Category: world news


By now you’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge all over the internet, and chances are you have dumped a bucket of ice over your own head.

i had seen links to the challenge for more than a week all over Facebook and the Twitterer before having any clue what it was about [largely due to our lack of internet video-watching ability as we had just returned to SA and were trying to get set up] and when i finally did figure it out, my response was largely like Morpheus himself:

morpheus

Because the way it was presented by the time i saw it at least was that you could either choose to donate money to charity [specifically ALS which as you all know, stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [more commonly as Motor Neurone disease in the UK and also Lou Gehrig’s disease based on a famous baseball player who suffered and eventually died as a result of the disease] or you could throw a bucket of ice water over your head.

Which seemed really crazy at first, because all of the videos that i saw links to seemed to be videos of people with ice buckets, not cheque books or big wads of cash.

So you’re telling me you are choosing to do this ice bucket challenge for the purpose of NOT DONATING TO CHARITY???

Didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and in fact seems quite counterproductive if that is really what people are doing.

Turns out a huge number of people ended up doing the donating and the ice bucket challenge [cos who wants to watch a video of someone signing a cheque or doing an internet transaction, right?]

It also turns out that this particular viral challenge brought in the big guns.

From celebrities like Oprah Winfrey,  Tom Hiddleston and Ben Affleck to singers such as Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and even a former United States president in George W Bush, and big money men like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, it seemed like this was something that was really catching the hearts and support of the people.

i’m a big fan of Jimmy Fallon and no surprise that he made his nomination [from Justin Timberlake amongst a host of others] into a theatrical event which he did alongside his guest, his voice-over guy and the whole Roots band:

Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters had one of the most creative with this recreation of the famous prom scene from the horror movie Carrie [which was fitting as he challenged Stephen King as one of his three]

Matt Damon did his with toilet water as he did not want to waste regular water by dumping it on his head [reminding us in the process that most US toilet water is cleaner than the water a lot of people in the world have access to]

even Homer Simpson got into the swing of things:

So it has gained huge viral attention and been hugely entertaining and some people have started getting really creative with their nominations, but so what? Is it making any kind of difference?

TURNS OUT IT MIGHT WELL BE

So i was a little skeptical, to say the least, until i came upon a number of articles and stories that seemed to suggest that this might in fact be a good thing.

According to this BBC news story, which you can read in full here ‘From 29 July to 28 August this year ALS received $98.2m – compared with $2.7m donated during the same period last year.’

The United Kingdom was apparently seeing similiar figures, ‘Pre-ice bucket, the MND Association would receive on average £200,000 a week in donations. From 22 to 29 August, it received £2.7m.’

Other charities also started to benefit, with a significant one in England being Water Aid which ‘has seen a spike in donations, including £47,000 in one day – 50% higher than it ever received in a single day before. The money came in part from people bemoaning the water wasted in the challenges.’

Not just from the money side which is obviously a huge benefit to those working in research in terms of trying to find a cure and better ways to deal with the disease, there has definitely been an increase in awareness which was one of the original intentions of the campaign. The fact that it somehow caught the attention of celebrities was a huge boost to this in the social media sharing age we find ourselves in, helping it to spread at phenomenal rates.

It was also very helpful for me to hear from those suffering from the disease and their families:

“I have had MND for 10 years now and for anyone affected by this disease the ice bucket challenge has been the most wonderful phenomenon,” says Euan MacDonald, the founder of Euan’s Guide, a website that features information and reviews about disabled access around the UK.

And this was one of the best articles i read on the topic from the perspective of a family of an ALS sufferer and their thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge, which includes a 10 point ‘Mile in ALS shoes’ guide to give you some perspective on what it is like to suffer from this disease.

Finally this ABC news story sums it up:

 

 

So, the Ice Bucket Challenge? Have you taken part? What are your thoughts on it?

From my side, it does seem to have brought a lot of awareness as well as a huge financial boost to those who are working in areas related to the disease and that can only be a good thing.

I would however, suggest that the negative side of the Ice Bucket Challenge is that a week from now the majority of people will have moved on to the regulars of cat videos and internet memes until the next viral buzz comes along and that it might be more helpful for individuals to have a more longer term involvement when it comes to charity [possibly choosing one and supporting it well rather than jumping on every new thing that comes along] and i am still going to agree with my friend Morpheus here…

LATE EDIT: Just came across this article which interestingly gives the percentage breakdown of how the ALS Association spends their money which is eye-opening to say the least with figures for executives ranging from :

  • Jane H. Gilbert – President and CEO –$339,475.00
  • Kathi Kromer – Director of State Advocacy – $110,661.00

Hm. Definitely grateful to be part of something like Common Change where i know that 100% of the money i donate actually goes towards meeting needs. Not that other charities that need to pay  salaries and overheads are a bad thing, but it just feels great knowing where your money is going.

morpheus

“Na-Nu Na-Nu”

Robin McLaurin Williams, born July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois.

[died August 2014]

robin

 

i knew his as ‘Mork’ in the comedy sitcom ‘Mork and Mindy’

i laughed and cried at/with him in ‘Dead Poets Society’, ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ and ‘Patch Adams’

i was completely blown away and broken by his performance and the hecticness of the movie ‘What Dreams May Come’

i was inspired by his turn in ‘Good Will Hunting’

‘The Birdcage’, ‘Mrs Doubtfire’,  and ‘Jumanji’ were all personal favourites of mine…

and just the other day saw him on the big screen in the trailer for the upcoming ‘Night at the Museum III’

 

[i was even one of the fewer fans of the little appreciated ‘Death to Smoochy’]

 

and of course he completely stole the scene, or scenes, or quite possibly the whole of ‘Aladdin’ as the genie…

and… and… and…

As i look down his filmography on IMDB i keep being reminded of yet another movie and a different performance that thrilled or moved or inspired me.

Robin Williams had a definite gift.

In fact, when i think of him, this clip of him doing ‘Pygmy with a Stutter’ on Jay Leno’s show is the one that instantly comes to mind…

RobinWilliams seemed to often carry a deep sense of personal sadness with him, especially as he grew older, which could occasionally be glimpsed through his eyes in interviews. As the man who for a decade or two was definitely deserving of the title of ‘Funniest Man Alive’ this was something that always seemed so deeply real and yet so completely out-of-place. It is a tragedy, and one that spills over into the world, that his life ended the way it did.

There are never the ‘right words’ when someone dies and so i thought i would just bring some small honour to the life of a man with a very special gift through some pictures reminding us of a few of his moments which brought the laughs or the tears or the inspiration or the amazement to us all.

Thank you for the entertainment.

Thank you for reminding us all to Carpe the Diem… Seize the Day.

What is your favorite Robin Williams movie, moment or memory? Let’s share some of these in the comments section to celebrate a life…

The phrase is off-putting and in some ways misleading [to someone who doesn’t understand what it means at any rate].

Tell a guy he is a part of the existing rape culture and he is most likely to react strongly against that:

“How dare you suggest I’m a rapist? Or put me in the same grouping as rapists as if I could be one of them.”

Well, sometimes that thing you think you’re against is not really the thing you’re against.

 

WELL, WHAT DOES IT MEAN THEN?

dont

Let me be really clear here – I am not an expert on this and so I am sharing what I [and others I am reading] understand the term to mean. I believe that being able to wrap our minds [yes guys, this is especially important to us, and if we can turn off our reaction responses for a few minutes and simply try read to understand, that will really be helpful] around this is so  very important if we are going to ever have any chance of seeing any kind of change take place. And we REALLY need to see a whole lot of change taking place.

So let’s see what some others have to say:

Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. [wikipedia]

Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.  Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. [Women’s Center, Marshall University]

In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.” [from the article ‘Upsetting Rape Culture’ on Force]

Rape culture: a society where men take and women surrender and that’s the relatively unchallenged status quo [Leanne Meihuizen]

Rape Culture is about desensitization, says Lee Lakeman, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres.

MY THOUGHTS ON WHY THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL

A lot of people have dismissed this as “a feminist thing” which is dismissed based largely on the loaded perception many people have with regards to the term ‘feminist’.

A lot of men have dismissed this conversation saying that “it is out to paint all men as rapists” or that “it is an unfair generalisation that is aimed at making all men look bad”.

I really think both of those views and others which simply dismiss without really taking time to simply listen and learn are unfair and detrimental. The message of ‘I am discounting what you are saying’ and ‘Your experiences and feelings in this regard are not valid or worth paying serious attention to’ actually end up adding proof or backing to what an increasing number of women across the world are trying to say.

My own personal journey into understanding the concept of ‘rape culture’ or at least that it even was a concept, began a few years ago when i read a number of articles and heard some different opinions being expressed about it. But recently when first the #YesAllWomen and later #EachEveryWoman tags became a growing phenomenon on Twitter i took some time reading a lot of the messages that were being shared and my heart broke again and again reading about some of the experiences and stories that were being shared.

My first response was to write this piece which is not definitive by any means, but was me, as a man, feeling that i needed to say something and add another male voice to the conversation:

https://brettfish.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/yesallmen-should-really-pay-attention-to-yesallwomen/

About a week later, while sitting outside our apartment, just letting my thoughts roam, i put this more poetic piece together which was also a response to #YesAllWomen, or more accurately, a lament:

https://brettfish.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/yesallwomen-a-lament/

I’m not exactly sure of the specifics of this story but i later heard [many times] that they had to change #YesAllWomen to #EachEveryWomen because the two women who started the original tag were being harrassed and threatened [as in receiving death threats].

HELP ME UNDERSTAND

I imagine that if you’re a woman, you already get this and so this whole piece is simply a lot of head nodding and ‘I wish [fill in name] would get this’. What you can do is be encouraged to keep sharing about this with your male friends. Help them to really see that you are not trying to paint them all as rapists and that this is not some ‘those people’ thing on the internet, but that this affects most if not all women across the planet each and every day. What you can do is normalise it in terms of the language you use, the stories you share, help avoid any kind of emotive shut-down response a guy might have when he comes across an article and just walk him through it.

If you’re a guy, the biggest help for me in this [and it was NOT fun!] was to read through the #YesAllWomen tags on Twitter. If you don’t have an account, you know someone who does. Spend ten minutes and read through them – there are some troll comments of course – but if you spend any amount of time there, not judging or trying to excuse or figure out – just listening – just reading – then you will start to understand what is really going on out there. Then take a minute [I would not recommend longer] and read through some comments on the #YesAllMen tag and find out just how messed up some men [and some women] can be – part parody, part aggressive, part complete hate speech – this tag that was set up as a response to the #YesAllWomen tag really made me angry, sad and disgusted. Then there is also #YesAllPeople which was very likely a well-intentioned middle-ground type piece, suggesting that this is something that affects everyone and because guys can be on the receiving end of sexual abuse and rape that we should rather look at it more holistically. Which does have some merit, but also, when the difference is between ‘some men’ and ‘almost all women’ it actually removes focus from where the focus needs to be. So while a man may be a victim of similiar experiences, a guy generally doesn’t have the same kind of fear walking down a street when a woman he doesn’t know is walking closely behind him, or when he steps into an elevator with only one other person in it and it’s a woman. Much of the idea of ‘rape culture’ is the fear many women have of men because of their experience of life so far.

Another thing you can do as a guy, especially if you are somehow still finding this hard to believe, is talk to ten of your female friends and ask them if they have any fear towards men [for example if they are walking down the street and a man is behind them] and listen to their stories.

Or read this article – Are Mass Media creating a culture of rape? – [which contains some disturbing content, but sometimes we need to be disturbed when the culture we are part of starts to look like this.] When people make jokes about rape, when rape has become a term we use to speak of sports matches or exams that went badly,  or facebook statuses that were hijacked, when advertisers use imagery suggesting rape to sell their products then Edmund Burke’s well-known quote starts to become chillingly true:

evil

Here are some more Examples of Rape Culture:

  • Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
  • Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment
  • Inflating false rape report statistics
  • Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
  • Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
  • Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
  • Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
  • Pressure on men to “score”
  • Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
  • Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
  • Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
  • Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
  • Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape

And from the same source:

How can men and women combat Rape Culture?

  • Avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women
  • Speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or trivializing rape
  • If a friend says she has been raped, take her seriously and be supportive
  • Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence
  • Be respectful of others’ physical space even in casual situations
  • Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent
  • Define your own manhood or womanhood.  Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
  • Get involved! Join a student or community group working to end violence against women.

[http://www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture]

I also found this list of 25 every day examples of rape culture of which here are just four examples:

3. A judge who sentenced only 30 days in jail to a 50-year-old man who raped a 14-year-old girl (who later committed suicide), and defended that the girl was “older than her chronological age.”

9. Journalists who substitute the word “sex” for “rape” – as if they’re the same thing.

14. Rape jokes – and people who defend them.

22. Only 3% of rapists ever serving a day in jail.

 

rape stats

References

  1. Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2008-2012
  2. FBI, Uniform Crime Reports: 2006-2010
  3. National Center for Policy Analysis, Crime and Punishment in America, 1999
  4. Department of Justice, Felony Defendents in Large Urban Counties: average of 2002-2006
  5. Department of Justice, Felony Defendents in Large Urban Counties: average of 2002-2006

[https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates]

SO OVERWHELMING

And so what can we do to make any difference to something that is so deeply embedded in our global culture?

  • Start by being educated – realise this thing is a thing – stop being defensive about it and missing it altogether – take time and be uncomfortable while doing so but push through

 

  • Listen – if you’re a guy, then give some space for your female friends to share their thoughts and experiences on this and really just listen without defending/reacting/explaining away/saying things like “yes but not every man is like that” which is true but doesn’t validate their experience and story – just listen and try and really hear

 

  • Make a stand – every time someone uses the word ‘rape’ to mean something that is not rape, i challenge them on it. Usually quietly in their inbox or in a conversation, but it is not cool when people do that. Ever. When someone tells a rape joke in front of you, you don’t have to make a big scene but just tell them strongly that that is not okay. When someone is wearing clothing that promotes rape culture, speak up;  when you see an advertisement using aggressively sexualised imagery, boycott the product, write to the company and let them know it’s not okay.

What else? I firmly believe that this is a conversation and movement that women need to be leading and being the chief voices of… but in what is still largely a male-dominated society, that might not always be the thing that happens naturally and so as a man I can create space for them to speak [as @micahmurray did on his blog where he invited a number of women to share their stories] or at least shush the man crowd a little, so that their voices can be heard.

This also needs to be more than a one week Kony2010 video that we share and get excited about and deeply passionate towards and a week later we have completely forgotten and moved on to the next thing. This needs to be a lifestyle change and an ongoing conversation and battle. We need to be a louder, stronger and more hands-on involved part of the culture that we have chosen to live in.

which culture

 

 [I also really found this article titled ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Rape Culture’ really helpful in terms of understanding and action]

[An Article by Pamela Clark with 35 helpful tips – don’t agree with all of them but most are great – to help men improve in this area]

 

Sometimes two sides of a vociferous argument can both be right.

A silly [but true] example could be someone from Americaland arguing that mayonnaise is horrible [i have lived here for three years and am still to find one i find overly edible]

Whereas, having tasted South African mayo, and especially the no name brand big jar version, i might argue that mayonnaise is incredible.

We would both be telling the truth in terms of our understanding of the word ‘mayonnaise’ simply because our practical and experiential understanding of the word is so completely different.

That is an inconsequential and silly example though as it is purely subjective on my part in terms of my feelings towards mayonnaise.

But hopefully it still conveys the message of the idea that two people might have a completely opposing and contradictory sounding argument that might still be completely true to each individual based on their understanding of the words being used to make the point

THE WORDS ARE IMPORTANT

I have had two very frustrating [multiple] conversations recently with people arguing so strongly against me on some issue, while clearly having a very different understanding of the meaning/concept we were arguing about.

[And by “Conversations” I, of course, mean Facebook comment stream back-and-forths. Eye-roll!]

At times it felt somewhat like me saying, “I am a huge fan of Star Wars” and the protagonist responding with, “No, Star Trek is useless!”

Your point MAY OR MAY NOT be completely valid, but your opinion is completely unhelpful in this conversation where we are talking about completely different things [oh and if a Trekkie hears you assuming it’s the same as Star Wars they will beat. your. ass. up.]

EXAMPLE ONE: GOD AND THE CHURCH

A fine example of this comes up again and again with christianity and God and church-related things which is why so many followers of Jesus continually look for new names for themselves [christian, no believer, no follower, no child of God… etc] because sometimes we don’t identify with the people using the same name.

I touched on that in this post which looked at the idea of ‘The God you don’t believe in is not the same God i believe in.’ 

The extreme, and easy, example to use as reference in this is the Westboro Baptist i hesitate to call them church, but you know the ones whose website is GodHatesFags.com and who celebrate when soldiers die and who picket, well just about everything it seems.

When i meet someone who says ‘I don’t believe in God’ and i ask why and she says, ‘Oh because look at Westboro Baptist church and all the stuff they do. If that is the God you believe in, I don’t want to have anything to do with that.’ Well my response to her is , ‘What a coincidence. Me neither. I don’t want to have anything to do with a God that is characterised by hate and celebration of people doomed to hell.’

And it happens with church as well – i do love the broader definition of church being the people of God doing the things of God and seeing in His Kingdom on earth. But there are many church congregations and leaders that do things that make me want to step away and distance myself and when people say they don’t believe in church, there are a lot of times when i hear them on that.

Which is why i always challenge people to study Jesus – if you go face to face with Jesus and walk away disappointed and uninterested then that is a totally different story from you walking away from someone else’s depiction of God or someone’s [or a group of someones] depiction of the church.

FURTHER EXAMPLES

RAPE CULTURE – i take a closer look at the idea and issue of ‘Rape Culture’ and what you can do to make a difference.

WHITE PRIVILEGEi take a closer look at the idea and issues related to ‘White Privilege’ and invite your engagement.

Women across the world and people affected by apartheid in South Africa [and other places of course] have been deeply affected and possibly the best thing we can do, or at least one of the first things, is to listen and try to understand so we can have any hope of moving forwards. But so many people seem to trip over the ideas that these terms can conjure up and so instead of sensitivity and listening and vulnerability and empathy, we are faced with defensiveness and reaction and blame and walls and a complete lack of listening.

Sometimes we really need to lace up another man’s boots and get the feel of them, before we can formulate any kind of helpful response at all.

Do you have the smallest bit of space in you to be able to listen to what is being said BEFORE you form your opinion and response?

Do you have the capacity to try and hear the entirety of an argument or story, even if it contains words or phrases that make you uncomfortable or want to react or lash out or defend?

As the person who is not the person who is/was marginalised, do you honestly believe that you can legitimately tell them how they feel or what they’ve been through? Or refuse any longer to give them a chance to do the speaking and telling us how it was/is and might be…

 

i go outside

and sit on the top step in front of my apartment

and look around…

taking in the sights

listening to the noise

a family preparing for a celebration across the street

the sound of a car backfiring, further down the road

a laugh, an ambulance siren, a child’s excited scream, the sound of two cats fighting, the music starting up

and all seems normal

this all feels right and good

i pause and take it all in…

 

[time passes]

 

i move indoors

and sit in front of my laptop computer

and look around…

taking in the tweets

listening amidst the noise

and somehow stumble upon a hashtag

that might appear like any other hashtag

but somehow does not

 

a community trying desperately to rise above the silence and find and use their voices to start sharing their stories #YesAllWomen

a community responding with defensiveness, parody and even outright aggression #YesAllMen

a community for the most part meaning well but demonstrating a complete missing of the point #YesAllPeople

 

“Because I get more hate and looks for wearing shorts than men get from each other for sexual assault.” #YesAllWomen

“Handyman came to house to fix a door. 50% of my brain was on escape plan if he tried to attack me.” #YesAllWomen

“When a man says no in this culture, it’s the end of a discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the beginning of a negotiation.” #YesAllWomen

“Because when star high school athletes rape a teenage girl, the headline is about their ruined careers and not her messed up life.” #YesAllWomen

“Because what men fear most about going to prison is what women fear most about walking down the sidewalk.” #YesAllWomen

 

as i read and i read and try to make sense of it all

the list just seems to go on and on and on

this all seems like it is their normal

and there is nothing good and right about this

i pause and try to take it all in

 

[days pass]

 

here i am once more

i sit in a state of deep thought and confusion and sadness

and look inside…

taking in the search

listening for a sound

a sound of hope

a whisper of change

the hint of possibility

sign of a better thing to come

but still the melody plays on…

 

for all the nights I’ve walked home with my keys poking out of my knuckles #YesAllWomen

for the meaningless goodbye call of ‘Text me when you arrive there #YesAllWomen

for the fear she has when she is the only other person in the elevator even though he is in uniform #YesAllWomen

for the need she feels to quicken her pace when she realises the person walking behind her is a man #YesAllWomen

 

For every single female friend and relative of mine who has been abused or threatened in any way #YesAllWomen

For every lewd suggestionand comment my wife had to listen to on the way to work any time she walked by herself #YesAllWomen

For the time my wife had to beg two guys sitting in their car to get out and help her when he was harrassing her on the street #YesAllWomen

For every cringeworthy male and female response i have been unfortunate to read this last week by those who don’t ‘get’ it #YesAllWomen

 

[more time]

 

once more, here i am

i am a man

i feel the legacy of a system i have in part inherited

i sense the responsibility i have to shape, fashion and change what i witness around me

but also the importance of me not leading the struggle or revolution

for that requires a woman’s voice

that cries out for women’s voices

but perhaps i can in part show support

in part do my best to draw attention to the importance of this conversation

in part try my best to call for some measure of quiet among the frenzy of messed up misunderstanding and oppositional blabber

i can model and speak up and challenge and inspire and refuse to be drawn in and help and walk away from and intervene

and i can write and point and show and tell and hope and pray and teach and sing

and i can be. and be well.

 

and until, collectively, we can figure out what do to

how to move forward

how to see this change in action

until such a time…

 

together we can hold hands and walk tall and cheer each other on

looking forward together

towards a new normal

one that feels right and good

 

for all.

 

but until that time, #YesAllWomen

 

[by brett Fish anderson, @brettfisha]

[To read my original post explaining why this is so important for men to be paying attention to, click here]

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a new hashtag in town. 

Followed by a yawn right? Cos who cares about hashtags? Aren’t they just like ‘groups’ on Facebook?

What is a group on Facebook? Someone starts a group based on some topic they feel passionate about such as interesting shapes of clouds, bonsai tree gardening or stuffed animals – you get an invite, you join the group and… NOTHING ELSE EVER HAPPENS. I dunno, maybe you’re in better groups than me, but for the most part they are a way of identifying that you have a particular interest, but not much else. However, the two groups that actually ever did anything, became incredible community spaces because people really got invested and engaged and those were great!

Same with hashtags on Twitter, for the most part. Occasionally you find something fun or interesting and are able to follow it to get more info or greater laughs.

#MeteorShower from Friday night was a classic example of that – huge exciting natural phenomenon of epic proportions prophecied by the people of science, but for the most part the experience of Meteor Shower Watching was a huge anticlimax and led to some classics such as:

and:

i even got into the act making some Hollywood adapted references to Meteor flavoured movies such as:

and my most popular:

Thus, in certain situations, hashtags have definitely had their uses, but not many of them as significant as #YesAllWomen which has hit the ground running and been gathering speed over the last 24 hours. 

WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?

Apparently the hashtag was created as a response to the tragic story of the shooting in Santa Barbara on Friday which took the lives of 6 people, as the shooter apparently had a lot of videos on You Tube where he vented his frustrations against women. You can read the article that speaks about the connection over here.

But #YesAllWomen is also part of a longer conversation that involves the rights and freedoms of women and includes topics like the much-misunderstood concept of ‘rape culture’ [the idea that the woman who experiences a rape is made to feel like a victim all over again by how she is treated/judged/looked at afterwards]. This feels like it has been gaining momentum in the last few years and #YesAllWomen is finally an opportunity for it to be brought to a wider audience.

I happened to stumble upon it by accident by following a link [ah so that’s what the hashtag is for] to #YesAllWomen from a tweet someone had retweeted which appeared on my wall. When i started reading, i was deeply moved by some of the messages that i read, such as these:

 

It was really great seeing some celebs come on board as clearly they have the kind of audience that will help get a message like this moving quicker. Here is one from Patton Oswalt, who hosted the recent Webby awards that celebrated all things internet:

I also found a link to a blog post by Gina Denny which helped explain the hashtag a little more clearly as many people were clearly misunderstanding it and a lot of them [typically men, nice one us!] were getting angry and seeing it as something that was being used against all men. Read this post! This excerpt from the blog piece sums it up well

Writer and comedian Sara Benincasa told The Daily Beast, “#YesAllWomen is important because a lot of very good guys just don’t know what it’s like to walk around in a female body. They don’t know what it’s like to live with the constant nagging threat of sexual violence every time we walk to our cars alone in a parking garage, or walk down the street at night to pick up food for our kids. They don’t know what it’s like to get grabbed, poked, and prodded in public by strangers who are bigger and stronger than we are. Being a woman can be really scary, and if more guys realized it, they might modify their own behavior or call their friends out on bad behavior.”

The hashtag, Benincasa said, has united women to share their stories online. “Seeing one woman share her story can give another woman the idea that it is safe to do so.”

COME ON MEN, WE CAN DO BETTER

Wow, so i thought it would be a good idea to check out the #YesAllMen tag before posting this and so literally just went on there now and am so completely bummed [and sadly not surprised at all] to see the typical response which has, for the most part, been a combination of parody or anger directed towards those taking part in the #YesAllWomen conversation.

At the same time, I have to cheer all the men [and there have been a lot] who have climbed on board, like Patton Oswalt and others, in terms of adding their voices to this tag which was created for women to be able to share their stories. One of the most powerful responses for me [which proved to me how valid and valuable this is] is women who commented that reading through the hashtag messages resonated with so much of what was said which combated the feelings many of them had of being alone. As with many of the Taboo Topics i share stories from on my blog [dealing with issues/experiences such as losing a child, abortion, infertility, even singleness] the power in them comes when a person who is struggling through something alone, finds that there is a larger community they are a part of, of people who at least in some way understand.

But reading through #YesAllMen [which i don’t even want to give a second of attention to by posting examples here or giving a link – some of the commentary there was pure filth] just backs up how important this conversation is and hopefully finding ways that we can make progress in that area, which is clearly the source of a lot of pain for many women.

CAN WE PLEASE STAY FOCUSED ON THE THING

And then there is also #YesAllPeople which i imagine may have been started by some well meaning person who thought that we should all be focusing on these issues together. Or very likely not – there seems to be a mix of comments on there ranging from sarcastic and well-meaning to aggressive and eye-rolling and more. But what it does is it takes the focus of a very real issue that has been raised and in some part says that it is not important or worth really listening to. This tweet sums it up so well:

So yes, there is probably a need for the idea of #YesAllPeople for a range of topics and issues and areas that need some focus and discussion. But this is not one of them. There is a need for men everywhere to be LISTENING and REALLY TRYING TO HEAR AND EMPATHISE AND UNDERSTAND what is being said. We will probably never ‘get it’ until the wolf whistles start happening to us and we can’t walk down a street with a woman following us and be in absolute fear or when we get judged by our clothing and treated in many ways like second rate citizens.

We won’t fully get it, but we can try to understand and we HAVE TO LISTEN!

I am a man. And i support #YesAllWomen. As the graphic at the top says, it should not have to be because she is someone’s sister or mother or daughter… but it should be enough that she is someone. And deserves our care and respect. Hopefully a day is coming when we don’t need to wear things like this:

 

sharing

[Tuesday May 13th]

I am taking a break from a Share conference I am attending as part of Common Change…

I really wish I could capture the heart and essence of the opening remarks and the morning’s sessions, but I imagine I will fail dismally.

But I will try out something together anyway because I really believe this is something we all need to be thinking about, reading up on, talking about and getting involved with.

Especially for those of us who try and follow Jesus and get particularly excited by the picture of the early church in Acts 2.42-47

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = TIME PASSES = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

[Fri May 16th]

So it is a few days later now and the conference thoughts and conversations with kilt-wearing Scott and his lovely wife Jo-Jo and my beautiful wife Val are still resonating in my mind.

Also my head is remarkably pain-free which should be normal but has not been for the last month until yesterday’s root canal which seems to have sorted that all out and which was made possible by a very generous donation from our Common Change group who covered the complete procedure [which would have really been difficult for us to get to, especially with a huge transition and move back to South Africa just around the corner] and so that is bearing physical testimony to the fact that this thing really works. Groups of friends pooling money and then meeting needs of people they care about.

The one idea that jumped out at me at the conference earlier this week was the phrase “Access over Ownership” which is so huge, both in terms of Sharing Economy and a new way of thinking and living, but also in terms of the idea of how the environment is impacted positively when we start sharing the things we have [think four people car pooling as opposed to four invididual cars, think four households sharing a washing machine as opposed to four washing machines largely being inactive etc] and how it encourages a greater or more intentional community as we are brought face to face with the people we are sharing with.

# They discussed six areas of Sharing including money, transportation, accommodation and things.

# Organisations such as Common Change, Lyft, Airbnb and Acts of Sharing.

While this may not present the end to capitalism as we know it, or even possibly the best solution to capitalism as we know it, the Sharing Economy definitely seeks to tweak and adapt the systems that we have so that the person on the street can be more involved in being directly involved in making the money and in both the giving and receiving of different services and items in a number of win-win situations.

For many of the people we interact with, this is already bordering on old school, new way of thinking stuff… but i imagine that for a lot of my friends back home and maybe some of you as well, this could be quite light-bulb illuminating, a eureka moment of why-did-we-never-think-of-this-before? And it’s not like it hasn’t been happening for hundreds and maybe thousands of years in traditional tribes and rural villages and more extended family embracing communities, but as an idea that is starting to affect and inspire and ignite the mainstream into action, it has a strong feel of new to it.

IT BEGINS BY THINKING DIFFERENTLY

drill

My beautiful wife, Val, has this saying that she has embraced as a life mantra that she found and which goes like this:

‘We’re not thinking our way into a new way of acting; we’re acting our way into a new way of thinking.’ [Katherine Fulton]

And we have done just that. In small ways so far, but hoping for opportunities to do more in the months and years to come:

# Two years ago we joined a group called Relational Tithe [now Common Change] where we gave ten percent of our earnings to a common group fund and then shared needs of people we were in one degree of relationship with to the group and were able to help a whole lot of people in exciting ways. For the last 15 months we have been working full-time with Common Change.

# This year we hosted Couch Surfers for the first time and it was such a great experience.

# During the conference we visited our friends who were renting an Airbnb apartment for the week and got to have a glimpse of that.

One of our shared values is Hospitality and so we are looking to have a place with an extra bedroom in it when we move back to South Africa [like we did here in Oakland, California] so that we can live out that value by hosting people – those we know and are friends with and also hopefully strangers and friends of friends and possibly even people we meet who are in need.

If you’ve never thought about this, please THINK ABOUT IT.

If you’ve never talked about this, please TALK ABOUT IT with your friends, family, work colleagues, sports teammates.

If you’ve never done something about this, please DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT – try something once, experiment, take a risk, explore…

Together we can change the way the world is operated – this is an exciting time we stand at… don’t be left behind [or merely choose to continue working within the old system]

 ours

 

I would love to hear your stories and experiences of any of these things you have tried or benefited from or given a chance to so please leave them in the comments below.

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