Love Letters To Feminisms

Nadia and I had an excellent time this afternoon at ‘Love Letters to Feminisms: a live performance of feminist texts’. Organised by the Loving Feminist Literature collective, the event featured several writers, poets, academics, and performers who shared their works and the works of other feminists.

The performances were powerful and emotional, and each one resonated strongly with everyone in the room.

Nadia was one of the performers and she read a piece that honoured the Pakistan women’s movement and all they’ve achieved over the last few decades.

Nadia performing at ‘Love Letters of Feminisms’, alongside an Auslan interpreter

Bonus: the event was held at the Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray, which a lovely venue that looks great in selfies :)

Selfie in front of the Bluestone Church Arts Space on Hyde Street in Footscray.

Seriously, though, it was a joy to be among so many diverse and enthusiastic feminists in Melbourne. I look forward to attending more of Loving Feminist Literature’s events in the future.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's Chinese New Year concert

One of the highlights of this week was watching the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) annual Chinese New Year concert.

This year’s East Meets West show was all about “symphony meets rock ‘n roll” and it featured the MSO and Beijing-based Mongolian rock band Hanggai.

If you haven’t heard Hanggai before, here’s one of their songs they performed (accompanied by the MSO).

Support Lisa-Skye's MICF Safety House Guide!

I love live comedy, particularly stand-up comedy. So one of the coolest things about living in Melbourne is the annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF).

However, for various reasons, Nadia and I don’t attend too many MICF shows. The ones we do attend, then, we’re very picky about.

Basically: we don’t want to watch performances by bigots, racists, misogynists, assholes, and so on. You’d think that in 2019 you’d be hard pressed to find people who make those kinds of jokes on stage. But, of course, you’d be wrong.

One of the best ways to avoid attending a show at MICF that’ll make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe is by checking Lisa-Sky’s Safety House Guide.

Here’s what she has to say about this on her Safety House Guide 2019 Pozible page:

In 2017, I noticed a theme among people who came to my shows - they'd tell me they loved seeing my shows every year at festivals, but didn't want to 'risk' going to other shows, for fear of being the punchline of jokes. They weren't just scared of hearing tired old material bashing who they are (fat jokes, sexworker jokes, racist jokes...) but a few of them were hesitant about audience participation, even when the artist had the best intentions.

And I thought, stuff that - everyone should feel safe to enjoy seeing live performance. 

My favourite thing is showing cool stuff to cool people, and promoting good work from performers with an ethos based in kindness and diversity. So at last year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I created the first Safety House Guide. 

Lisa-Skye’s Safety House Guide for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Lisa-Skye’s Safety House Guide for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Nadia and I have already bought tickets for a few MICF shows this year (including Judith Lucy and Hannah Gadsby - yay!) but we’re not going to get any more without consulting that guide first.

If you’re someone who’ll want to use this guide – or even if you’re not, but your recognise how valuable a resource it might be to others – please consider providing financial support to it via Pozible. Nadia and I have already pledged to do so. Lisa-Skye is going to produce this guide regardless, so let’s help her our as much as we can.

Making International Women's Day events in Australia more diverse

If you work in corporate Australia you’ll know all about the various events (usually panel discussions) that businesses tend to host or participate in around International Women’s Day (IWD).

As Cathy Ngo writes, most of these events aren’t particularly “diverse”.

But the problem I see with many IWD events, is that they look a little familiar. The venues may get fancier to attract corporate sponsors, but the line-ups are too often far from diverse. You tend to see the same career narrative presented: often from white middle class women, with backgrounds in journalism or TV.

I’m in no way downplaying the achievements of the speakers and panellists – but it doesn’t exactly reflect society’s broader career-pool and life experiences. An event where we are meant to celebrate all women’s progress and achievements, can quickly become a celebration of white, able-bodied, heterosexual, middle-class women’s experiences.

This, of course, shouldn’t be the only experience we consider when it comes to gender equality.

Observing gender-equality through a solo lens, only allows us to see one angle. It excludes a huge percentage of women who have a completely different lived-experience but whose stories are equally valid and critical to a more nuanced conversation. As a society and in the workplace, we must ensure our gender inclusion policies and practices are made with those who can give voice to the lived experiences of all women.

If you want your event to have more diverse representation, multiple points of view, and a discussion of different lived experiences, check out this article that Ngo wrote for Women’s Agenda (which is where that quote above is from): ‘Speakers, organisers & attendees: Here’s how to make IWD events more diverse’.

I’m on the working group that’s organising this year’s IWD events at Transurban. We know from experience and surveys that IWD events aren’t particularly interesting or useful to attendees if they can’t relate to the people who are speaking or presenting. So we’re actually using some of the ideas from that article to make our speaker line-up as diverse as possible. I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with!

<random aside>

Also, is it just me or does the #BalanceforBetter pose look like a smiley-er version of the shrug emoji?

Compare the official photo/social media pose for this year’s IWD theme:

To the shrug emoji:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

</random aside>

Instagram wrap-up: January 2019

Here’s what I shared on Instagram in January 2019. (ICYMI, starting this year I’ll be cross-posting everything I post to Instagram to this blog.)

Maggie

We had a super hot start to 2019. Maggie, being a very Australian dog, loves the heat.

It's going to be 42 degrees today.

[@nadianiaz, hanging up the laundry] It's *thoroughly* unpleasant outside.

[Maggie, an Australian cattle dog] It's perfect.

When the weather is nice, though, we all like to hang out in the garden.

Afternoon nap in the garden with Maggie. (Yes, yesterday it was 42 degrees here. Today it's a top of 19. That's Melbourne for you. That's also why I love this city.)

Maggie loves her rope toy.

Maggie recommends a slow and steady deconstruction of your rope toy. "Take your time and pull that thing apart thread by thread," she says.

Events

January saw the start of #SlowSummer on SBS.

All set for a #SlowSummer with the Indian Pacific on SBS :) #SlowTV #sundaynight

Nadia and I went to the Australia Open tennis tournament, where every year we take a selfie.

Annual Australian Open selfie with Nadia :)

Melbourne went through three-ish heat waves in January. The last series of hot days ended with rain showers across the city. I work on the 29th floor of a building in the Docklands that has great views.

Gap in the clouds at sunset from Docklands, Melbourne.

Selfie

I finally got around to buying a quality Panama hat. Which, of course, meant that I had to take a selfie while wearing it :)

Yay, quality Panama hat! Been wanting one for years. Literal h/t to Gentleman's Gazette for the purchase inspiration and City Hatters Melbourne and Avenel Hats for the actual hat :)

The NBN is 62% faster in our new house!

This time last year we finally got connected to Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN).

Doing so dramatically increased our average download speed from 6.9MBps with ADSL2+ (over the old telephone copper wire network) to 46.7MBps with NBN (over a new NBN fibre optic connection to the closest telephone/internet exchange).

A little over a week ago we moved into an independent house in another suburb. This meant we were no longer sharing that fibre optic internet connection with the other residents in an apartment block.

I checked to see if this had increased our connection speed and, sure enough, our download speeds have gone up by 62% to 75.7MBps!

Woohoo! 

Pro tip: If you’re looking to move house and, like me, can’t live without the NBN, check out the nbnm8 Chrome extension. When you use realstate.com.au and Domain to search for properties it’ll automatically do the nbn availability look-up for you :)

We're finally connected to the NBN!

On 23 June 2014 I tweeted this:

But it wasn't till yesterday, 15 December 2015, that we finally got connected to Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN).

Yes, this took 1 year, 5 months and 22 days

What was particularly irritating was that our neighbours got connected several month ago. It took us this long because we're in an apartment building. Which meant that, first, our Body Corporate had to get their act together and network our building — which they finally did at the end of October.

We then had to wait till iiNet, our prefered ISP (who we've been with for over six years), released their Fibre to the Basement plans for selling NBN services to individual apartment building residents. 

Once all these pieces fell into place, though, things moved quickly. And, six days after the NBN became available to us, we were online:

We're now enjoying download speeds seven times faster than our old ADSL2+ connection (an average of 46.7Mbps with NBN versus 6.9MBps with ADSL2+) and upload speeds thirty-one times faster (27.6Mbps now vs 0.9Mbps previously). We're also connecting faster, with an average ping time of just 2.5ms with NBN vs 27ms with ADSL2+. 

It's awesome.

Of course these speeds aren't as fast as the NBN can theoretically reach ("up to 100Mbps") or as fast as my internet connection is at work (average downloads at 64.3Mbps and average uploads at 86.9Mbps) — but it still pretty darned good. And it's more than enough for any video streaming we want want to do.

So, yay! The NBN was a long time coming, but it was sure worth the wait.

Picking an AFL Team to Support

I've been in Melbourne for almost eight years now and it's about time I picked an AFL team to support.

How Do You Pick a Team?

There's lots of advice on the web about how to pick a team: 

There's also this infographic from Reddit (from December 2012) which is both useful and funny:

Plus this thread for the 2014 season:

Brand Associations

All that is good advice but I think there's a quicker and easier way for someone like me to choose a team: using the power of brands and brand association.

So here's what I did:

  • I went to each team's website and looked at the list of their partner brands - both sponsor brands who support the team financially and support brands who provides the team with goods and services
  • For every brand that I liked (i.e. for which I'd be a 'promoter' on the NPS scale) I gave that team a +1 score
  • For every brand that I didn't like (i.e. for which I'd be a 'detractor' on the NPS scale) I gave that team a -1 score
  • I ignored the brands I didn't have strong feelings for or wasn't familiar with (i.e. for which I'd be a 'passive' on the NPS scale)
  • I then added each team's +1s and -1s and gave them an overall score - a 'net positive brand association score' of sorts

This is the result (sorted by highest-to-lowest score, then alphabetically by team name):

So, if I was to choose a team by brand association alone, then the team I'd be supporting is the Sydney Swans, with the Brisbane Lions coming in second. 

(I've kept my scoring here really simple, by the way. Had I wanted to do a more sophisticated analysis I could have first given 'principle', 'major', and 'premier' partner brands higher positive and negative scores and 'associate' and 'support' partners lower positive and negative scores. Of course this would have given undue importance to brands that simply had more marketing money to spend. So next I would have looked at each brand's annual revenue and marketing spend as a proportion of annual revenue and tried to undo some of those effects. And I might have introduced a 'sponsorship proportion' multiplier for each brand. That is, if a club had twenty partners instead of ten, each of those twenty brands would have had half as much proportional weight. There are many more things I could have done but I'm not feeling particularly nerdy this weekend. I'd rather watch TV or browse Reddit.) 

The brand I like the most from that list, by the way, is iiNet, which is a Hawthorn partner. But the brand like the least is Swisse, which is also a Hawthorn partner. So those two pretty much cancelled each other out. Oh well. 

So, there you have it. After living in Melbourne for almost eight years I now tentatively support the Sydney Swans. Go figure. 

Next Steps

Now that I've reached a tentative result, I need to research the Swans and watch some of their games. If I'm going to support them seriously I need to know much more about them. I need to learn about their players, their coaches, their history, and so on. 

A quick skim through their website has been positive: 

  • They're all over social media and even have their own mobile app - though I suppose this is pretty standard for sports teams in this day and age
  • There's nothing untoward about them in the news - at least nothing I could find when I searched for 'Sydney Swans controversy' on Google News
  • They have two clubs for their female supporters - one in Sydney called L@SS and one in Victoria called LOL (both names I like)
  • They have a Black Swans Supporter Group
  • They have a blog series called 'Swan Songs' in which they talk to past great players called 
  • They have player blogs, one of which was actually updated in 2014

I'll now keep an eye on them and report back if all is going well and if I'm going to continue to support this team.

Till then, go swannies!

Save the Ferris

Wearing my 'Save Ferris' t-shirt

“Save the Ferris” he says, enunciating each word carefully, trying to sound less tipsy than he actually is. He belatedly ends his statement with a rising intonation, making it a question. He gestures helpfully at my t-shirt.

I'm tired and I like my happy-drunk people to have greater pop culture awareness. But we've only just crossed the eleventh floor and the lift isn't very fast (new hotel, old building) so I can’t pretend I haven’t heard him.

“It’s from a movie,” I say. “From the 80s. Called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

He looks confused. “Oh really?”

“It was quite popular in the 80s,” I add.

“Yeah man,” his friend chimes in, “haven’t you seen Ferris Boomer’s Day Off?”

I smile helpfully in their general direction.

He thinks for a minute but, just as he says “No,” the doors open and two more people walk in. We descend in silence for a while, but the newcomers are getting off at the mezzanine, so soon it’s just the three of us again.

“Save the Ferris,” he repeats. Once again adding the “the” that isn't actually printed on my t-shirt. He says it more thoughtfully this time – his brain cells working hard but still drawing a blank.

“You should watch it I say,” as we the doors open at the lobby, “it’s a fun movie.”

That’s apparently an excellent suggestion because he beams at me and says “I’ll do that,” and since this is goodbye, “Have a great night!”

“You too!” I respond enthusiastically. Then I buy a fruit cup and head back up to my room to finish the presentation I'm working on.

Just another night at the Gold Coast.

Mapping My Social Networks: Facebook, LinkedIn

Following on from my post on Immersion, the Gmail metadata mapping tool, I learnt of two other tools that map Facebook and LinkedIn metadata (i.e. your social graph). David Glance mentioned them in his article in the Conversation about the power of metadata ('Your social networks and the secret story of metadata').  

This is what my Facebook social graph looks like:  

What's cool about this network mapping is that, because people share a lot of information about themselves on Facebook and the tool knows who my friends-of-friends are, you can see one level deeper and find sub-networks within my broader social graph. Many of these are high school and university based sub-networks but some are also immediate-family groupings. 

The social graph that's probably cooler (and certainly prettier) is this one from LinkedIn Maps: 

This shows you that I'm connected to four major networks, one each for my two universities (LUMS and MBS) and one each for the two places I've worked at the longest here in Melbourne (Melbourne Water and Jetstar). 

And even though Jetstar and Melbourne Water are in completely different industries the kind of work I did (and am still doing) in both jobs is similar so the crossover space between their two clouds is where all my suppliers, vendors, and industry contacts are. 

One thing I've noted while doing all this mapping is the size of my network on each platform:  

  • Gmail contacts: 478 
  • LinkedIn connections: 505 
  • Facebook friends: 505 
  • Twitter followers: 776 

That's reasonably consistent and certainly above average for each of those social networks. I suppose that's a good thing. 

 

Immersion: Mapping My Email Networks

I've spent the last few days playing around with Immersion, a fabulous email network mapping project from MIT's Media Lab.  The project's creators describe this as "a people centric view of your email life" and what the tool basically does is create a network map of all your Gmail emails using the From, To, Cc, and Timestamp fields. 

Who Have I Been Emailing? 

You can can learn a lot from these maps. For example, here is what my email network looks like from April 2004 to July 2013. (I do actually have email from 1999 onwards in my Gmail account but, for whatever reason, Immersion only mapped my email from 2004 onwards. )

 

The person I emailed the most during this period was Nadia. After that, the network of people I emailed the most was my family. Obviously Nadia is also heavily connected via email to my family network. She is also connected with our Melbourne friends network and, to a smaller extent, my MBS (MBA) and LUMS (BSc) classmate networks.

The two other networks of people I emailed the most were my work colleagues at MBS and my other freelance jobs. 

Digging a Little Deeper

That's a high-level view but you can also divide this 2004 to 2013 date range into three distinct periods in my life.

The first is from 2004 to 2006, which is when I was living in Islamabad just before I came to Melbourne to do my MBA:  

Nadia and my family are obviously the largest nodes and network of nodes here, too. Aside from that, my LUMS classmates, my music projects (Corduroy and the F-10 1/2 project), and my other projects (earthquake relief) all have identifiable email networks of their own.

A couple on specific nodes are also interesting. Mosharraf, one of my seniors from LUMS and also a work colleague, is a connector of networks. And, on the upper right hand side, you can see my email correspondence with MBS starting to play a bigger role. 

The next period, from 2006 to 2008, is while I was doing my MBA at MBS: 

Here my MBS classmates network is a huge part of my emailing. That network also overlaps with the MBS staff network - from my emails to and from the Careers Centre team and my work colleagues from when I worked at MBS for a few months before graduating.  

Emails to my LUMS classmates have dropped of quite a bit, though I was still emailing Amanullah quite regularly. 

Finally, here is what my network looked like after I completed my MBA, that is from 2008 onwards:

Now a new network has popped up: my Melbourne friends outside of MBS. And, thanks to Facebook, I don't email my LUMS or MBS classmates as much as I used to.

That's really cool, isn't it? :) 

Summary Stats

Immersion also gives you a summary of your email stats, including who your top 'collaborators' are (and, if you want, you can also drill down further into your connections with each of these collaborators).

These are my overall stats and the stats for my two top collaborators: 

Yes, that's 20,879 emails with 194 collaborators over 9.3 years :)

My most active email sending years were 2007-2008, which was when I was doing my MBA. My most active email receiving years were 2010-2012 and I think those were because of Nadia, my family, my Melbourne friends, and various mailing lists. 

The group of people I email has stabilized over the last few years so the number of new collaborators I've been adding has dropped considerably. That's also because my Melbourne Water and Jetstar work emails aren't in Gmail so they're not counted here. 

Finally, the two people I collaborate most with are Nadia and my older sister Asha. I like that I've sent Nadia over a thousand emails, of which about two-thirds were sent just to her. Meanwhile I've sent Asha only 515 emails. Of those 137 were sent just to her, which makes sense because she's part of that big family network. 

So there you have it - my life in email.  

If you use Gmail you should check Immersion out yourself. It's fun to use and you can learn a lot about yourself and your email networks in the process. 

Online content & services worth paying for

I get a lot of ‘free’ stuff from the Internet – everything from news and entertainment to email and online storage.

By 'free', of course, I mean ad-supported (in most cases) so while I do technically pay for these services with my time, attention, and user profile data I don't directly pay for them in cash.

There are, however, a bunch of online services that I do explicitly pay for with my own money.

Paid Services

These include services you can't access without a subscription, such as:

I only recently signed up with MOG, by the way, and chose to pay them over their competitors for two main reasons: they stream high quality music (320kbps over WiFi and 4G) and, since they’re a Telstra partner, streaming music from them doesn’t count toward your mobile data bandwidth. Being both an audiophile who values high quality music and a Telstra mobile customer both of these are excellent reasons.

Payment Optional & Freemium Services

The other online services I pay for/contribute to are the kind that you can access for free but can also support financially if you so choose.

These include the news, information, and editorial services like:

With the exception of Wikipedia, to which I donate annually, the rest I support through automatic monthly micropayments.

The freemium services (products, really) that I pay for include:

  • Online information management from Evernote
  • Online photo storage from Flickr

Oh, and depending on how Fairfax rolls things out, I’ll probably subscribe to The Age Online, too, once they set up their paywall. And, speaking of news outlets, I also used to subscribe to the Economist but, much as I loved their content and editorial, I wasn’t getting enough of a return on my investment.

So that’s my list. What online services – content services or products – do you pay for?

More About Transport Maps: London & New York

Earlier this month, in a post about the upgrade of the Melbourne tram network map, I mentioned that I really loved the London Underground Tube map and the MTA New York Subway map.

Underground MTA logos

A lot has been written about these maps so I don’t have much to add but here some information are bunch of links about them that you might find interesting.

London Underground Tube Map

Let’s start with the Wikipedia entry for this map which summarises its origins:

The first diagrammatic map of the Underground was designed by Harry Beck in 1931. Beck was an Underground employee who realised that because the railway ran mostly underground, the physical locations of the stations were irrelevant to the traveller wanting to know how to get to one station from another - only the topology of the railway mattered.

...

To this end, he devised a simplified map, consisting of stations, straight line segments connecting them, and the River Thames; lines ran only vertically, horizontally, or on 45 degree diagonals. To make the map clearer and to emphasise connections, Beck differentiated between ordinary stations (marked with tick marks) and interchanges (marked with diamonds). The Underground was initially sceptical of his proposal - it was an uncommissioned spare-time project, and it was tentatively introduced to the public in a small pamphlet in 1933. It immediately became popular, and the Underground has used topological maps to illustrate the network ever since.

This is the map that started it all: It was a proper transport system infographic and not a route overlay (underlay?) drawn on top of a geographically accurate aboveground map.

Here’s what the map looks like today:

London tube map

You can read more about the Underground map on the BBC’s h2g2 website and can see images of it through its history on the Guardian’s website. There’s also more detail about it’s history (till 2002) here.

For something more awesome, check out:

Oh, and if you’re interested, you can get the actual, current map from here.

MTA New York Subway Map

Again, let’s start with the New York Subway’s Wikipedia entry which has this to say about its map:

The current official transit maps of the New York City Subway are based on a 1979 design by Michael Hertz Associates. The maps are not geographically accurate due to the complexity of the system (i.e. Manhattan being the smallest borough, but having the most lines), but are known to help tourists navigate the city, as major city streets are shown alongside the subway stations serving them. The newest edition of the subway map, which took effect on June 27, 2010, reflects the latest service changes and also makes Manhattan bigger and Staten Island smaller.

Part of the reason for the current incarnation is that earlier diagrams of the subway (the first being produced in 1958), while being more aesthetically pleasing, had the perception of being more geographically inaccurate than the diagrams today. The design of the subway map by Massimo Vignelli, published by the MTA between 1974 and 1979, has since become recognized in design circles as a modern classic; however, the MTA deemed the map was flawed due to its placement of geographical elements.

So New York is one of the few large cities whose subway map is more closely tied to its aboveground geography. In his 2006 New York Times article, ‘Win, Lose, Draw: The Great Subway Map Wars’, Alex Mindlin had this to say about why Vignelli’s simpler but geographically inaccurate map didn’t work:

Although designers love to discuss why Mr. Vignelli’s schematic map didn’t fly, no single theory has emerged. The graphic designer Michael Bierut, however, suggests that New York’s street grid was to blame.

“Londoners are actually unclear about how close one stop is to the next,” he said. “But a lot of Manhattanites could tell you authoritatively how long it would take to walk from Fifth and 28th to Seventh and 44th. So the geographic discrepancies in the Vignelli map, which are no more than those you find in lots of subway maps around the world — they’re just glaring.”

Bierut actually explained the problem with Vignelli’s map more thoroughly in his own article on this topic in 2004 (the 100th anniversary of the New York Subway system):

[Vignelli’s map] was a design solution of extraordinary beauty. Yet it quickly ran into problems. To make the map work graphically meant that a few geographic liberties had to be taken. What about, for instance, the fact that the Vignelli map represented Central Park as a square, when in fact it is three times as long as it is wide? If you're underground, of course, it doesn't matter: there simply aren't as many stops along Central Park as there are in midtown, so it requires less map space. But what if, for whatever reason, you wanted to get out at 59th Street and take a walk on a crisp fall evening? Imagine your surprise when you found yourself hiking for hours on a route that looked like it would take minutes on Vignelli's map.

Here’s what the map looks like today:

subway-web_click_May11

For more about the map’s history (as well as that of the the subway system itself), check these out:

Another good website on the New York City subway is, of course, nycsubway.org.

For something more awesome, though, check out:

Of course, if you’re interested in the actual, official, current subway map, you can get that from here.

Melbourne Maps

For more about Melbourne’s transport maps (both tram and train), check out these links:

Other Maps & Things

If you’ve reached the end are are still reading, here are some more good links to check out:

Photos from SlutWalk Melbourne

So today we took part in SlutWalk Melbourne (which I wrote about earlier).

The only half decent report on the Melbourne walk is here but I’m sure there will be others over the next few days. The really good accounts (i.e. the nuanced and non-snarky ones) will, inevitably, be published in blogs.

We started outside the State Library of Victoria on Swanston Street with a few speeches:

The one by Cody Smith was particularly inspirational though others made really good points as well, such as:

"It shouldn't be the responsibility of survivors to educate people about rape."

"It is not the responsibility of women to educate people on sexism"

"If you come from a position of privilege it should be your responsibility to educate yourself and your friends."

Lots of people were carrying awesome protest signs, like this one from James:

And this one from someone standing behind us:

After the speeches we walked down Swanston and Collins Streets to Parliament Gardens. Here are Scott, Nadia, James, and Andrew:

And here are me and Nadia once we got to the gardens:

If you’re curious about the “Hornet’s nest of revolutionary feminism” t-shirt I’m wearing, you can find out more about that on the Tiger Beatdown blog.

(Also, you can see a few more photos from this walk on my Flickr profile.)

Sadly, while the walk made an important statement, raised a lot of awareness, and was lots of fun to participate in, my cold didn’t react very well to two hour out in the cold so I got home a little worse for wear. I’ll definitely be sleeping in tomorrow!

A big thanks to the walk’s organizers and volunteers for making this happen; Samurai AV for the sound system; Victoria Police for coordinating our movement through the CBD; and everyone who turned up today (both in person and in spirit).

Here’s hoping this walk – and, indeed, this whole movement – has a genuine, long-term impact that reduces incidents of victim blaming and slut shaming. If nothing else, the walk has got us all talking about theses issues and that, in itself, is a good thing.

SlutWalk Melbourne is on 28 May 2010

In case you haven’t already heard, SlutWalk Melbourne is at 1:00 PM on 28 May 2010 in front of the State Library on Swanston Street in the CBD.

What’s it all About?

For a quick introduction, here’s what the Melbourne protest’s organizer, Clem Bastow, said about SlutWalk in The Age earlier this week:

The "SlutWalk" phenomenon began in January this year, when a group of Toronto women organised a protest following a local police officer's comments (to university students) that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised".

The organisers' stance was simple: to call for an end to victim-blaming, the idea that victims of sexual assault or rape could somehow be blamed for their attackers' actions based upon what the victim was wearing or doing at the time. Was the victim dressed skimpily? Were they intoxicated? Did they have a large number of sexual partners? Yes? Oh well, that explains it then.

In addition, the walks protested against a culture of slut-shaming. As the founders put it, "Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault."

Why Attend?

Nadia wrote a really good blog post about the whole SlutWalk movement which mirrors my own feelings on this topic:

…If you get sexually assaulted, NOTHING you were wearing or were doing is going to be good enough. There will always be some moron going on about how you shouldn’t have gone there or done that or worn such-and-such or had a sexual or professional or intellectual history. The bottom line is that we live in a global society that believes femaleness is a fault and that if something happens to you, well then that’s just what you’re going to get if you insist on existing while female.

So yes, I’m going and I’d encourage anyone of any gender and any orientation who can attend to do so. Because this isn’t about one kind of woman or one kind of world view or even women as a group. Victim blaming and a culture that allows and even expects it are toxic for all of us, whoever we are and wherever we are. It is important then that, when handed the opportunity on a silver platter, we lend our voices to the protest against it.

I recommend you read the whole blog post and I, too, recommend that you attend at the protest walk.

Also, please don’t “slut up” or dress up for the walk. Women get abused, sexually assaulted, and, yes, called sluts regardless of what they do and what they wear. I think it’s important that people of all types, wearing all kinds of clothes attend the protest dressed as they normally would in order to highlight the diversity of people who are willing to stand up against victim blaming and slut shaming.

More Information

New Melbourne Tram Network Map

I love infographics and have a particular fondness for really good transport network maps. So I was very excited when, last week, Yarra Trams (Melbourne’s tram operator) launched a new version of their tram network map.

Old vs. New Map

Here’s the old network map:

Yarra Trams - Old Tram Network Map

And here’s the fantastic new one:

Yarra Trams - New Tram Network Map 2011

A little application of colour goes a long way, doesn’t it? :)

One Colour Per Tram Route

This addition of colour – specifically, the assigning of one colour per line/route – is an excellent feature that is used by the best transport maps from around the world. Certainly my favourite transport maps – the London Underground Tube map and the MTA New York Subway map – both use this visual cue. So I’m glad Yarra Trams (YT) have added it to theirs. (More on those other maps in another blog post.)

The cool thing is that YT are highlighting this change via a really good marketing campaign (or would you call this a change management campaign?).

For example, yesterday they were handing these out at the Flinders Street tram stop on Swanston Street:

New Tram Map Marketing Campaign

The information in the booklet was useful (an Android version of their awesome tramTRACKER app is coming soon!) and the jelly beans were delicious :)

Route Maps Inside Trams

YT have also gone a step further and placed colour-coded route maps inside trams. Through this, travellers have easy access to more detailed route information for the tram they’re currently on:

Route Maps on Trams

The complete network map is also available on a nearby wall, of course.

All in all, I’m thrilled with this latest instalment of KDR’s “TRAMSformation” of Yarra Trams.

Further Reading

If you like this sort of thing, do check these links out:

‘On Her Shoulders’ - International Women’s Day Documentary (UN Women Australia)

‘On Her Shoulders’ is a short documentary commissioned by UN Women Australia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

The message to young women is: You might think you're equal but, mate, you're not.

You earn less, you earn less per hour, you earn less over your lifetime. You do a heap of unpaid work because somebody's got to do it.

You don’t run things, you don’t decide things…so don’t have the illusion that you’ve got choice.

Eva Cox

UN Women Australia commissioned a short documentary to be made to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day. 'On Her Shoulders' follows the history of International Women's Day and the struggles women have faced. In addition, it looks at what still needs to be achieved to ensure that gender equality can be fully realised.

Microaggressions Blog

Nadia recently told me about the Microaggressions blog that, as the name suggests, publishes microaggressions.

The cool thing about this blog is that it publishes user-submitted stories (microstories?) and doesn’t limit them to just racially motivated encounters (which is what the term was originally coined for).

The blog is a great place to vent so, if you have any episodes to share, please do so.

My Experience

The kind of microagression that I come across most has to do with my language abilities:

[Usually spoken in a surprised and attempted-complimentary but actually-patronizing tone of voice] “Your English is really good!”

English is my first language but there are always people who will assume that, because I’m from Pakistan or because I don’t look like the dominant Caucasian population, that couldn’t possibly be.

Though, since:

  • I am male, largish in size (fat, not muscle, unfortunately), and whiter than the average Pakistani (so I don’t look “typically” South Asian);
  • my English is really good; and
  • I look and dress like a geek (sneakers, comfortable jeans, geeky t-shirt, Casio watch, glasses, bald, goatie…again, not “typically” South Asian)

not too many people say that to me directly.

The second most common one is to do with the numerous stereotypes people have of South Asian women. I won’t go into that here because…well, that can be a long story.

What Happens Next

The Microaggressions blog is great because it gives you a place to vent. But what’s sometimes more interesting is what happens after the initial exchange.

If you recognize what just happened you then have a choice of what to do next. You can:

  • do nothing and move right along,
  • react aggressively in return, or
  • make this a “teaching moment”.

What you choose depends on:

  • which of those options are actually open to you at the time (e.g. if you’re in large auditorium and the person making the presentation makes such a statement so you can’t do much till question time at the end),
  • how charitable, ticked off, or angry you’re feeling (which, in turn, depends on who made the statement and how they said it),
  • how many times you’ve heard that statement before in the last few days,
  • how tired you are of reacting to similar statements,
  • how well you think you can make your point,
  • who made that statement and how you think they’ll react to what you say next,
  • what the social dynamic of the group is,
  • and so on.

For example, when someone makes a generalized statement about Pakistan that perpetuates a stereotype but, in my opinion, they’ve said that because they don’t know any better, I will almost always try to correct them right then and there. (Though sometimes what I really wish I could do is sit them down and show them Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk on ‘The Dangers of a Single Story.)

If I think they’ve made that statement because they genuinely believe it, then I think more carefully before saying something at that time. Sometimes it’s better to address more complex points later on and one-on-one. Sometimes it’s easier to send a link to an article or blog post that explains things better than you can. I do, however, try to make a quick point by saying something like “Well, that’s not quite right…but we can talk about that later.”

Of course, none of this takes away from the sting, irritation, hurt, or anger that you might feel at the statement this person has made. Which, of course, is what the Microaggressions blog is all about.

How I’ve Responded

When people have complimented me on how good they think my English is I’ve generally responded in a couple of different ways.

The first is a quick dismissal of their statement:

PERSON: “Your English is really good!”

ME: “Well it should be! It’s my first language, after all.”

I generally say that to people who genuinely don’t know better (yes, some people do live under a rock). This highlights their stereotyping without making it a very personal retort.

Most of time these people will accept what I’ve said (often with a sheepish smile) and move on. I can remember only once instance in the last few years in which someone replied to this with: “No, that’s not what I meant. I just mean that your English is better than most of the people working here.”

I responded to that with something like: “Oh, okay. It’s just that I hear statements like this most often from people who have stereotypes about the English speaking abilities of people from South Asia.” (Though I didn’t say it quite like that at the time!)

Fortunately, this person was very open to the highly productive discussion on stereotyping that followed.

My second response is reserved for the people who do know better:

PERSON: “Your English is really good!”

ME: “Thanks! Such are the joys of having taught English for years and having worked as an editor whose job it was to correct others’ English!”

The idea being that I react as if they’d said that to someone they perceive to be a “native English speaker” (i.e. another white person). And since my English is usually better than theirs I simply…highlight that fact.

The response I haven’t yet used is one that I’m saving for someone who really deserves it:

PERSON: “Your English is really good!”

ME: “Thanks! So is yours!”

Or the one that one of my classmates at MBS suggested:

PERSON: “Your speak English really well!”

ME: “Thanks! So do you…for a white guy/girl.”

:)