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It’s Not Me, It’s Your Undeveloped Brain

Linked (Trisha D’Lima)

It has struck me over the past few weeks and months that the term ‘emotional immaturity’ is being misused and misappropriated to disguise inappropriate male behaviour. From my girlfriends’ breakups to President Trump, it seems to be reasonable to excuse men’s behaviour by relegating them to children. Strong women are being undermined by their wilful blindness; men are allowed to walk away from responsibility scot-free.

A few weeks ago, I sat at a St Kilda café watching my girlfriend cry over a cup of coffee after a bad breakup with her long-term boyfriend.

“It’s not his fault,” my girlfriend sniffed.

Through my murmured consolations, I had an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu.

“He just wasn’t ready. He just needed to do a little growing up, you know?” She continued.

And there it was. The reason this conversation seemed so familiar to me. I’d just had it with another girlfriend, in another country, about another guy.

Then, just as now, my answer was the same. No, I did not know what she meant. From my experience, age had nothing to do with maturity or a person’s ability to be in a viable relationship. It seemed to me that they were using age as a veil to dismiss their partner’s laziness, selfishness and unwillingness to engage emotionally.

As I thought more deeply about it, I realised that the ‘emotional immaturity’ excuse was a form of self-protection. Both breakups had been long and arduous, and everyone but the women in them had seen it coming a long way off. Both relationships had also been of significant duration, and the women had invested a lot of time and effort. They feared the social backlash of breaking up, so left themselves the option of one day having the fairy-tale ending – just when he’s a little older.

In an age of ever-increasing awareness of women’s independence and equality, it seems odd that poor and demeaning male behaviour is not blatantly pointed out for what it is. Instead, phrases like ‘emotional immaturity’ and ‘man child’, and even the popular psychology term ‘Peter-Pan Syndrome’, hide the truth at all levels of our society.

When President Trump was caught bragging about his shocking sexual assaults in October 2016, he released a statement dismissing it as “locker room banter”. Trump tried to justify his behaviour by comparing it to teenage boys. It is alarming enough that many believed that teenage boys are entitled to covert sexism, but Donald Trump is far from a teenage boy. At 71 years-old, it is beyond baffling why we allow a fully grown man to dismiss his behaviour by calling it childish.

This instance of infantilising Trump is far from a one-off. On the 15th of May, The New York Times ran the headline “When the World Is Led by a Child” and again on May 19th, A.V. Club ran the headline “Spoiled man-child Donald Trump to be served well-done steak with ketchup on overseas trip”. While it is obviously belittling to call Trump a child, it enables him to be held to a lower standard of behaviour. Men are the ones with the bad behaviour and women are the ones enabling it. Behind every Peter Pan, there is a Wendy, mothering him, forgiving him, and justifying his behaviour. In Trump’s case, there were many Wendy’s. 42% of female voters to be precise. As I sat opposite my girlfriends, I wondered if they could see the parallel between the widespread dismissal of Trump’s behaviour and their own actions.

We need to be less forgiving. Let’s get rid of the excuses. They are excuses made by men and by women. Call a man a man and a child a child. At the end of the day, this man-child/Peter Pan/pathetic-people syndrome is just another barrier that prevents equal relationships and hides abusers.

Age is not an indicator of maturity and maturity is not the realm of the old.

After all, growing up is not the cure for being a dickhead.

Artwork by Trisha D’Lima.
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Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut (Michelle Farralley)
For her Spring 2017 collection, the newly appointed creative director to Parisian fashion house Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri, sent models

A Woman’s Place is in Her Union

Women in the Workplace (Nicole Sizer)

A woman’s place is in her union. Not in the kitchen chopping onions.

Unions (author’s note: it’s not pronounced “onions”) and women (also not pronounced “onion”) seem inseparable forces nowadays, but it wasn’t that long ago that women had to fight to carve a space within the union movement. Just so everyone is aware, we really love unions. One time, Jess got this Ballarat Trades Hall polo from her dad, and even though it wasn’t that cool, I (Caitlin) wanted one too so I made my brother drive and get me one the next day. But back to the point. Women are awesome and the union movement has progressed immensely since they were first allowed to say the word union without a man’s permission (that’s a stretch but you get what we mean).

We will be only scraping the surface of the immense and undoubtedly important contributions women have made in the union movement. We also acknowledge that the history of the women’s labour movement has been predominantly written by white unionists. Women of colour and indigenous women have also been just as, if not more so, active and powerful in the labour movement. Just like men locked out women, white women also locked women of colour and indigenous women out of the fight too. Just like onions, the history of women in unions has many layers. So buckle in for some facts, some myths, potential hearsay, and us mostly just fangirling over women and unions and onions.

The world has always been one big boys club, and once, this was even reflected within the union movement. This isn’t to say the union movement hasn’t been an integral power for women, but in a reflection of the times, even women were had no space within Trades Hall. Men were everywhere (like literally everywhere, gross, like eating a raw onion), and so naturally they dominated another facet of life, unions (and onion farming too).

Focusing closer to home in Melbourne, a second home to many student activists – Trades Hall was once not a home for women activists. It was in the late 1880s that women unionists after a successful Tailoresses strike had built enough power and size to call on the Trades Hall Council to approve construction of a “Female Operatives’ Hall”. At this time, women still hadn’t won the vote, and couldn’t enter a public bar – or even a ladies lounge without a man accompanying her. Although still not granted a space within Trades Hall itself, the Female Operatives Hall was a win for female unionists of the time, and an important step forward for all unionists (and onion eaters).

These women unionists were at the forefront of many important pivotal movements in history. The threats of conscription during WWI, WWII and the Vietnam war, saw women, unionist and unaffiliated alike, come out in numbers to support anti-conscription and anti-war movements. 1916 saw a Women’s No Conscription demo and rally take place, where the 5,000 women marching swelled to a crowd of 80,000. As pro-conscription and war activists came to fight the women (onions may or may not have been thrown, we can’t confirm), male and female unionists alike came to their defence to protect them. Women were making themselves heard in great numbers, and finally, men were hearing them.

As men began coming to the table (potentially bringing onions) on women’s issues and equality, the women’s organising and separate unions amalgamated within men’s unions, and by 1960s the Female Operatives Hall was demolished as we all finally stood under the same roof in solidarity with each other for our shared and separate fights.

By the late 1960’s, two world wars had passed, which saw women finally entering all sorts of fields of employment. Zelda D’Aprano, a Meat Workers Union official within Trades Hall, began to take up the fight for women within Melbourne to take up the fight for equal pay. She chained herself and two other women workers to the Commonwealth building in protest, demanding to pay only two thirds the cost of a train fare since women were only paid two thirds of a man’s wage (approximately worth 4 onions if the conversion rates of the day are applied). Zelda was forefront in the pay dispute campaign, and with her establishment of the Women’s Action Committee, she believed women had to stand up and fight for their own rights because everyone else sure as hell wasn’t going to do it for them.

Just as we were in the 1880s, women are still incredibly active within their unions to this day, especially at their workplaces. In 2011, an ACTU survey found women were making up nearly half of all union membership, and were slowly tipping the scales within leadership roles, with 45 per cent of delegates being women. We’re still fighting to see women in higher levels of leadership within major unions. It’s nevertheless exciting to see amazing women such as Ged Kearney kicking ass as the President of the ACTU, and Sally McManus now punching down gender role walls as Secretary of the ACTU.

In closing, we really love unions, but we really want you to love unions too. The only way change happens is when people stand up for what’s right, when they become involved and have their voice be heard. Join your union, get involved with Trades Hall campaigns, become a delegate, fight for better rights for yourself and for all women to come after you! Add to the layers of history that is the Women’s Unionist Movement.

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The Monash Sleep-Out 2017

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The Monash Sleep Out is a student run charity event targeted towards raising awareness for youth homelessness. Every night, over 105,000 individuals are homeless, a quarter of whom are aged between 12 to 24. All proceeds from the night will be donated to STREAT, a charity dedicated to eliminating homelessness. Although this event is a fundraiser for a serious issue, the Monash Sleep Out will be anything but, with live music, activities and food provided, its going to be a night you wont want to miss.

STREAT is a charity focused on finding long-term solutions for disadvantaged and homeless youth. By providing work experience, training programs and short courses at their hospitality-based establishments, they have been able to help over 500 adolescent Australians find their feet and break into the competitive job market. Currently, the social enterprise offers 10-20 week programs and a Certificate I and II in Hospitality, all at no cost to the participants. The non-for-profit injects all the funds made from their six businesses back into supporting these initiatives and the subsection of the community so that they effectively aid. The work of STREAT is invaluable, assisting those facing a life of long-term unemployment in getting a leg up or a foot in the back door to a brighter and more promising future.

However, in order to both grow and sustain their amazing work, STREAT require grants, donations and the success of fundraising events. This is where the Monash Sleep Out comes into play.

The Sleep Out aims to network like minded people and create positive change within the community. Being supported by National Union of Students (NUS) and the Monash Student Association (MSA) giving the cause a generous donation, the charity event is already off to a great start. Headliners for the music acts will be soon teased out on the Facebook event page. A diverse group of speakers well versed in the intricacies of homelessness will also be discussing the challenges of said issue and will endeavour to debunk misconceptions.  This is an event with the primary focus on promoting inclusive, whilst being informative and fun.

As this is a charity event bring some spare coins to participate in the kindness jackpot with a chance to win! There will also be a puzzle corner, homelessness support wall, golden couch and street decoration. Education and support is the way forward. The food provided will be vegetarian and vegan friendly, as there is an emphasis on being all inclusive.

The Monash Sleep Out is on October 5th and begins at 7:30pm and will run later into the night. Early bird tickets are only $10 and are available to purchase online at the Monash Sleep Out website. There are also discount tickets for groups of 3 persons plus wishing to sign up together. Normal ticket prices are still only $13 dollars. Even if you do not wish to sleep out come down and donate, enjoy the vibes, participate in activities and show solidarity for our fellow young people.

For those sleeping out, the event will take place under cover and all details of items to bring will be listed on the Monash Sleep Out website. In the morning there will be copious amounts of coffee provided along with breakfast. A sweet deal considering tickets are only $10, and all proceeds will be going to STREAT.

All information about the event is on their website. Here you can donate, buy tickets and find out more about this event run by a group of passionate students.

 

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