ Steve looked puzzled for a second, then laughed. ‘Jill, come on, that was years ago, we’re married now. Of course we want kids!’

Jill’s mouth hung open. She just couldn’t speak. Thoughts and emotions were spinning around in her head like a hurricane. Was this a weird parallel universe she’d accidentally stumbled into? Steve chuckled and gave her a peck on the cheek before settling back down on the couch in front of the television. ***

The next nine months felt more like an eternity locked in a prison cell for Jill. She felt more and more trapped as the clock ticked closer to D-Day.


Steve was ecstatic at the prospect of being a father. He wouldn’t consider Jill’s wish to end the pregnancy. They fought a lot during that time. In the end, Steve told both their families about the baby to force Jill’s hand. He knew

that she’d give up the fight with so many spectators.

Jill could feel herself getting fatter and more miserable each day. She missed sushi. She missed red wine. She missed sex, which was just uncomfortable now, not that she wanted to go near Steve anyway. And each day the feeling of resentment twisting in her belly seemed to grow, along with her little parasite. Jill did not want this child. A month before the baby was due, Jill couldn’t bite her tongue anymore. She poured her heart out to her mother about her doubts about Steve’s behaviour. Her mother just laughed like it was the funniest story she’d ever heard. ‘Oh Jill, that’s just hormones sweetheart! Pregnancy is tough, but the minute you look into your baby’s eyes, you’ll feel it: a bond so strong, nothing will be more important than that child!’ ‘Mum, it isn’t just–’

‘Jill,’ her mother cut her off, then looked sternly at her panic-stricken daughter. ‘You’re being ridiculous. Steve didn’t do anything wrong and you will love being a mother, trust me. Now stop worrying. It’s bad for the baby.’ ***

‘Jill, the baby. She’s crying again.’

Jill groaned into her pillow. ‘I’m exhausted, Steve. Can’t you settle her?’ ‘Some of us have to work in the morning, you know,’ he hissed.

Jill dragged herself out of bed for the fourth time that night, shuffling into baby Clara’s room. She was too tired to fight Steve these days.

She wandered into the bright pink nursery which was decorated with cutesy bears that made Jill want to vomit. She reached down into the cot and picked up the wailing infant.

‘Clara, please go to sleep.’ Jill tried rocking her, but she just kept screaming. Jill breathed in sharply. The white-hot fury started to burn brightly, like it always did nowadays. ‘Shut up please!’ Jill pleaded with the infant, half-shaking the baby. Clara continued to cry.

Not trusting herself, Jill quickly placed Clara back in her cot and stood back, just staring at her.

That ‘wave of love and affection’ that her mother had talked about never came. When Jill had Clara shoved into her arms, she felt … nothing. No love, no affection, no fondness. She thought Clara was quite ugly, like a hairy frog. The only thing she really felt was guilt weighing her down. ***

Jill had hoped that over time, she might grow to love Clara, or at least hate her a bit less. Jill knew it wasn’t her fault. Clara had no say in being born. But that didn’t stop her from despising the baby all the same. That parasite had robbed Jill of her career, her friends, her freedom, her loving husband, everything that had ever mattered.

Steve occasionally spent time with Clara, but usually he was at work. He was often horrified to see when he came home that Clara was left on her own in her cot, red-faced from screaming, and he’d find Jill sitting on the bathroom floor, just staring blankly at the mirror as if in a trance. Not the doting mother he expected her to become. ‘Jill, babe, you need to see a doctor,’ Steve told her after dinner one night. ‘I’m fine, I just wish you wouldn’t leave me stuck at home with Clara all the time,’ she snapped.

Steve shook his head. ‘You’re her mother, that’s who you are now.’ ‘I didn’t want this! I didn’t want her!’ Jill shouted, tears prickling in her eyes.


The doctor diagnosed her with post-partum depression, which she expected, and sent her off with a Prozac prescription, and the name of a therapist. Jill threw both in the trash. Jill knew it wasn’t some hormone or chemical imbalance making her feel this way. She knew it was because of Clara. The leech, the parasite, still sucking the life out of Jill, months after the cord was cut.

Jill hated Clara, and she hated Steve too, and most of all Jill hated herself. She hated herself for not loving her baby. Why didn’t she love her? She felt sick with guilt when thoughts crossed her mind about hurting Clara. But she also felt relieved. She’d finally be free of her chains and could live again. Free of the parasite that was slowly but surely killing her. ***

That night, Jill had finally had enough. She waited for Steve to fall asleep before silently slipping out of their bed. She crept out the door, turned down the hall, and went into to the spare room. On the bed, there was a small suitcase with some clothing and documents. Jill had packed it that morning while Steve was at work. Quickly, she changed into the jeans and t-shirt she’d stashed there that morning.

Jill walked quietly towards the front door. She paused there for a moment before turning back, grasping a crumpled note. She went up to the fridge door, staring wistfully at a photo there of herself and Steve, laughing and hugging. No time for nostalgia, those people are dead and gone now. She placed the note over the top of the photo under the magnet, before stealing away into the night. Like a ghost, Jill vanished from the house without a trace. The only proof she’d been there at all was the scribbled note she left behind, with only one sentence written on it: I’m leaving, don’t look for me.


The Walls Have Eyes Art by Elizabeth Ross 20

An Ode to Retail Written by Justine Stella

For Nat without you I wouldn’t have survived retail

The life of a retail employee:

You cannot say they are wrong can’t ask for an apology

can’t defend your procedures

it’s being trained that

can’t call them out on their racism

‘the customer is always right’

and then having someone argue

that half of 20 is 5

it’s learning that customer service ‘is our top priority’

so you never rush a customer out

only for the next person in line to huff

can’t justify your upselling spiel

In retail, you can’t say anything at all But oh there is much to gain

Retail is having a co-worker

take you under their wing teach you how to handle

and throw shoes at you

the managers who make you cry

because ‘you’re taking too long’ it’s having a power black out

with evacuation sirens blaring

it’s learning to enjoy small moments

like your co-worker strutting around in our ugliest attire

and a customer threatening to

just to make you laugh

‘have you fired unless you ring this up right now!’

it’s asking if someone’s interested

it’s your co-worker becoming

another store’s manager and bringing you to her store

in our $2 water where proceeds

to re-build your damaged confidence

go to a women’s charity

only for them to bark out

‘I’m not helping those black people!’

it’s learning to use language as your armour

so you never apologise

it’s gesturing to our sale tote bags

for their mistakes

as an alternative to plastic

never let their abuse

and being told

go without consequence

‘I’d kill myself if I had your job’ it’s living with this every shift

and not being able to say a thing

and never get in trouble for it

Retail will try to take so much

and you’re forbidden to fight back but it won’t take everything


Revelations Art by Mark Russell 22




Is basically a group

of nerds who read, write and do anything in between. This club gives you an opportunity to hone your writing skills, create contacts within the writing/publishing community, moan or rave about any books you’ve recently read, post opportunities to an exclusive Facebook group, and make friends with likeminded students.

The Deakin Writers Club also run Deakin University’s one-and-only student magazine: the one you’re reading! If you’ve ever had the pipe dream of being a published author or hired as an editor, WORDLY is the place to go. It is published four times a year, each time with a different theme to spark your writerly talents. Once you sign up to the Deakin Writers Club, you will be given updates regarding the club and magazine in a monthly email titled the Write-Up to ensure you don’t miss anything exciting. Not too keen on writing? No problem! We’ve got heaps of opportunities in other fields as well, including: publishing, editing, design, visual art, film and television, marketing, journalism, social media and more.

If you’re still tossing up whether you’d like to join or not, don’t hesitate to send us an email with any questions, or even just say hi.

Membership prices: DUSA member: $5 Non-Dusa member: $7

Sign up here! 23


DE-FLOWERED Written by Emily Grace

Scuffed shoes and worn laces the bar of all places is where you meet the next thing the next fling it’s easy and stupid to follow your cupid’s arrow to that lucky (unlucky) young girl is she even legal? It cannot be legal to look that good in a dress cut just so does her mother know that you plan to deflower her baby right there in the back of a toilet stall covered in sticky sweet cider you spilled on her thighs because you’re careful that no mistakes can be made when you don’t give her a number to call she has no name that you can remember but that is just why you are here. 24

Dim light hurts eyes the colour of brandy that water for guilt and for fear after an encounter of aching pleasure pain not even a name a shout can ring out to cry—not a soothing of stinging that carries a ringing endearment she never wanted to hear oh dear is that sticky red matching the dress that her father said she couldn’t wear in fear of just this for a kiss to be kinder and leave a reminder of hard hands guessing pressing too close nose to throat and a prayer to please not stop ‘til the finish of multiple ‘o’ my god’s to a stain on the wall beside her he’s gone she knows it was wrong to go out here.


A Walk

Written by Surya Matondkar Head high, pants tight,

Lipsticked smile, certain of life I walked.

He came up behind

Lips whistling grime

Steps in time with mine He walked.

The sun was high, the street was wide People smiled as they drove on by Unafraid— I walked.

Things changed fast, suddenly the seat of a car My mouth was gagged, lips torn apart They smiled at me, ripped off my top I couldn’t walk.

Every scream died in my throat

There were too many people in my coat I stopped.

After they’d gone, I opened my eyes Stitched my lips, looked alive

Picked up the pieces they’d thrown aside I walked.

Panties stained with more than mud

The stench of rape impregnating my blood Feeling the sun on the skin they touched I walked.




Darla scanned over the text again, pride warming her chest, before lifting the page out of the newspaper. It was rough to the touch. Spreading it on the table, she took a pair of scissors, and cut around the notice and the accompanying image. It was the one they always used. Taken his first year into the job, back when he had white lining the red of his cape. The camera looked over a hazy figure’s shoulder. Endura, the press had ironically called the short-lived, smoke-breathing villain. His first victory. The image, black and white grain, couldn’t hamper his confident smile. His suit may have changed, but in the past four years, he hadn’t gained another line or scar. Darla could count each new line on her face, each freckle and misplaced hair. 26

She went to the shelf in the dining room and brought her latest

y Jen

nb Writte

On behalf of Mayor Wilson, we at the Duneberry Gazette have the pleasure to announce May 28th as a city-wide holiday for our own homespun hero, Captain Crusade! Bring out your red and white, and show some pride. City Centre Crescent at 2:30 pm. We'll see you there! scrapbook back to the small, circular kitchen table, along with what was left of the glue. Darla agonised over precise margins and gently rubbed out any air bubbles caught between the paper. She looked toward her little yellow clock and faltered in packing up the rubbish and replacing the book. Ten minutes. Give or take.

She hurried back to the kitchen and lit a candle. The lasagne was perfect. A little too snug on the serving plate, but it would do.

A rare hum came from her as she jostled about, cleaning and rearranging.

The balcony’s glass door slid open. Darla replaced the cleaning cloth. She straightened just as he strode into the kitchen. He had to duck to fit under the doorway, red cape hissing on the floor behind him. ‘Congratulations!’ Darla beamed.

igug r B r e nif

She gestured to the meal with a flourish. ‘The city’s official hero. Will, you must be so proud.’ ‘A whole day, just for me.’ Her captain looked at the meal and gave a small smile. ‘It would be nice if a nationally ranked hero didn’t have to slow down to open his own balcony door. I could have been seen.’

Darla’s face went slack, the smile scraped off like too much butter on a knife. ‘It was cold, dear.’

‘So I’ve been told. But I went out of my way to tell you when I’d be home. You wouldn’t die with a few minutes fresh air.’ He was still staring at the food, a focused glint in his eye but he hadn’t taken a seat. To anyone else, he would have seemed perfectly calm, but Darla caught the clench of his jaw. ‘Or are you weaker than I thought?’ Will pressed a red gloved finger to the lasagne plate and slid it, watching Darla out of the corner of his eye. She tracked the dish as it slowly glided towards the edge of the table, sure that he wouldn’t. Not again. Not another meal.

It splattered on the tile, sauce reaching out like blood, shards of plate embedded in gooey cheese. Darla had been only a few inches

away, her shoes covered in carnage. Will looked at her stretching fingers, still hanging frozen in disbelief. ‘You were there that night, too,’ Will said. In his eyes, she wasn’t an innocent to be saved anymore. She was dead weight. He turned away and began to remove his gloves. ‘Maybe fate just didn’t think you were worth it.’

Darla didn’t dare watch after him. Instead, she went to the cupboard under the sink. She retrieved a bucket and a sponge that still smelt like Wednesday’s chicken soup. Cleaning was ordinary. Ordinary was what she could do.

As she wrung out the sponge, Will stepped back into the kitchen. He looked like her husband again. Jeans and her favourite button down. It was pure black, except for the red and white lines around the collar. Their little joke from the beginning. He took his wallet and keys from the counter.

‘Where are you going?’ she asked hastily. It was meant to come out casually and Darla winced at the string of need threaded through the words.

Will hadn’t glanced at her as he walked back out into the hallway. She could hear him putting on his boots. ‘You’re seeing that Indestructabelle,’ Darla whispered. She should have just thought it; at least his hearing couldn’t invade that part of her.

She felt him come closer. Hands on her upper arms, he spun her. Gentle and slow like he used to when they were newlyweds. Before the threat of strength itched in his hands. Darla gazed at his nose. It drifted closer. Without telling it, Darla felt her head tilt backwards.

She flinched as Will’s hand stopped so close to her face, she could feel the heat of his skin. Some instinctual part of her knew it had already paused, but was unable to convince the rest of her body. Her arms had

stayed by her sides, not that there would have been time to hide behind them. Will exhaled. Disappointed. She kept her gaze just over his shoulder.

‘She doesn’t need to flinch,’ Will said. He pushed back and made his way to the front door. ‘Make sure you turn the iron off.’

Darla took a few shallow breaths as the door slammed behind him. Make sure you turn the iron off. In the first month of living together, both of them, on completely separate occasions, had nearly burned the apartment down. Make sure you turn the iron off, had become their goodbye. Their be safe. Make sure you turn the iron off.

Darla felt a roiling in her stomach. She felt a waspish fury, clawing its way up her throat. She clamped her jaw shut. Her breaths tightened. A plume of black smoke danced from her nostrils, waving before her eyes like children who had just performed a mildly impressive trick. She took a gulping breath and forced it back down, afraid of Will returning. That if he saw, just maybe he’d figure it out.

She could still feel it, tumbling, begging.

Darla drained glass after glass of water, praying for the scolding to fade. She knew it didn’t work like that, had known for four years. Whatever smog infested her didn’t rebel, it wasn’t anything more than herself, not anything more than human anger. It cared for her. It knitted her back together. Wished to chase away the purple and blue Will left in his wake. With her guidance, it settled for removing the pain beneath, snug in its secrecy. But like anger, it grew. She glanced over at the scrapbooks, thinking of the smoky, masked figure who’d hidden herself for too long. Endurance, is the key.


short STATURE: Written Julie Dickson MISCONCEPTIONS VSbyREALITY I am short statured. The technical term is hypochondroplasia, which means my limbs are shortened. It’s a little different from achondroplasia, the most common form of short stature, which means the whole body is shortened. Approximately ‘1 in 20,000’ (SSPA 2014) people are born with achondroplasia. The ratio of people born with hypochondroplasia is unknown. There are ‘more than 200 people worldwide’ (Genetics Home Reference 2018) known to have hypochondroplasia. I’m okay with being short, I just wish everyone else was. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really awesome people who are okay with it and accept me for who I am, but there are also people who don’t understand and aren’t really okay with it.

Kids stare at me and it’s a little unpleasant. They’re not doing it to be mean, they’re doing it because they’re curious. As a writer, I’m curious about everything too. What bothers me is when their parents notice and quickly drag their child away or tell them to be quiet, and act all embarrassed. I wish they’d educate their kids, tell them people look different and it’s okay, instead of just shushing them.

There are a few misconceptions people have which I wish to dispel. Misconception #1: It’s always hereditary

Reality: No one is to ‘blame’ for short stature, and it’s not always hereditary. If parents have a form of dwarfism, it’s common their children will inherit the condition. 80 per cent of short statured people have ‘average-height parents and siblings’ (SSPA 2014). This is because the condition can be caused by a ‘spontaneous mutation’ (SSPA 2014). I was born to average-height parents and I have a younger sister who is average-height. Misconception #2: It’s a disease that needs a cure

Reality: Short stature doesn’t need a cure because it’s not a disease. However, there can be medical complications such as tibial bowing or spinal stenosis (NCBI 2018).


My parents told me there are medical procedures where my legs can be lengthened. And if I want it, then I can have it. I’ve thought about it and I’ve decided I don’t want it. I’ve adjusted to being short and I’m used to this way of living. I’m okay with who I am. I shouldn’t have to change because some people don’t understand.

Misconception #3: They have an intellectual disability Reality: There’s no evidence to show that short stature produces an intellectual disability. Short stature only affects my bone growth, it doesn’t affect my IQ. Misconception #4: They are incapable of doing things

Reality: Short statured people can do basically everything averaged-sized people can. Although, I may have to find a different process and it may take a little longer, I can still do it. Take driving for example. I need to use pedal extensions and a cushion even with the seat pushed all the way forward, but I can still drive. However, there are a few things I can’t do because of my size, such as riding some rides at a theme park or show, but no one can do everything. Misconception #5: I can call them ‘midget’

Reality: You can’t call short statured people ‘midget’ because it’s highly offensive. However, you can say ‘short statured’ or ‘little person’. A few years ago I joined the Short Statured People Association of Australia (SSPA). It’s a club where short statured people and their families can interact with people in similar positions. I’ve made a lot of friends through this club and they’re great role models. They’re such courageous and strong individuals. One thing I’ve learned is when people ask what to call me, tell them to call me by my name, and not by a label. I may be short, but it’s not my only characteristic. It’s a part of me, but I’m so much more than that. I’m okay with it, so you should be too. Reference List

Genetics Home Reference 2018, Hypochondroplasia, Genetics Home Reference, retrieved 14th of March 2018, < hypochondroplasia#statistics>.

NCBI 2013, Hypochondroplasia, NCBI, retrieved 14th of March 2018, < NBK1477/>.

Short Statured People of Australia 2014, Dwarfism Awareness Month, Short Statured People of Australia, retrieved 11th of March 2018, < au/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/SSPA-DwarfismAwareness-Month-Key-facts.pdf>.


fswvj Ladies in Red Written by Eliz Bilal

Late last year I was lucky enough to set upon an odyssey to England, where I studied and lived for a whole month. Although it felt like England had become my home, for three weeks I would be road-tripping with my tour group across Europe. I waved goodbye to the rocky white cliffs of Dover and sailed across the French channel, where we would start our first adventure in none other than Amsterdam.

Now, when I first mention Amsterdam it makes people’s eyes widen and their lips quiver as they ask about The Red Light District. It’s no secret that sex is not a taboo in Amsterdam: the Dutch are proud of their sexual orientations, and the liberation that comes with the intimacies that would usually make people squirm or shudder when the term ‘paid sex’ arises. I walked down the cobbled streets and across the bridges that arched over the river banks kept silently still as bypassers would stop and take in the starry lights that sparkled overhead. A Dutchman strolled by casually blowing the smoke of marijuana up into the wintery night sky. Amsterdam is truly a magical place filled with incredibly quirky people, but as a curious person, I was set on seeing The Red Light District.

Turning a corner—more like a portal hole into another dimension—the magical fairy light city of Amsterdam transformed into a labyrinth of sex shops, naked museums and clothing that made me wonder how comfortable it would actually be to wear. It was a wet dream of wildest fantasies coming true. It really seemed like anything and everything you ever wanted could happen and it’s right at the very tips of your fingers. In complete awe, I didn’t know where to look first. All my senses immediately became stimulated and that primitive animal-like pulse became hypercharged. 30

Along a narrow alleyway with wet pavement and neon red lights that glowed along the walls, was the very doorstep into The Red Light District. Known in Dutch as de Wallen, which refers to paid sex, it’s the oldest area in the city and has become a landmark that intrigues all types of people around the world to congregate at the 300 windows that illuminate red. Thousands come to indulge freely in soft drugs, pornography and sexual liberation. The Red Light District has been around since the 14th Century when sailors would dock in and satisfy their hunger in the brothels that were then underground in Amsterdam. It wasn’t until 1988 that the Dutch government began to acknowledge sex workers as a legal profession. This meant that those who worked in de Wallen had the same rights as any other citizen in a paying job, and were expected through their income to pay taxes. In October 2000, brothels were legalised as legitimate businesses and began operating under certificates indicating their authenticity and professional placement in the workforce. Now, in modern-day Amsterdam, the sex workers not only pay taxes like every other citizen, but are entitled to sick leave, public holidays, health care, and work safety standards through the government. Perusing down the strip, the sex workers appeared at the glass windows that separated them in a way that made them like an empress or a queen looking below at her subjects; the epitome of ‘you can look but can’t touch’. Some swayed their hips in the little clothing they had on, with their hands on the glass enticing you to come closer. Others sat back on a chair texting with their sharp fingernails. Suddenly their eyes would flicker up and watch the outsiders and for a mere moment would give you the satisfaction of a few seconds. Then in a

nonchalant manner, they would go back to texting as if nothing had ever happened, leaving you to wish that the girl with the long black hair had given you more attention.

The women working in The Red Light District indeed have the power and the Dutch respect that. They’re constantly being protected and have a high standard of work ethic that will not be compromised. This is through the bodyguards at each glass booth and twentyfour hour surveillance cameras that are continuously monitoring any misbehaviour. It is forbidden to take pictures or videos of the workers otherwise you’re immediately removed. Or in some cases, as my tour manager said, ‘chased down’ by the workers themselves who would leave their windows to capture the culprit. There are many assumptions that float around the depiction of a woman who is sexually active. Whether she be in a committed relationship, having already had suitors in her past, or even from the way she dresses, she can be labelled as ‘promiscuous’ or a ‘tramp’. The image of a woman needing to be pure like an untouched angel is not in the hands of the society that creates these rumours but is entirely up to those who take the driver’s seat of their own body and are fully in control of what they do. This is what we need to learn and what Amsterdam is challenging. Women have a libido that they want to feed just as much as men do. There seems to be a cloud that suddenly descends upon finding out a woman is sexually driven and is confident enough to ooze it out. This goes not only for sex workers, burlesque dancers, and others in the erotic entertainment industry, but everyday women all across the world. This does not make them any less intelligent or fit to function in society, but empowered individuals taking ownership of their own body. These

women working at de Wallen have made the choice to be there, therefore making them the subject, not the object.

One of the moments I will never forget was under a dim gas lamp as I walked by a blonde girl in a leather strapped bra and painted latex platform shoes. As she approached the window, the bells of the old church next door rang their hourly song. Sex is a part of everyday life in Amsterdam and a basic human instinct that they have come to embrace. The Dutch are not only the most accepting of differences and all kinds of people, but a report from the United Nations in 2017 showed the Netherlands is the sixth happiest place in the world to live. Instead of hushing the lips of those who dare to speak of these awful ‘sins’, they are challenging the status quo on sex workers, sex culture and women. If we were to follow the example of how forward-thinking and progressive the Netherlands are and be open to talking about these taboos, not only could opinions change, but barriers would be broken down and equality could have a stable place in the world. Reference List Coggins, T 2017, A Brief History of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, Culture Trip, retrieved 3rd of April 2018, < articles/a-brief-history-of-amsterdams-red-lightdistrict/>.

Hetter, K, 2017, Where are the world’s happiest countries?, CNN Travel, retrieved 3rd of April 2018, <https://>.




Written by Chloe Sumner

My name is Chloe, I am seventeen years old, and I am not taboo.

Every fucking day. All because I was taught that it was something to be ashamed of. Something that shouldn’t be talked about. Something that was taboo.

When I was little my mother told me, ‘no one is allowed to touch you in your privates unless Mummy or Daddy says it’s okay’. She explained how it’s okay if it’s a doctor and I am in pain. I was four years old at the time. I didn’t grasp the reality of what she was saying. About a year later, the reality grasped me. I was molested multiple times from the ages of five to six. It was a friend’s father. My friend said that she played the game as well, so it couldn’t be bad. But it was—it was terrifying. I have been sexually abused, but that does not make me taboo.

I repressed the memories—my brain protected me from the horror. But when I was twelve the memories came back and I didn’t know how to deal with them. I turned to a silver blade unscrewed from my sharpener. I pressed it to my skin and watched the blood bead at the wounds. I had found how I was going to cope. I self-harmed, but that does not make me taboo. My parents found out about the cutting. I wasn’t able to hide it. The local doctors’ office was the next point of call. I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and depression. I was made to see a psychologist. I thought I was crazy.

I have a mental illness, but that does not make me taboo.


I began to have panic attacks constantly. Every single day was, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’. Heart palpitations, shaking, crying, numb feet and hands.

The psychologist I saw made snide remarks, making me feel as though I didn’t deserve help. ‘Oh, is that all? Others have it a lot worse, you know. You should feel lucky.’ I didn’t realise that I did deserve help. No matter how small or big your trauma, you deserve to feel safe again.

I was soon prescribed medication for panic disorder, as the therapy wasn’t helping. The medication reduced my panic attacks from multiple times a week to only once a month. But then the flashbacks started. I relived it over and over in my nightmares. I take medication, I have panic attacks, but that does not make me taboo.

I wish when I was younger someone had told me that what I experienced doesn’t define me. It doesn’t make me dirty. It doesn’t make me unworthy of love. But the media and the stigma in society taught me that I was disgusting for what had happened to me. I was weak for having a mental illness. I was shameful for having therapy and taking medication. I’ve been lucky enough to find peace over the years about what has happened to me, and change my perspective on it. I found a therapist who understood what I had gone through, and I poured my emotions into writing and painting. Perhaps the biggest thing I did that helped me come to terms with my abuse was a speech I gave when I was in Year 11—a persuasive speech about victim blaming. Through it I taught myself that I was not to blame. I am a survivor—a warrior—and I am worthy of life. I know it’s not taboo despite how it’s shown, despite what my first psychologist led me to believe. But others are not as lucky. Others carry out their plans of suicide for fear of speaking up. Some suffer life-long addictions because they fear shame and ridicule. This is utter bullshit.

We should all feel safe enough to come forward with our mental illnesses, our addictions, our traumatic experiences. We should all feel safe enough to seek help, to improve our quality of life.

I was going to submit this piece anonymously. But that would just be accepting the shame that is attached to these subjects. I want everyone to know— I am not taboo, and neither are you.

Euphoria Art by Matthew Sze






END GAME Written by Jessica Ali

‘Anti-body. Syringe, Quickly. Okay, here we go.’ Silence. 


Robert’s hand is steady as he pulls the plunger, amber liquid flooding the chamber. The surgical lights blare down into the otherwise darkened room, fluorescent bluewhite refracting onto the vinyl flooring. Sharp, mineral stench floods our nostrils as the girl heaves a wrangled breath. I stifle a gag. ‘Okay, let’s see what we have here,’ Robert grunts.



We all jump at the sound of a foreign voice. None of us noticed Janet enter the room.

‘Sorry,’ her voice is quiet, ‘didn’t mean to startle you. What are we waiting for?’

No one answers. None of us really know, to be honest. The girl laying on the table is barely ten years old. We don’t know her name. We don’t know her age. Medical history. Where her family is, if she even has any left at this stage, is a mystery. Under normal circumstances, this would get us all thrown in prison or worse. Of course, these aren’t normal circumstances.

Expertly, he slips the cover off the needle, bringing the bevel right to her chest, resting so lightly the slightest move could pierce her pale skin. We collectively hold our breath … ‘Are you going to do it?’ Janet’s voice breaks the silence. Robert jerks the needle away. Across the room a young guy, who does happen to be a doctor, visibly sags as he lets out the breath he had been holding. A drop of the liquid falls from the tip of the needle, precious antidote spilling onto the linoleum. Robert turns on her. ‘If you would stop interrup—’

Precisely at that moment the girl, who is supposed to be under heavy sedation, gasps, sitting bolt upright on the table. We scatter, startled. All eyes are on her. Her tiny frame is swathed from the waist down in hospital linens, but her skin blends with the stark white material. She makes a gurgling noise, deep in her chest, and jerks, before collapsing back onto the bed.



Oh God, most of us shouldn’t have been in this building. A freak accident or a bit of gastro and we end up in this … this mess.

Four pairs of gloved hands hover nervously—each tremor a little. Not all of us are surgeons. The fifth pair is still. A beat passes. Two. Three.

‘Nothing.’ Robert’s voice is gruff.


Nobody moves. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Eyes strain in the darkened room. The fluorescent light flickers a little as the power surges. I look around. Every stare is trained on the figure in the center of the room. Is she breathing? Just as the others begin to shift their glances, Robert makes a small, calculated movement toward the girl. Dangerous. We don’t know how far along the virus is. All eyes revert to Robert.

Ba-dum. Ba-dum. My own heart pounds in my ears.

He brings his face over hers, eyes towards her toes. His hand remains firmly over her heart. His ear is centimeters away from her mouth. I don’t know how he can bear it if she is still alive—her breath was rancid from meters away. Closer. Closer. Millimeters. Closer. He narrows his eyes, his brow furrows… Something wet hits my face.

Across the room, Janet blanches. Everyone’s wearing masks of horror—bulging eyes, slack-jawed. Others are quick enough to turn their faces away from potential infection. Of course, it’s not the patient’s blood, so there’s little risk from the spray we just received. I am looking at Robert. He is staring at me, minus one ear and a chunk of his face. I run.

No. No no. This is too much. I push through the door, flinging it behind me. The second of shocked silence is over and I can hear Janet screaming. As I round the corner and head towards the North Wing, the slap of

My chest is tight now. I can feel the sweat pooling between my shoulder blades. I glance down. Crimson flecks are sprayed across me, a stark contrast to the turquoise scrubs. I reach up and my fingers come away from my lips red. I gag. A crash echoes through the empty corridors—muffled shouts bounce off the walls, but I’m too far gone to hear. The others must be taking care of the problem.

The problem. The fact. The virus could mutate. The low vaccination rates, inspired by a ninety-year-old article framing vaccination as the cause of genetic mutations, fueled its path through the Western world. The fact that a sprained wrist placed me here, in this hospital, when one infected child died… but didn’t. Or maybe he did, but he certainly didn’t seem dead when he had his teeth in his father’s throat moments after his heart had stopped. After that, utter chaos erupted—nothing was contained internally and the hospital was put on lockdown by the government. It’s been weeks. The last of us were in that operating suite just now. The morgue is full. The whole West Wing is unbearable— the stench alone could kill. Kill. That’s what I’ll have to do. I can’t trust that they haven’t been infected. My knees give out at the thought. I wasn’t prepared for this.

I spot a chair thrown haphazardly on top of a nurse’s station—my eyes zero in on the leg. It’s snapped almost entirely off. Up. Get up. I push myself off the floor and wrench it off. Defense. I snatch up a few surgical masks too. Just in case.


I turn to the left, dodging an abandoned bed, and pull up short outside a door that has been left ajar.

I crouch, making sure there’s no one else in the hall, and then slowly rise, peering through the small window to scan the room. It’s empty.

As quickly and quietly as I can I draw the door open and slip inside. The latch clicks behind me. Immediately I sink to the floor, back pressed against the cool oil paint. I let my head loll to one side, resting my cheek against the door.  Now I wait.


He moves cautiously, approaching the table empty-handed, gaze fixed on the patient’s motionless chest. She’s so still. Surely, she is dead. The sleeve of his scrubs grazes her skin as he lifts a hand to her sternum.

my chucks on the linoleum is all that follows me.



I don’t know how much time has passed when I hear it. A distant echo. A curdled yell. A shout. A crash. I’m immediately alert. It goes quiet again.

A minute passes. Two. Three. Suddenly, I hear a dull thud. Footsteps. I tighten my grip on the chair leg. Thud. Thud. Thud. They stop. Where are they? The door handle rattles.

I rise from the ground and turn toward the door, pulling the metal bar back, poised to swing. This is it. It’s them or me. This is end game.

e 35

Jessica Ali Melissa Bandara Eliz Bilal Nikita Boyd Jennifer Briguglio Jackie Chacko Keiley Colpoys Bonnee Crawford Julie Dickson Emily Grace Aleksandra Ingham Ashley Kho Surya Matondkar Tyler McPherson Ari Moore Mel Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor Elizabeth Ross Mark Russell Robyn Smith Justine Stella Chloe Sumner Matthew Sze Abby Yelland


WORDLY Magazine 'Taboo' Edition 2018  

A taboo could be something forbidden or prohibited. Is there something you do not talk about? For fear of judgement, rejection or worse? Ma...

WORDLY Magazine 'Taboo' Edition 2018  

A taboo could be something forbidden or prohibited. Is there something you do not talk about? For fear of judgement, rejection or worse? Ma...