What should Australia’s national anthem be?

On the “Today Show”, panellists talked about the Australian national anthem and if it was changed what should it be. Just for fun, I’ll offer a few suggestions:

1. Eagle Rock – Daddy Cool (1971)

Does this song need any introduction? Fun fact: Ross Wilson was the first concert I went to at the Commercial Club in Albury, NSW.

2. Solid Rock – Goanna (1982)

Written by someone who was born in Australia (singer/ songwriter Shane Howard was born in Dennington, Victoria). Plus, it is about Australian history. Then again, it may be too controversial and too divisive.

3. Land down under – Men at Work (1981)

Flute riff aside,  this song was written by Colin Hay and Ron Strykert. It’s mixed as in who was born here. Strykert was born in Korumburra, Victoria. However, Hay was born in Saltcoats, Scotland.

4. We can’t be beaten – Rose Tattoo (1982)

How can I leave out Rose Tattoo? Written by front-man, Angry Anderson (real name Gary Anderson), who was born in Melbourne. We need a bit of a pump – up song, don’t we?

If New Zealand was another state….

5. This time – Dragon (1976)

Written by brothers Marc (late lead singer) and Todd Hunter.

6. Computer Games – Mi – Sex (1979)

Written by late singer Stephen Gilpin, Kevin Stanton and Murray Burns. The first time I heard of this song was actually on the Countdown Spectacular extras DVD. How has computer games taken over so many people’s lives now? Except instead on an old PC, most people play them via social media (Facebook, Messenger) or on Ipads and phones. I’m no exception.

Bonus one: I Still Call Australia Home – Peter Allen (1982)

How can I not add this one? If I’m honest, I’m not a big fan of this song like the others, but it’s undeniably iconic. Written by the late Peter Allen, this song is an ode to Australia, which, I think many people would agree, that this country needs. For those who live here, we are lucky. Very lucky.

 

To Australians, if you could pick a song for our national anthem, what would it be? Feel free to comment your thoughts below. 

Yassmin Abdel – Magied ANZAC controversy: Nauru and Manus debate to be had but not on ANZAC Day

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ANZAC Day is a sacred day in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate soldiers who have fought, died and have come back forever changed.  Image: Craig Dingle, iStock

 

 

ABC presenter, Yassmin Abdel – Magied came under fire for Facebook post linking ANZAC Day to Nauru, Manus and conflicts in the Middle East. She has received heavy criticism from a number of journalists.

Rita Panahi has slammed the comment as “spectacularly stupid” and “offensive”, but argues that she shouldn’t be sacked just for the comments. Yet, Panahi, has pointed out a lack of consequences for Abdel – Magied and compared it to the sacking of Natasha Exelby after she was caught not paying attention on the job. It was only after protests that the ABC backtracked their decision and reinstated Exelby.

Should Abdel – Magied be sacked? I’m with Panahi on this one. My answer is no. And to be honest, I think a debate can be had over the West’s involvement in the Middle East and offshore processing (which, if I’m honest I’m not a big fan of).

But yesterday was not the day. Yesterday was meant to be about commemorating past and current serving men and women from World War I onward and the price that they paid. I also think it’s about also remembering those who survived the conflicts, but were forever changed – those who suffered PTSD and other mental disorders due to what they’ve witnessed and those currently serving in conflicts.

I think it’s also about remembering the families of those who are left behind: husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Because, while they may not be in the front line, their lives will also change forever.

It’s also about remembering the nurses and doctors who helped the injured and traumatised. They too, would have been forever changed – seeing the devastation, death and not to mention the health risks they themselves faced, such as dysentery and other airborne diseases.

 

That’s what I believe we should have remembered yesterday. This is what it’s about. To over – politicise the day brings a great disservice to all those who fought, struggled, suffered and died while defending the values that Australia is so well – known for – mate-ship, democracy, freedom to live in peace and free from tyranny.

 

Like Australia Day, I also think it’s important to acknowledge how far Australia has come: the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women in ANZAC Day marches, inclusion in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the proper recognition for those who fought in the Vietnam War should all be recognised. Like many other parts of Australia’s history and culture, we are making progress. Not perfect, but in progress. Leave contentious political issues (again, worth debate) for another day.

For those in Australia, what does ANZAC Day mean to you?

Abuse can’t be accepted by Christians

Church building
Image: Canva

 

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

 

If this post has brought up any issues, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you’re from another country, feel free to leave numbers of any counselling services in the comments below. 

“The Simpsons” turns 30

It’s been thirty years since the hit animated sitcom, “The Simpsons” debuted in the U.S. I can’t believe it. What an achievement!

I grew up watching “The Simpsons”. Here in Australia, it’s been featured on “Channel Ten” (now on Eleven), for years and years. It used to be on weeknights at 6 pm for, I don’t know how many years. Plus, episodes use to get played on the weekend, too. That includes endlessly repeated episodes.

I’ve also seen “The Simpsons Movie”. It’s good. I’ve never been overly keen on the Halloween episodes. Not sure why, just like the regular ones.

Favourite episodes

Hmm, favourite episode… That’s a bit of a hard one. There are so many to choose from, but I do have a few favourites. One of my all – time favourites is where Homer realises his mother is still alive and is a fugitive. Here’s one of my favourite scenes from it:

Another one I liked I actually studied at school in Year 10. It’s where Homer gets paranoid about having gay local shop keeper and about Bart’s sexuality

When Homer tries to be a hippy… with disastrous consequences, of course.

Of course, Bart, even though he is (eternally) only ten, he has a mortal enemy, Side Show Bob. Yet, they become allies when Bob’s evil brother tries to kill them both. Even though Bob saves Bart, he still gets arrested. Life’s just not fair for some, eh?

 

“The Simpsons” still manages to make an impact on pop culture. What a legacy! I guess it still reflects Western society today, as it did back in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, and people can relate to the characters: a child who’s too smart and crying for recognition, a boy who has behavioural problems, the underappreciated housewife, etc.

 

It goes to show that, quite frankly, people are slow to learn – about prejudice, how reliving the “old days” tends to backfire and how, unfortunately, the education system is failing children that need help the most.

Apparently, there’s an episode about “safe spaces” online. I’ll have to check that out.

 

I don’t think “The Simpsons” is going anywhere anytime soon. It’ll remain a staple in pop culture both here in Australia and in the U.S. for years to come. With it’s biting humour and relevancy, how can it go wrong?

 

So, happy birthday, “The Simpsons”!

 

What are your favourite “The Simpsons” episode?

Safe Schools being dumped in New South Wales – predictable and a lost opportunity

New South Wales Education Minister, Rob Stokes will cut off funding for the controversial Safe Schools Program after June 30. However, Mr. Stokes has also said that the program will be replaced by a holistic anti – bullying program, with input from teachers and principals of private and Catholic schools. This decision has recieved some praise on social media:

 

Personally, my feelings about Safe Schools have been mixed. When I first heard about the program, I was skeptical, then when I looked at the resources, including the ‘All of Us’ booklet online, I thought maybe it wasn’t a bad idea. What I liked about it was the fact it went beyond the gay/ straight dichotomy. I never understood the role playing exercises, though. Then, it all became a farce. The program’s founder Roz Ward said that the Safe Schools was deliberately about sexuality, gender and anti – Capitalism. Much of the information is arguable, to say the least and The Australian alleged that students were being interviewed about their sexuality without parents’ knowledge or consent.

There has also been concern about the content being taught in preschools and primary schools, with critics arguing that the it sexualises children. When the program was reviewed last year, the primary school curriculum was deemed inappropriate and was taken out all together. Despite concerns, some State premiers, like Victoria’s Daniel Andrews has hard – headedly latched on to the program, with plans to make it compulsory in all Victorian high schools by 2019.

 

I am so disappointed tbat this has gone down the way it has. I firmly believe that there is place for high schools to openly discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community and offer support LGBTQ+ students and their families. I can say from personal experience that being bullied because of your sexuality is hard. To be honest, I think what makes it harder than other forms of bullying is the fear of rejection and self – loathing. With the inclusion of asexuality and other members of the LGBTQ+ community being recognised. To be honest, it may have made a few years in high school a little bit easier.

However, I don’t think the program was done correctly. Skewing data and turning such a sensitive issue into a political manifesto doesn’t help anyone. Also, I don’t think it should have been labelled an ‘anti – bullying’ program, when it was proved to be more. Also, I think parents and guardians should not have been left in the dark about content or activities, including any research activities that were to take place (surveys, interviews, etc).

 

Maybe a holistic anti – bullying program would be better than one that solely focuses on LGBTQ+ students. But I still say, correct information needs to be given to teachers and other staff to assist LGBTQ+ students. Students should know withiut a shadowvof a doubt that they’ll be supported and teachers and counsellors should be armed with correct information, including on asexuality (I know I keep bringing it up, but it’s something I do feel strongly about).

 

How do you feel about the Safe Schools program? If you’re against it, what do you think can replace it?

Yes, words do matter

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Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. Emotional/ verbal/ cyber abuse is just as devastating as physical abuse

Content warning: bullying, mentions Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting

“Sticks and stoner may break my bones but words can never hurt me”.

Hands up anyone who has heard that. I’m sure we all have, both as children and adults. Words are often described as “just words”. Nothing. Just water off a duck’s back.

But words do matter (I’ll get to an actual scientific explanation in a second). Victims of emotional abuse, either by peers, by a partner or family member knows this all too well. You feel vulnerable. The more it goes on, the more your self – esteem gets eroded. In the end, you end up believing the lies.

An area that people are starting to grapple with is online abuse, particularly on social media.While there are a number of laws in Australia that make things like stalking, harassment and defamation online an offence, in 2014, anti – bullying campaigners said that police were not trained enough to deal with these cases. Too many complaints were being dismissed.

According to Daily Mail Australia, Adelaide woman, Maxine Pratt, 31, has to face court after she abuse Adelaide Crow’s player Eddie Betts on Facebook. She could possibly be charged with using a carry service to menace, harass and offend. She has since denied that she was being racist and, as a part – Aboriginal (her words), she didn’t find ape references offensive.

Effects of emotional and cyber abuse

A few days ago, I watched a mini – series on Iview, “Cyberhate”, by former model, Tara Moss. On one of the episodes, she went to see a brain specialist to ask about the impact on the brain when being exposed to abuse online. The findings were shocking. Abusive messages affected a similar region of the brain that causes physical pain.  (If you are in Australia, I’d encourage you to look at the series through IView. It’s very informative, but also confronting. Be careful if you have any underlying issues or are triggered by discussions – and quite graphic and brutal incidence of verbal, cyber and homophobic abuse. The Orlando shooting last year is also referenced).

BrainFacts.org confirms that bullying can have a major impact on brain development in childhood, even going as far as saying it has the same effects as child abuse. The short – term and long – term effects of bullying are well – known: depression, anxiety, drug and drug and alcohol abuse in adulthood. It also causes stress, which, if bad enough, can leave the immune system compromised. Bullying victims can also become perpetrators themselves, creating a cycle of victims and perpetrators.

So what is the solution?

From what I watched from Cyberhate, just being stricter on cyber – bullying legally may be easier said than done. What makes it complicated is that, according to the series, a number of self – confessed “trolls” often (not always) show signs of an anti – social personality  disorder, including psychopathy. They may exhibit Machiavellianism; one of the so – called “Dark Triad” along with psychopathy and narcissism.

 I think the law plays a part, but so does psychiatric therapies to help treat those suffering from anti – social personality traits. However, the Harley Therapy Counselling Blog does warn that those who have Machiavellianism are unlikely to go and get treatment on their own accord, so, the only solution I can think of is court appointment when an offence, including cyber offences occur. For offenders who do not suffer any form of psychiatric or personality disorder, there does need to be consequences, including, I believe legal repercussions. Fortunately, young people are more aware of cyber bullying now and its repercussions on both the perpetrators and the victims, since they are talking about it more in high schools. Are the warnings strong enough? I’m not sure.

I think the place we can start is get rid of the “sticks and stones” myth. Words do matter. Words do have an impact. Bullying of any sort should be condemned and treated seriously.

What do you think can or should be done to combat cyber – bullying? 

(For Australians): If this post has brought up any issues for you, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. For people of other countries, feel free to put any numbers of mental health services in your country, please comment below.

Gender stereotypes and the role of popular culture in portraying attitudes

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Should Snow White be analysed for portrayal of gender stereotypes?

The Victorian State Government has come under fire for the “Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships” has come under fire again for allegedly encouraging children as young as three to see if fairy tales are sexist. According to news.com.au writer and Mamamia Editor in Chief, Jamila Rizvi, the Andrews Government is not banning fairy tales, but is encouraging children to look at fairy tales critically and see whether they enforce gender stereotypes.

If Rizvi is right, that’s not a bad idea for older children, not three, four or five. Children this age should be able to read fairy tales or other stories for recreation, without having to think too much about sociological issues.

Hearing and reading about this debate has got me thinking about fairy tales, especially Disney’s adaptations and their impact on society. I grew up watching “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Cinderella”. I always wanted the videos like one of my cousins did (I did end up getting them). How did it affect me growing up? Apart from wishing magic wands and magic carpets (i.e. from Aladdin) were real, it never really had an impact on me.

 

In terms of attitudes about gender, we have to realise that the times in which they originally came out. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in February 1938, while Disney’s adaptation of Cinderella came out in 1950. Apart from women starting to work due to the Second World War, gender roles would have been traditional… or at least that’s what was expected. These films were made before the Civil Rights era in the U.S, so even having a mixed – racial marriage would in film would’ve caused a backlash. What I’m saying is I think before we condemn fairy tales for being “sexist” or even “hetero-normative”, it’s useful to keep in mind the period and, quite frankly, the pressure Walt Disney and other writers, cartoonists, etc at the time would have been under to tow a line to be deemed appropriate.

IMG_0465
Disney’s Cinderella. Released in 1950

Disney tales and the 21st Century

Having said all that, growing up with Disney, I’ve also realised that the 1990’s and 2000’s have seen an expansion in story lines created by Disney cartoonists. Not all follow the prince/ princess narrative or portray gender stereotypes. The two I can think of immediately are Mulan (1998) and the four Toy Story movies (1995, 1999, 2010 and scheduled for 2019), and Frozen (2013).

For those who don’t know, Mulan is about a young Chinese woman who takes her father’s place in fighting the Hun army and save China. To do this,she dresses and pretends to be a man, (although, sometimes unconvincing, I must say). She fights with the men, along with sidekick dragon, Mushu, and becomes a hero, even after she is exposed for who she really is. She does fall in love with the captain, Shang, but only after she fights the Hun army and saves Shang’s life after he is wounded in battle.

Disney/ Pixar Toy Story series (which I’ve seen one and two), is largely about family, friendship and belonging. Apart from Bo – Peeps massive crush on Woody the cowboy doll, the first and second films are more based on the friendships between Woody, Buzz Light-year the spaceman figure and Jessie the cowgirl (in Toy Story 2). Toy Story Two deals with issues such as belonging, fears of abandonment and friendship – all issues that would be appropriate for educators, parents and teachers to talk about to their children.

While I haven’t seen it, I heard creator Chris Buck talk to One Plus One host Jane Hutcheon about the intent and the focus of the hit film. He said that the main focus of the film was about the relationship and love between the protagonist, Princess Elsa and her sister, Princess Anna and their reconciliation.

I can’t see why children couldn’t be exposed to both the traditional Disney fairy tales and the modern ones that break the fairy tale mould. At least it’ll give them more than one perspective if that’s what you’re worried about. Most importantly, let kids be kids. If a child expresses troubling behaviour, then address it, get Department of Community Services (DCS) involved if they are showing signs of abuse. Fairy tales are not to blame for that. And children’s entertainment shouldn’t be treated with such scrutiny from adults.

What are your thoughts? Did you grow up reading and watching Disney movies? What were your favourites?