Eight and a half Ways to Smash the Patriarchy Today – International Women’s Day!

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Help a sister out, and make sure you do at least one of these today. And if you can do it today, you can do it every day.

So,  perhaps we should all just agree to START today, if you haven’t already. Ladies – we salute you.

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1. Check yourself out in the mirror and give yourself a “helz YEAH!”. You don’t need validation from nobody but yourself lady! You are smokin’ hot AND awesome!

2. Don’t say sorry. You can apologise for a mistake you made, if you made it, and should genuinely express this, but NO MORE superfluous mutterings of penance! Find a new word, like “fudge” or “yep” to replace it.

2.5. Fix a printing press yourself and get a bunch o’ grease all over you *

3. Post a great feminist meme on social media. Make your own, or /share one, like we did! (hint: combine it with the heady thrill of nostalgia and you’re onto a shareable winner gurrl!)

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4. Write that sternly worded email/letter you’ve been wanting to send to that person who has stepped all over your self-worth and value. You know who they are.

5. Celebrate a woman who has inspired you. Give her a call, write her a note or shoot her a text. Let her know that she’s awesome and valued.

6. Pick up a piece of feminist literature to read. Go on, challenge yourself a bit. Or, if you’ve had one of those days where your brain needs a break from erry.damn.thing except Tay Tay and baby kitties, flick on a movie like “Sisters”, or “Bridesmaids” and have a laugh at some damned funny ladies doing their thing .

7. Identify a skill that you rely on a man to do, and set about learning how to do that thing. Srsly. Can’t change a tyre? Then ask someone to show you. Not sure about building your own deck? YouTube it. Goddamm just do it woman!

8. Read our blog. Oh no she didn’t! Yep. Shamelessly self-promote yourself ladies. To everyone. Not just to other “biz mommies”, or “boss lady chicks” – but to everyone, across the board. Learn your value, and own it.

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*this may be somewhat limited to those who own/run printing presses, however Amy did this today, so we felt it was important to include cos it’s bad-ass, thus giving it a half a point . Also, we wrote the damn piece. So there.

 

 

The Anarchy of the Anecdote

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We’ve all got one. A tale that ties us to the topic of discussion. We share them, often excitedly, with friends, colleagues, family and strangers (I personally love a stranger-delivered anecdote. Rarely substantiated or requested, but always delivered with fervor). But when these tasty morsels that people wait to desperately share find an audience on social media, and begin to be held up as reasons to question topical issues – well, that’s where the fun ends.

Take, for example, the debate on feminism and equality. Women’s rights, the gender disparity in the workforce, domestic violence against women – these are important social issues that are currently in the spotlight, and for good reason. Powerful pieces of writing and debate have been posted on personal blogs, news outlets and social media. Thought-provoking, exploratory long-form that hope to insight debate and encourage reform.

Unfortunately, within minutes of these pieces hitting the interwebs, in swarm the ol’ anecdotes. If you glance at the growing number of comments, any hope of intelligent debate all too often boils down to a game of “swap the anecdote”.

“I have two sisters and they have had the same opportunities as me and they chose to be stay-at-home mums”

“I have two sons and they respect women and I’ve always taught them to be considerate”

“My husband is the most amazing man in the world AND he cooks sometimes!”

Wow! That instantly negates everything I know about equality. That one guy cooks! Bugger it, maybe we should just give up this whole struggle! He makes PASTA guys!!

It’s important to understand these acecdotes exactly as they are: A singular personal story that, although holds meaning and power to the sharer, doesn’t actually lend itself to continuing or enriching an argument.

My particular fave is the constant, incessant, shouty stories coming from the #notallmen brigade, in defense of any issue that cites men as the majority in any crime or outcome. Clem Ford has them thrown at every piece she writes. Every issue, every statistic. It must be so damn tiring.

“But what about this woman on TV who also made a pass at some guy?! What about HER!!!?”

OMG, that’s awkward! How unprofessional – I hope someone worded her up on that. Thank you for giving me somewhere to hang my sexist hat and ignore the glaringly obvious cultural disparity and statistics around sexual harrassment in the workplace. If that one lady can do it – it must be happening EVERYWHERE. So. You know. Equality.

Yeah, Nah.

This is NOT the discussion we should be having. Your anecdote does not add to the debate. It distracts. It minimalises. It reduces. It does nothing to solve the issue.

Which is, when looking at the  statistics, glaringly obvious. For example, when it comes to assaults in family and domestic violence, there are:

  • Four times as many female victims (4,534) as male victims (1,157) in South Australia;
  • Four times as many female victims (3,482) as male victims (807) in the Northern Territory;
  • Three times as many female victims (10,648) as male victims (3,860) in Western Australia;
  • Three times as many female victims (465) as male victims (145) in Australian Capital Territory; and
  • Twice as many female victims (19,488) as male victims (9,261) in New South Wales.

That the ratio of female to male victims is only two to one in NSW might be surprising at first glance. But of those 9,261 male victims of assault, only 3,305 incidents involved a partner or an ex.*

But the expectation that with one story, we should sweep aside these horrific numbers and agree with “this guy”, shows pure ignorance.

So let’s all put our righteous anecdotes aside and look at these statistics, look at the research and findings from people that are qualified to present them, and figure out how to solve this problem together. Let’s not bicker or get distracted by one story that represents the small minority, and hold that up as an example. Let’s not get on our personal high-horse keyboard and yell our story to the masses. Understand that your story is part of a bigger picture that needs to be re-drawn, and pick up a pencil.

 

 

*Stats taken from the Business Insider 2015.

There Are Easier Ways Than Freezing Them Eggs – A Viable List

BarbaraKruger-Your-body-is-a-battleground-1989Image by Barbara Kruger

Have you ever felt that there could be some other way that businesses could step up to the modern challenges of ensuring diversity in the workplace? Organisations taking the lead and looking at real opportunities to ensure that high-performing female employees can continue to thrive in a corporate landscape whilst also choosing to have children?

Facebook and Apple have apparently recently introduced their own solutions to hold on to their best workers, with latest news reports on the interwebs reporting that they are offering to pay up to $20,000 for female employees to freeze their reproductive eggs.

Hold up a second.

So, it’s BIOLOGY that needs to drastically tampered to solve this issue of workplace equality? Oh of course! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s our bodies that have been doing it wrong all these years! It really was just staring us in the face this whole time. Women clearly haven’t been pulling our weight in the evolution department, and so the solution to ensuring we can work longer and better is to step in and meddle with our bits.

*FOREHEAD SLAP*

WHY are we doing this? Are we so far removed from reality that this is actually a viable option? According to Jennifer Tye, marketing lead for Glow, a mobile application aimed at helping women avoid pregnancy or conceive, it most certainly is.

“Egg freezing gives women more control,” Tye stated.

“When I turned 30, I had this notion that my biological clock was ticking, but I didn’t know what my options were.

“These employers should be commended.”

Gulp.

Can I just say firstly that we have no issue with women choosing to freeze their eggs, but we really have an issue with companies incentivizing it rather than taking a good hard look at why they make women with children such pariahs. Secondly, I don’t believe for a second this is giving women more control, it’s doing the opposite. The employer is telling the woman that her biological makeup needs to change, not the business structure. REAL empowering Jennifer.

So we made a list of ways industry could solve this issue WITHOUT resorting to surgery:

1. On-site child care centres. DUH

2. HIre the correct number of people for the actual amount of work

3. In busy times, give people the option to work late, or start earlier, and pay the MONEY for those hours. Keep child care support on hand at that time so that the option can be taken up by parents. Creating a culture of expected unpaid overtime is at the root of this issue.

4. Stop seeing having children as a woman’s sole responsibility, but respect her if she chooses to stay at home forever. It is no different to her going on a holiday to Italy, and loving it so much that she wants to quit her job and move there.

5. Offer REAL up-skilling or training as needed for any employee who takes up leave to care for their children. If there is a knowledge gap after having 4 months off, address it. Equip them with the skills they need to do the job well, without having to fall into the overtime trap.

6. Stop comparing the capabilities of female employees who have/don’t have children. Neither of you are better at your job for having/not having children. We don’t question whether men who have children do their jobs better or worse, they just have them.

7. Focus on making real cultural change in the workplace. Invest money into this, not egg freezing.

Please add to this list as you see fit. Humans are continuing to make this life way harder than it should be, creating more obstacles than a steeplechase in the big world of business.

By going down this path businesses are literally trying to own their employees, body and soul. Viable solutions are out there, so why are we offering these instead?

 

Sleep Deprivation – Tortured Delirium or Creative Genius?

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I’ve always been a great sleeper. I love sleep. I sleep well. I sleep long.

Correction: Slept.

Lately, August has been enjoying his “babies being babies” status by waking every two hours overnight to feed. I’m talking ravenous feeding. He’s little, he’s growing, and it’s just not an option for me to refuse to feed the little tyke. So I’m up. A lot.

As the days wore on and my maximum length of slumber at a time peaked at 2.5 hours in a 5 day period – I hit delirium. And this is where it gets interesting. I think I found a correlation between creativity and sleep deprivation. A positive spin on a shite situation – yes indeed. Could it just be the delirium talking – quite possibly.

I can only liken it to that level of drinking when your barriers come down, you get all loosey-goosey in the chatter department, and you suddenly become a champion pool player. I have proof that after approximately 3.5 glasses of wine, I “get my eye in”* and start sinking balls like I’ve joined the professional circuit. I once got someone to take a video of me executing some crazy shot that included ricochets, jump shots and 3 balls sunk, just so I could show people my mad skills in the harsh light of day. Amy and I once went away for a weekend to write an ebook (still in progress), drank a couple of bottles of red, befriended the local pub owner and creativity positively sparked out of us. We think.

I started to see this side of me emerging around 3pm each day, but now my mad skills extended to heightened wit and crazy styling ideas. And there was no booze involved. I had inadvertently “got my eye in”** by not sleeping.

My self-editing went out the window, with any idea getting airplay. I was spinning puns and weaving wordplay without pause, and thoughts were streaming out of me. I also got totally over-emotional, like a drunk crying into a beer. But this was a small price to pay for flashes of brilliance.

A lack of inhibition has been characteristic of many creative greats, with an ability to tap into ideas that might never have seen the light of day had they allowed editing to occur. I can totally understand the need to chase this feeling, this crazed state of heightened everything where it just seems easier to work. Sure – you’re dancing (sometimes flailing) to the sound of your own drum. Sure – timeframes go out the window and strangers give you polite smiles and start to back away slowly. And SURE – your partner/family/dog are a little unsure as to why things are getting made when there are chores to be done. But all just a byproduct of the delirium. A small price to pay.

For a spell at least.

We know that sleep deprivation also does a whole heap of bad stuff to your body if it continues for too long a stretch.*** You shouldn’t drive, operate heavy machinery or basically do anything that requires refined motor skills and quick judgement. And we don’t CHOOSE it (that would be taking it one step too far).

But you know what? Two nights ago, August slept from 9pm to 5am. I awoke with both the fear of God that something had happened to him, and the pain of Zeus in my engorged breasts. After I’d checked that he was indeed totally fine and happily gurgling to himself in the cot, I realised that I felt like a new woman. I felt great! Good Morning World!!

But I also felt something was amiss. I sat down to try to plan my day, to write some more and plot a moodboard. And struggled a little. Then it hit me. My eye was out. I was totally rational and rested. And although I was so relieved to have been handed this delicious stretch of sleep, I was also a little sad that my loose crazy genius had also retired. Now I really had to think.

For the time being at least. August is nothing if not unpredictable.

 

 

 

* not scientifically proven

** also not scientifically proven

*** this is totally scientifically proven but I just don’t have time to Google the appropriate reference. Soz

 

Eccen-trip Melbourne | St Kilda, Football and Food

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Last week’s Eccen-trip to the iconic Melbourne locale of St Kilda had a something of a family affair about it, as we became part of the cheer squad at a football game final with a difference.  This was the Wynbay Bulldogs vs the Broady Power, teams in the Reclink Australia league, a competition that supports people with mental health issues, a disability, those experiencing homelessness, financial hardship or substance abuse or who have come through the corrections system. My husband Adam is a mentor in the Wynbay team, and Amy’s husband John had a hand in the trophies for the Final. Those guys.

We decided to combine the trip to catch some of the game with the generally favoured past-times of coffee-drinking, Hazel-watching and Melbourne-loving by checking out Luna Park and some of the suburb’s best cafes. How could we go past an establishment called “The Beavers Tail Social Club”, I ask you?

Fred generally chillaxed and pondered life’s big questions, August flirted with complete strangers, and Hazel – well, Hazel did what she does best. Being Hazel.

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The First Eccen-trip, Melbourne – Royal Exhibition Building Gardens and Life InStyle Trade Show

exhibition centreRoyal Exhibition Building

It was a blustery day that saw our small convoy hit up the Royal Exhibition Building to explore both the surrounding gardens and the Life Instyle Expo taking place inside the impressive building. So blustery in fact, that we were actually worried that the wind would take one of us with pram in tow (let’s be honest, it’d be Amy first). It was to be the first “official” DoE Eccen-Trip, Melbourne outing (read: first to be blogged about) where we got out the cameras and attempted to combine kids, creativity and coffee. I would suggest it was a win/win/win outcome, regardless of how my hair looked after Mother Nature blew it out of any acceptable shape.

Amy has been contemplating including her retail collection in the Life InStyle trade event, and I was interested to see what was happening in the area of form and shape that could translate into event styling later in the year. We also wanted to hit up some of the Kids InStyle vendors,  to get an idea of brands that might be in line with DoE (grand plan schemes peeps!)

The boys pretty much hung out in pram or on boob, so Hazel got much of the lens-time on offer. We caught up with the lovely Zoe Howard of Cushionopoly, with her gorgeous range of cushions designed, screenprinted and handmade in Melbourne. Fred flirted outrageously with Amy’s studio-mate Tamara of Retro Print Revival , and we generally ooohed and ahhhed over the many beautiful new products that caught our eye. Or Hazel’s hand.

 

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140731 hazel web3The exterior colour-wall of the Melbourne Museum

140731 amyfred Amy and Fred. Hat don’t fit? Still rockin’ it.

You Make Me Feel Like An Average Woman

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Dear Bec,

You don’t know me. At least, I’m pretty sure you don’t. And if you do, then you might know what I’m writing to you about. Yeeeeahhh, about that post of yours….

So, I’m a mum too. It’s both a rewarding and challenging gig, all at the same time. It can be tougher for some, definitely, and there’s a whole generation of mums that are now more exposed than ever, with judgement being thrown about like comical cream pies.

Back in the days without the interwebs (srsly, I was alive for that, it isn’t that long ago), it was our immediate family, friends and neighbours that were free to cast aspersions on our parenting prowess, not people we didn’t know. Magazines had ideals and most of these were based on trying to sell us something, but generally, everyone just got on with it without fear of what someone across the country might think about it. So I agree with you in lamenting the phenomena of mummy shaming.

I know you meant well, but I think perhaps being Rebecca Judd got in the way. I’m one of those ‘average women’ you refer to, whom the Miranda Kerr’s and Giselle’s of the world are “duh”, naturally hotter than. I know that in your world, you are judged by your looks and size. But let’s all just agree to stop bringing this into the real world, where mum’s come in all shapes and sizes and our main focus isn’t to “bounce-back” to our pre-baby bodies. Puh-lease.

Can we also just stop a second and think about why we want to look like we’ve never HAD children? Like we’ve never grown a whole human (in some cases, a third of our actual size – I’m looking at you Amy) and carried it around for 9 months? These bodies should be worn proudly, like badges of honour and those hot scars that women love. I stand by my belief that my friends who have either aged gracefully or had children and are happy (tired, but happy) are looking better than they ever have in their whole life. Yes, that’s INCLUDING their early 20s.

Let’s all keep fighting the good fight, but perhaps pause for a second to make sure we’re not actually contributing to the cause. Cause we’ve all got so much more to do (like dancing, eating vanilla slices, taking photos of our kids and writing letters to celebrities)

Srsly,
Caroline

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Dear Bec,

Oh hey, I’m Amy the one Caroline referred to earlier. Small lady, big baby? Yeah, that’s me.

First up, I know what you were aiming for with the whole ‘let’s quit shaming each other’ article. I get it. We’re all mums. We’re all doing our best. Let’s hug it out.

But I’m going to point out a glaring omission in your piece. Because, dude, it needs to be said. It’s the proverbial elephant in the room. No pun.

First of all, a basic recap:

Mums who breastfeed are great! | Mums who can’t breastfeed so they formula feed are also great!*

Mums who birth naturally are great! | Mums who know their limits and take the damn epidural are also great!

Mums who partake in pre- and post-natal fitness are great! | GLARING SILENCE.

I’ve heard you say in the past that you’re just ‘lucky’ that you look the way you do and it’s always kinda jarred me a little. Because… I don’t look the way you do. In fact, I was born looking quite different to you. I’m 5 foot tall for a start. I have red hair and freckly skin. And while I’m of a petite and (relatively) proportionate build, I’m no supermodel. By your definition that somehow makes me, um, unlucky. Me and a vast majority of women on the planet. I know, I know – don’t hate you ’cause you’re beautiful. But maybe don’t ignore me ’cause I’m not.

Did I get into physical fitness while I was pregnant with my babies? Nup.

Did I get into it after I had my babies? Ah, not particularly.

Do I feel exasperated by all those beautiful celebrity mums popping up on my Facebook newsfeed with their tales of how they got their pre-baby bodies back? ‘Lil bit.

I live a vaguely active lifestyle and I’m not overweight. I view exercise as a way of being physically and mentally healthy and because of those pesky ‘unlucky’ genes of mine, if I wanted to look like you and Miranda and Giselle and be ‘celebrated’ (or noticed at all) I would need to spend a lot more time working on my body and a lot less time doing other perfectly healthy things I love – like reading, writing, letterpress printing and watching cat videos on YouTube. And here’s the kicker: there’s a lot of money to be made by making the unlucky ones feel like they could look lucky if only they worked a little harder. I think you may even be making a bit of that money.

Just to be clear: I’m not talking about unhealthy behaviours or obesity here. I’m talking about regular folk.

When my body started changing during my first pregnancy I was faced with a choice: I could obsess over my appearance and approach the coming months with fear and dread. Or I could keep living my life. I chose the latter. By your omission, I shouldn’t be celebrated for that fact and I wholeheartedly disagree. That choice was the best decision I ever made. It’s not only great for me, but a great example to set for my daughter who, I hope, will live by my example and not grow up feeling ‘unlucky’. Because she’s a quirky little redhead, too. And she’s FABULOUS.

So, all you ordinary mums of the world, I’m just gonna put it out there – you are great. Maybe you got the lucky genes, maybe you didn’t. Maybe who gives a shit, you are ace. You know that there are only so many hours in a new mum’s hectic day and you’d rather spend your downtime reading all the books on the Booker Prize shortlist than punishing your body to look lucky. You know that you make a mean lasagne. You don’t need to buy into this post-baby body crap because you know that the people who love you don’t give a hoot if your tummy sags a bit after having those beautiful babes of yours. And you are setting an excellent example for them that they are so much more than just their appearance. Your eyes sparkle when you watch your friends having their babies, and it never occurs to you to check out how quickly they snapped back into shape. Or didn’t.

Ordinary mums, let’s get together over a cup of tea, a green smoothie, a full-fat, full-caffeine latte or a straight up martini. And let’s talk about things more interesting than our thighs. Which is, let’s face it, pretty much everything.

With ya not against ya (mostly),
Amy

* I’m gonna add mums who formula feed by choice in here. Because, you know, free will and all.