Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Summer Olympics in Brazil 2016



Image via: The Sun

The Summer Olympics are an exciting spectacle, but Olympic Games hosting cities are rarely without controversy. Rio De Janeiro is no exception. The money spent to host such an immense global event, when there is such financial inequality, poverty and as a consequence crime in a host city, means ordinary people are torn. Between being proud of their country’s hosting capabilities, showcasing their culture, world heritage sites and tourism, whilst at the same time being understandably angry at the injustice of governments producing the resources to accommodate a huge event, when funds for local infrastructure, economy, housing, employment and social services are lacking. 

Brazil’s economy has been growing steadily for the last decade and this is why it was awarded both the Summer Olympics in 2016 as well as the FIFA World Cup in 2014. The middle class has been expanding in Brazil and governments generally see events such as these as opportunities to invest in the infrastructure and economy and eventually generate jobs, tourism, revenue and improve public works for the locals. No doubt Brazilians have welcomed such a huge honour to host these events, particularly the World Cup – Football being a cultural phenomenon in Brazil and being without a doubt, the number one sport played in the country. Soccer is an institution in Brazil, having its own style and mystique renowned the world over. However, it is inevitable that the working classes are not only skeptical of the value these events will add to the Brazilian way of life, but also justifiably demanding of greater equality for the locals.

When projects go over budget, take exceedingly long periods to complete, or are not completed at all and when money is spent on hosting these events at the expense and detriment of governance that benefits the locals, people respond with demonstration. Events such as the Summer Olympics, while putting a spotlight on unity, sportsmanship, peaceful competition and inspiration, inevitably highlight societal inequality, corruption and conflict. 

In Brazil, protestors threatened to extinguish the Olympic Flame as it traveled to its destination. One of the torchbearers himself participated in protesting the current Brazilian government, bearing a slogan painted on his arse. Consequently, security has been on high alert and this raises questions about people’s civil liberties and human rights, particularly in a country like Brazil where the police and security forces have a reputation for being especially brutal. It has been reported that processes of ‘pacification’ have been used to clean up the favelas to make them safe and accommodating to tourists and spectators. While drug traffickers are often the target, civilian collateral damage is not unusual and Amnesty International has been keeping a close eye on human rights violations in Rio.

While the Summer Olympics demonstrate the strength of the human spirit (for the first time ever, a team representing refugees – there are more than 60 million displaced people worldwide according to the UN – is competing), the Olympics is also a time to consider the greater imbalances and inequalities that plague our world and perhaps inspire the desire to want to make change.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Home is where your stuff is



We're in the process of moving and it's a pain in the arse. I moved around a lot for most of my life. I'd lived in two countries, oceans apart and went to several schools by the time I got to high school. It didn't affect me adversely. In my childish mind, it was a big adventure and I think it made me more resilient and adaptable to change. It also made me crave it. It put me into a pattern of not wanting to be stuck in a rut for too long and this translated into the desire to seek out change on many fronts, on a regular basis. I changed my hair colour often. I didn't commit to an employer until I was in my 30s. 

I moved house a lot prior to getting married and having a family. Most of the time it wasn't by choice. Renting in Sydney in the late 90s and early 2000s meant regular rent hikes and evictions based on the whims of landlords and real estate agents. The older I got, the harder it felt. It became heart wrenching. Just as I'd settle into a new neighbourhood, unpack my boxes and make a home out of a place, regardless of the condition in which I'd found it, I'd be forced to move on and start again. 

The process of hunting for a rental property in Sydney is the equivalent to self flagellation. I remember lining up with sometimes up to 60 other people to walk through a shit hole and know that it would cost more than half my income for the privilege of living there. Each time I got the golden nod from the high and mighties with my life in their hands, I counted myself fortunate and made the most of it. Looking back I have fond memories of each and every place I lived in. I lived all over Sydney, mostly alone and although temporary - each place was my home. 

When my partner and I finally bought the property we have just sold, it was a milestone. We knew it would be our home for a long time to come and we've made many memories in this dwelling. We got married, had our children and established our family. The time finally came that we outgrew this place and so we embarked on our first experience of selling and buying a home.

The place sold itself. The market is beyond insane, particularly in the area we live in. Prices are extremely high and we got a great price when we sold and we made a profit. However there was going to be a catch. We were going to have to pay an exorbitant price for our new home too. We got lucky and found something affordable and suitable. Not huge, but accommodating and full of potential. Most importantly, we have committed to a small mortgage that won't tie us down for too long. Debt, whilst inevitable in most cases, is highly undesirable.

My privilege has not escaped me. Yes we've worked hard to get to where we are today, but we've had help. From our families, the colour of our skin, the society that buoys us. I've been thinking a lot as I pack up my family's life, about what it all means. Having all this stuff, being able to nestle it in bricks and mortar and know all five of us can rest our heads on our soft beds at night and feel protected and safe from the elements and the uncertainty of not having a place to call home.

People say home is where the heart is, but it's so much more than that. Home is connection to your kin and history. To the land you were born and raised in or the land you have chosen to start anew. Home is where you sleep, eat, shit, shower, rest, nest, laugh, shout, cry, worry and plan. Home is the space that is yours. That is only shared with those you choose to let in, those that make up your circle of kin. 

How lucky we are to have a home. Because really it's all it is, just luck. Not worthiness, talent, a prize for winning at something. In this day and age, if you have a roof over your head, however hard you work to get it, you're lucky. Because some aren't so lucky. Sometimes circumstances, often imposed and always unjust, rob people of that dignity. And not only that. Some people aren't just robbed of a dwelling, but of a village, town, an entire country. Displaced through the greed and brutality of others who at all costs will protect their own sense of home, but at the cost of someone else's.

I'm not taking this move for granted. I'm using it to sharpen my awareness of my obligation to fight for the rights of others. To be aware of the plight of other families who don't get to have a roof over their heads. Who live in fear and insecurity. Who worry about the well being and the future of their babies and their children. Who don't have the comfort to pander to such self indulgent contemplation because they are too busy surviving.

This post was going to be a rant about moving and packing and throwing out shit. How dare I? 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

This is what Racism looks like

Image credit: quickmeme.com

I just had an altercation with the secretary at our solicitor's office.

I had to go in and sign a document for the sale and purchase of our property. My signature had to be witnessed so I had to go in person, which was mildly inconvenient, but no big deal. It was the second such requirement and I'd happily go again.

She knew it was inconvenient and apologised profusely for having to get me to come in with the babies, but the excuse she gave me was what made me see red. She explained that all the bureaucracy and paperwork was a problem because of "all the Asians" buying property.

Pardon?

PARDON?

I rolled my eyes and gasped at my husband a few times to show her that that kind of language was not only absolute rubbish, it was unacceptable. She apologised and told me she wasn't racist, but that's what all the real estate agents were saying.

I chose not to let it go. I chose not to stay silent. I asked her which Asians she was referring to specifically - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian... I asked her what she meant exactly. She flustered and blundered about how she wasn't racist and was in fact Indian and had an Asian family member. What? WHAT? Sound familiar? Sonia Kruger anyone? 

I told her that she sounded racist. That as someone with an ethnically diverse background, she should know how hurtful and inaccurate that sort of prejudice is. I asked her if she would have felt comfortable saying such a thing to me if I were Asian, or would she have been ok to say it to another Asian person or her Asian family member. She didn't respond. There's your answer. It's racist, I said. I told her I'm not the type to hold my tongue and when I deem it safe, I'm being that example to my daughters. If you see it, hear it and you aren't at risk, say something. 

This is the sort of racist rhetoric that has been acceptable in Australia since its colonial inception. Aboriginal people, Europeans, Asians and now Arabic people and everyone else who isn't white with an Anglo background has had their turn of being the outsiders. The trouble is, people with diverse ethnicity turn on each other too, to appease the dominant paradigm and maintain the status quo. To assimilate and massage their own egotistical fears. How soon people forget what it feels like to be on the receiving end.

We have to be better than this. We can't just sit there and take it when someone makes a stupid, uncalled for, ignorant and hateful comment that lumps people from a particular background together and demonises them. I thought to myself, since when did Australia become like this? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that unfortunately there hasn't been a time when Australia wasn't like this. There was always some group of people getting in the way of Australia having a white Anglo identity and that is because Australia has never and will never have just a white Anglo identity.

Australia is a diverse country, but if you want to get technical, the original and current custodians are Aboriginal. Our national heritage is Indigenous. The sooner people accept and understand this, the better. Australia was colonised; brutally and without permission. Without negotiation. Without consideration for the people, their culture and systems, the land or the animals. The repercussions of this theft is still being felt today and continues to blight our national identity with shame, violence and injustice. Australia was then, as it is now, a place that is occupied by people from all over the globe. We come to work, to live in safety, to raise families and nurture friendships, to worship as we please; or not at all, to live full and productive lives and to prosper. 

The notion that one way to be Australian is the only way, particularly when that way was falsely and forcefully established is ludicrous. In saying that, there is a way to be truly Australian. And that is to be free. And freedom comes with responsibility.

Saying that we all have freedom of speech, or that everyone has the right to be a bigot is utter nonsense. That isn't freedom. Freedom isn't about your personal freedom, regardless of the impact it has on others' lives and minds. Freedom is about living in peace and enhancing that peace and all it encompasses for everyone, not just yourself. Freedom is about understanding the difference between your own indulgence, privilege and comfort and the space that everyone has a right to in order to live a life free from discrimination, persecution, judgement and prejudice.

Asians are not buying property and making the market difficult for everyone else. People who buy property for investment purposes, regardless of their race or ethnicity, aren't breaking the law. Maybe we need to look at who the law favours and advantages. Maybe we need to look at the politicians and the corporations who disadvantage home buyers in favour of the wealthy.

Aboriginal people don't break the law, aren't unemployed or addicts as though it's a cultural trait. What a nonsensical assumption. There are people from all walks of life suffering in this way. When people become criminals, use substance abuse to appease their pain and find it hard to maintain housing and employment, regardless of their race and ethnicity, they do so for a number of reasons and the colour of their skin, the language they speak or how they choose to worship, does not determine this. Maybe we need to look at the social systems that force individuals into cycles of despair. What does our education system look like and who has access to it? What are we doing to unite people with their families and their communities? How are we evenly distributing the wealth of the country? What equal opportunities do we give to the disadvantaged? And yes, we need to ask why Aboriginal people are more likely to be incarcerated, addicted and displaced. Just look at the history. What on earth would you expect? But look at the success too. Look at the Indigenous groups and communities who thrive. Who succeed and survive every single day in the face of such adversity. The Aboriginal artists, activists, community leaders, sports people, politicians, business owners, academics and elders.

Migrants and refugees aren't coming here to corrupt our society, cheat our welfare systems, terrorise our security and take over our country. They never did. They mostly come to work. To find opportunity and security for themselves and their children and families. They come to contribute and to enjoy the lifestyle many of us take for granted. And lately, many come to stay alive and as a direct result of the policies of terror that our government and their allies actually inflict on them. 

We can't just sit back and let bogans with a mouthpiece hijack our national conversation. If people like Pauline Hanson and Andrew Bolt continue to have free reign with their hatred, these misconceptions are not going to change any time soon. It gives people permission to be stupid. It is divisive and creates conflict. It does not solve the problem, it only feeds it. We must draw the line somewhere. Some things just need to be universally understood as unacceptable. Zero tolerance. No excuses. And this has to be reflected in policy, the law and through the mass media. You don't have the right to be free, if that freedom is at the expense of the freedom of someone else. It's that simple.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Hoot Beard Moment

Image via: Twitter.com

You never notice when your kids start using language properly to reason. My twins are one and a half and they have started talking. They have babbling conversations with each other and with themselves. I recognise some sounds that could be words. They also say very specific words accompanied by actions; like 'hat', 'wrap', 'get down', 'ducky', 'jacket', 'Bubu' (an app about a cat). 

Somehow they go from these stumbling attempts at communication, to having full conversations with you, sometimes using bigger words and phrases than you anticipate. My almost three year old is saying things to me like 'that could be dangerous', 'how exciting' and 'don't worry, it'll turn up'. She also said 'Jesus Christ' and 'the bloody wasp will get us'. I'm working on being a bit more aware of my language around her till she's old enough to understand context. Her language skills have developed immensely since starting daycare six months ago and she comes home and tells me stories about her day. I don't even listen to the details much, I'm so enthralled that suddenly she knows how to speak.

She has this way of joining a whole bunch of random sentences together with 'but' and 'and so'. I can listen to her logic and story telling for hours and look for queues about how she is starting to describe and relate to the world around her.

This morning we had a moment. It's not the first time we've conversed, obviously. We talk a lot. I reckon I talk too much sometimes. I describe and explain everything to the girls and I'm well aware that most of the time their faces are looking back at me blankly and they're drifting off into their own thoughts or trying to change the subject (my eldest is great at this, especially if I am giving her a lecture about something she did that wasn't right, like pushing her sister or snatching toys). I'm sure they're taking it all in on some level. My husband is the silent type. He doesn't go into detailed analysis of every little thing like I do and his relationship with the girls is less verbose. They are very lucky to have a good balance.

So this morning I was dressing my eldest. We were talking about one of her favourite toys at the moment, her stuffed Hootabelle. The Giggle and Hoot Show is the official show on the ABC that hosts the ABC Kids channel. We are a TV family. It is on every day, all day. So sue me. We don't vegetate in front of the TV mindlessly. That's not how it works. It's on in the background. Sometimes the kids join in with the songs, sometimes we ignore it and go to another room. The kids learn a lot and it creates an ambience of joy and music and learning and colour. We live in a unit. We don't have a yard. I take them out regularly, but when we're home, the TV is our mate. After they go to bed, it stays on. Regardless of what we're doing, the TV stays on til we go to bed too.

We were naming all the characters on the show. They are mostly owls. We went through all of them, but she seemed to think we were missing someone. I argued that no, that was it and we went through them again.

'The one with the mustache', she said. I thought for a second and went through them again. No that was it; Hoot, Hootabelle, Hootley, Giggle Fangs, Mini Hoot, Giggleosaurus, Giggle Paws. There were a few other randoms like when they do the Xmas special, but I knew she wouldn't remember those ones. 

I tried to convince her that it was all the characters we knew and it was time to move on, but she wasn't satisfied. I could see her face contorting in an effort to try and remember. It was like I was witnessing that first sense of frustration you get as you search your memory banks for something you want to bring to mind, but just can't. As we chatted away, it suddenly occurred to me what she meant by the mustache; she meant the beard. 

'The Pirate one, Hootbeard!', I exclaimed. Her face lit up!
'Yes, Hootbeard!'. She was thrilled. We had a moment. We looked at each other relieved that we remembered. I've had moments like this with so many people. You're deep in conversation and you want to say something important and relevant, but it's just impossible to recall. How many times have we instantly pulled out our phones to Google it? That actor's name, that ingredient that can substitute sugar, that bit of legislation, the name of that restaurant we went to.

This morning I shared that with my baby and I don't know why, but it made me teary. It was special and I hope the first of many candid conversations we will have that leaves us feeling like we're on the same page.

Then I spent the next 15 minutes sifting through her sister's shit with rubber gloves on, trying to find the little white plastic thingy off the end of the coat hanger, that she swallowed yesterday. It's a life of extremes.

Monday, 6 June 2016

When Casual Violence Against Women Was Totally Mainstream

Video source: YouTube.com

The other day I saw an old music video pop up on my news feed online. It was for the Lambada, the forbidden dance from Brazil. Oh the joy of dancing sexily on the beach in the 80s. Dirty Dancing and Footloose were hit movies around that time too. I watched it for old time's sake. I remembered the two children who danced so beautifully. If you watch the video, you'll see them.

I'd forgotten about the 'plot'. The young girl is working with her dad at what looks like a beach bar, while the patrons danced to the band. A young boy makes eye contact with her and invites her to dance. They embrace and start doing the Lambada. A fast paced, close bodied, hip swiveling sway. The children dance with precision, innocently. Doing the moves well and being cheered on by the other dancers.

Suddenly, the dad catches a glimpse of his daughter and exhales cigarette smoke angrily. He storms over to her and whack! SMACKS HER ACROSS THE FACE, (around 1:35). What the fuck! I forgot that bit! The actor just flicks the young girl's hair, obviously, but it's clear it's supposed to portray a slap across the face. Here look:



I'd forgotten about the casual acceptance of violence against women in mainstream popular culture in the 80s, perpetrated by fathers or partners. I got to thinking about other instances I could remember. Footloose was definitely another one. Ariel, the lead character cops it twice. Father and daughter have an argument and WHACK, he slaps her across the face. She also has a fight with her boyfriend. It starts off verbally, then she takes to his car with a bat or something and he slaps her around a bit.

I can't remember if there's a similar scene in Dirty Dancing too. I remember the father being angry at Baby about some stupid shit and her begging his forgiveness while he looked out over the water sulking and her telling him in tears that she loved him and then running away. He stays stoic through it, angry, unforgiving, until his lips start to tremble and he succumbs to his emotions once she's left. 

Video source: YouTube.com

It was interesting to think about such iconic movies and music that casually portrayed violence against women by a person in an intimate relationship with her. When I say interesting I mean outrageous. I don't remember an uproar. I searched online for articles or criticisms. Even footage or photos were difficult to find. I couldn't find reviews that criticised these plots. I momentarily comforted myself about the fact that it was in the past and things have changed for the better. I mean there have been some incredibly empowering films about women who escape or confront violence perpetrated by men. 

Thelma and Louise comes to mind. Although at the end of the movie, they drive off a cliff in a suicide pact. The original story saw them escape to safety in Mexico, but that didn't rate well with test audiences.

Once Were Warriors was another excellent film that looked closely at domestic violence. It confronts the culture of silence and shame that exists around family violence and addresses patterns and cycles of abuse and reconciliation better than any movie I can remember.

Sleeping With The Enemy is a lesser known film about domestic violence, even though it stars a huge Hollywood actress Julia Roberts. I don't remember it getting icon status like Pretty Woman did, even though the story line was a more realistic portrayal of a woman's experience. A woman is more likely to live Laura Burney's life than Vivian Ward's

Despite such great advances in popular culture and its attempt to address misogyny and violence against women, Hollywood executives seem to still be missing the point. I wonder if it is a deep seeded and subconscious male privilege or blatant and deliberate sexism known to bring in the big bucks and sell movie tickets in some sick fetishistic way. 

Recently, an uproar did ensue over the poster for the movie X Men: Apocalypse, which portrayed one of the male characters Apocalypse played by Oscar Isaac choking the character of Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence.  

Image source: Huffington Post

I mean really?! I don't care that it's a still from the movie. I'm sure there were other more appropriate images the studio could have used.  

You may be wondering what the point to all this is. I mean, surely we can all tell the difference between popular culture, entertainment and reality. We see all sorts of injustices in movies and on TV and in music videos. That doesn't mean we are declaring those things are acceptable. Or are we? What level of desensitisation are we experiencing. 

When a rapist gets 6 months jail for brutally assaulting a young woman while she was unconscious, because he was a college swimmer and the punishment to his heinous crime might have an adversary effect on his future (never mind the effect of his actions on the young woman in question's whole life), it does make you wonder how one thing (popular culture) impacts the other (justice systems). The victim wrote the perpetrator a letter and it says everything so much better than I ever could.

You can't boycott everything, but you can criticise it and see right through it's bullshit facade. And you can change the script. I hope to see more scripts turned on their heads and I hope to see those ideals reflected in reality.

Monday, 30 May 2016

8 Ways To Eliminate The Green Eyed Monster (Jealousy Is Not Cool)

Image credit: via guycounseling.com
 
The pressure to compete is immense. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us we are broken, incomplete, and inadequate. This is done to entice us to obtain more material possessions and greater personal attributes so that we can reach some unattainable destination. For the most part, this coercion is aimed at making someone wealthy and getting what we supposedly lack or desperately need. The end result is that we can become riddled with jealousy.

Jealousy is a natural human emotion. We all feel its pangs at one time or another (mainly as children), with the hope that we will outgrow such immaturity or at least learn to recognize it and move past it.

Here are 8 ways to consciously address feelings of jealousy.

1. Focus on yourself

Jealousy emerges directly from the act of comparison. This dangerous emotion arises when you feel that compared to someone else, you are lacking in some way, and as a result, have lost the respect or affection of a third party. Often jealousy and envy are confused. Clinical psychologist Dr Mary Lamia says that envy is more about desiring the qualities, attributes, and possessions of someone else. Both promote feelings of shame. In an article in Psychology Today she says:
"The emotion of envy is often confused with jealousy. Envy is directed at another or others, wanting their qualities, success, or possession. Jealousy involves thinking you will lose, or have lost, some affection or security from another person because of someone or something else—including their interest in an activity that takes time away from you. Both jealousy and envy involve comparisons and contrasts."
Instead of measuring ourselves to standards set by others, the best way to deal with feelings of inadequacy is to only ever compete with ourselves.

2. Be less competitive

Competition isn't all bad. It's good to have goals and aspirations, even if you obtain them from the achievements and ideals that you see in others. However, your measure of success should only stem from your own activities. Compete with yourself. Push your own boundaries and use your previous accomplishments as a yard stick for determining your potential to excel. Aim for one step higher than your last, not someone else's.

3. Celebrate your wins gracefully

Nobody likes a bragger and a bad winner. It's perfectly acceptable to revel in your success. You are entitled to share your triumphs with others; however, if your intention is to provoke jealousy in others, you are going about it the wrong way. Sensitivity and humility is underrated. While the feelings and interpretations of others are not your responsibility, deliberately setting out to humiliate someone by flaunting your success will eventually backfire. You can't please everyone. We all find ourselves in difficult situations sometimes and you get what you give. The bigger you brag, the harder you'll fall when the tables turn.

4. Share your defeat

You don't have to be self-depreciating to be open about the things that don't work out in your life. When you find yourself in a situation that disheartens you, talk about it. Demonstrate to others that you can rise above challenges and face your emotions without letting shame or the desire to compete defeat you. Yes, some people might seem pleased that you are failing, but that says more about them than it does about you. What others think of you, especially at your most exposed, is none of your business. Don't waste an opportunity to explore your vulnerability. That is when some of the best life lessons are waiting there for you.

5. Empathize with others

Similarly, when others are at their most vulnerable and are experiencing a loss, don't gloat; empathize. Someone else's failure doesn't mean you are more successful or better. It has nothing to do with you. It is their own personal experience and one completely removed from your own ambition. The best thing to do in order to prevent a relationship riddled with jealousy is to show a little kindness. Find commonalities. Remember a time when you went through a similar failure and think about what it was you needed to help you get through it. Try giving that kind of assistance to someone else.

6. Celebrate their achievements

This is especially important when the other person is a nemesis or competitor, which sometimes is disguised as your best friend or closest sibling. Jealousy will creep in when you diminish the achievement of others. When in your own mind you minimize their success and find flaws instead, you are acting out of jealousy. Fight the urge to criticize. Even if you can see the cracks, don't point them out. Be constructive and supportive. If you aren't capable, try and stay silent.

7. Be discreet

The best way to avoid people knowing too much about what is happening in your life (whether it's your wealth, your choices, your goals, and desires), is to keep some things to yourself. It's not about closing yourself off from others and becoming a recluse, it's about holding your cards close to your heart and sharing with discretion. The closer you are to a person, the deeper you can share, and the more honestly you can speak. That said, those people are hard to find and relationships like that take years of trust and affection to establish. They are harder to master, but are the ones that are the most worthwhile. Jealousy won't survive a day in an atmosphere like this.

8. Learn from failure with optimism

One of the most important ways to combat jealousy is to have a positive attitude even when you are at your lowest and think everyone you know is happy about it. Keep your chin up and find the silver lining. Remember, your biggest competitor should always be yourself. If you can laugh about your own pitfalls, within your own mind, you will conjure up the strength and courage to face anything. It will give you a fearlessness to face any challenge with optimism and creativity.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Image search FAIL

Image via Google Search: Women

When I write articles for Lifehackorg, one of my tasks is to choose an image that reflects the content of the article and will attract readers. Sometimes I spend more time doing this than writing the actual words. Not because there aren't an abundance of high resolution photos on the internet, many of which are free if they are credited correctly. But because I am very conscious of the message I am sending with the photo attached to my article.

I try to be diverse and generic. I am aware of white privilege, racism, sexism, privacy, cliche and ageism to name only a few issues. I try to use pictures that don't identify a person and try to think outside the square, so that the image entices people to read the article and piques their curiosity, while at the same time reflects a diverse and equal society. I'm also conscious of the source of the image. I try to ensure that the website attached is not some bigoted or misguided site that promotes ignorance and hatred. Sometimes they use the image I have chosen, sometimes the editors replace it with one they think is more suitable.

It is incredibly frustrating trying to find an image that isn't completely inappropriate. The photo above is a perfect example. I simply searched for the word women and that was the result.

The first image is of Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook in an article called Women In The Workplace from the Wall Street Journal. That's excellent, but look at the other photos.

Here are the initial observations I made. They are all white. One woman is fellating a banana, one woman's breast's are the size of desk globes. They are all young and attractive, they seem to have the same face and same expression. Human Barbie is there. That is just a very small snapshot, however it is a common frustration I face. When I look for a specific photo of a woman, I am almost always getting these results first. White, young, attractive, sexy, posing, pouty lips, white teeth, regardless of what activity they are doing.

Search for female doctor, you get sexy doctor. Woman at computer and she's suggestively chewing her pen and crossing her very long and bare legs. She is almost always looking at the camera; at the gaze, or pensively and with docility rolling her eyes at the ceiling. Like this.

 Image via: Dreamstime.com

My search was 'woman thinking at computer'. I could have replaced the activity with anything; 'woman cleaning a toilet', 'woman undergoing painful rectal examination', 'woman about to perform life saving brain surgery'. Same result.

If I don't specify the gender and it is an activity that embodies bold or strong qualities; intelligent, brave, tough - the first page of images will more than likely be mostly of men. White men, with very white teeth. 

The most troubling experience I had was when I recently wrote an article about jealousy. I just searched for images with the word jealousy, or jealous, or envy. There were an abundance of images of women's very injured faces. Acid attacks, stitches, severe beatings. I didn't click on the images to read the sources. I understood the connection.

It's a direct reflection of the misogyny that still exists and how women are still represented and depicted through a white male gaze. It demonstrates rape culture, victim blaming, slut shaming and extreme violence - body shaming, racism and white privilege.  

You'll find anything you want on the internet, any picture you can conjure. The trick is to be specific. There's no guarantee that the editors will allow my photos when I try to ensure diversity, feminism, equality and realism. For them, the important thing is aesthetics and SEOs. Just know that I'm aware of it and I'm trying to change it.