It’s not the shirt, it’s the assumption

Well, I’m actually going to do something kind of current for a change. I’ve been reading some comments about this shirt, and whether it’s racist or not, and thought I might share my two-bobs.

When I first saw it I suppose I started with the most obvious. For the question of racist or not – not really. The shirt in and of itself could be worn by any race and be directed at any race. However, I believe the assumption behind the shirt is very racist. It’s directed at a very specific part of the population – the ‘unAustralian’ haters.

I’d like to add at this point that I hate John Howard’s whole ‘unAustralian’ thing. It’s diabolical in the way it pits people against each other. It makes such huge assumptions about what it means to be Australian – most will picture things like a BBQ, beer, maybe church, probably sport and the beach, and, you guessed it – white people. It’s a pervasive myth, the blonde, athletic, tanned, young, white Aussie, going about his carefree day. But the fact is, it’s just not true. At least half the population are either 1st generation Aussies or weren’t even born here. Let that sink in for a second. HALF.

We’re a culture of many religions, many languages, many cultures and many colours. This type of t-shirt is predominantly aimed at white Australians with some version of – ‘nerr they made that place halal the whole countries going to shit, their taking over’ blah blah blah. These people, tend, ironically, to be the ones who take Australia and what it offers them for granted the most. They complain about a shop that sells halal meat, but neglect to take similar advice and simply go somewhere that doesn’t. In terms of business’ it’s simple, if they don’t get enough people buying halal meat it won’t be profitable to sell it and they’ll stop. For it to be becoming more common doesn’t show that ‘they’re taking over’ it shows that selling that type of meat is more profitable for the business than not selling it. But people complain and whinge and act like the way the meat is killed/prepared is so important, even though they don’t even know how it’s killed/prepared when it doesn’t say halal.

Or arguments over ‘losing Christmas and Easter’ will pop up. Because of course it’s impossible for people to individually celebrate Christmas here if they choose to, what with a public holiday, freedom of speech, and private areas where you can do pretty much whatever you want. Never-mind that the many other religions in our country don’t get any public holidays or specific spaces within which to celebrate their beliefs. We ‘Australians’ must be so hard done by, we’ve just got no Judeo-Christian moments left… As well, of course, as this also implying that white Australians all have Judeo-Christian faith, discounting the many atheists in our communities.

Because of this the shirt has an implied direction, and it assumes that it’s targets are immigrants or refugees, people who ‘have a choice’ about whether to live here, and should ‘go back home’ if they don’t like it. This therefore creates a strong ‘us’ ‘them’ mentality among those who choose to adopt this type of slogan. We assume that to be good enough to live in this country you need to be ‘one of us’ and as I’ve discussed, the ‘us’ that they’re referring to, is white Australian-ism. Which on it’s own fails to recognize the way that we took over this land from the Aborigines and forced them to adopt Anglo-Saxon beliefs and behaviours. But we can disregard that information because we are already in ‘us’ ‘them’ mode, and therefore anything that is not white Australian is foreign and not to be trusted or empathized with.

This is the real problem with the shirt. It allows for a series of assumptions in the minds of many people already partial to racism, and encourages it to bubble to the surface, instead of engendering a country of people with tolerance and compassion for others.

Personally, I would feel more comfortable leaving this country I know and love than being the kind of dick that thinks a shirt like this is okay.

Beginning down the IVF road

It’s like waking up in a different world you never knew.

Like most people, I grew up believing that if I was ready to get pregnant, that if I wanted to get pregnant, somehow it would happen. I suppose we generally believe that it is our right to have children if and when we decide to. But something horrible happened to us a few months ago. The bubble burst, and we found out that to have children we’ll have to go through IVF.

My heart dropped when we were told. I couldn’t believe that life could be so unfair.

I’ve wanted to have kids for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t a little girl that dreamt of a big white wedding, I never had a strong inclination towards a particular career path. But I always wanted a family. A loving man and a bunch of little ones running around our feet. I’ve been lucky enough to achieve the first part, I would not trade my husband for anything, and maybe I should be grateful just to have that. Many may not experience the kind of loving, supportive relationship that we have. Yet my life feels wildly incomplete.

I’m only just coming to terms with what this means for me, and for us. The information about IVF seems to vary widely and often conflicts. Most information and conversations are geared towards women much older than me, in their 30’s and 40’s. So when I read about decreasing chances after 30, it still doesn’t really tell me what my chances are as an almost 26 year old. It also means that I read a lot about Medicare and people saying that those using IVF don’t deserve access to rebates because they “shouldn’t have left it so late”. I don’t really agree with that argument even for those who are older. But it bares stark contrast to my experience. We’re trying to have kids early, and I wanted to try four years before this, exactly because I was afraid of being left in this situation. Instead we’ll more likely be labelled as some irresponsible young parents because we will struggle to afford a child after the costs of IVF. The irony being that if we could conceive naturally we would have a comfortable little nest egg with which to pay for those costs. It’s a no-win situation. We’ll either have money to afford IVF and little left, or we’ll have money for raising children and no hope of having them.

There’s a part of me; when it reads about the chances, and the people that can’t succeed with IVF anyway; that wonders if we would be better off just not having kids. Hoping for a miracle, rather than going through the physical, emotional and financial hardships of IVF. But I don’t think I could make that choice now. I want to be a mother so badly, it’s too soon for me to give up hope that I can be. Maybe one day I’ll have to make that decision. And it will be the hardest decision I will ever have to make in my life.

To my newly pregnant friend

To my newly pregnant friend,

 

I don’t know what you’re thinking. But I wanted to clear some things up. I’m really glad that you were able to get pregnant so easily. It makes you one of the lucky ones, and that’s a great thing. I’m sure you must be worried about whether I’m really happy for you, or just saying it. Let me assure you that I mean it. I do not wish that you weren’t pregnant. I do not wish that I was pregnant instead of you. I really hope that you have a healthy pregnancy and baby and can be happy.

I hope that you can understand that my feelings of upset are simply because my situation is very painful right now. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for 18 months, and we’ve just found out that for us to conceive naturally would pretty much be a miracle. So we have to do IVF, and we’ll have to do IVF for any children we have. And we can’t even start IVF until I lose weight, something I have struggled with since adolescence. I can’t even begin to describe to you what a torment the last 18 months has been for me. The heady mixture of hope and disappointment, of analyzing every ache, or ‘difference’ and never really knowing if it’s real or just the strength of your desire to be pregnant that’s causing it. Each month the weight of not having a baby yet grows heavier, and I feel a physical ache in my chest. I am very grateful that you will never know this pain.

So, when I found out that you were pregnant I wasn’t upset because you were in such a good situation. I was upset because it reminded me how much pain I’ve been feeling. Pain that I would be in whether you were pregnant or not. I’m just finding it harder to pretend I’m okay when what I want so badly feels so out of reach for me.

I’ve no doubt this could be a tricky 8 months for our friendship. I don’t want to ruin what is a very happy time for you just because my life is the opposite right now. I want to be there for you as much as I can. All I’d like to ask is that you can be there for me too, because I’m struggling to cope. I hope that you can understand that sometimes I just might not be able to talk about babies. Sometimes I might need a break from even thinking about them. I’m sorry that I can’t be as excited for you as a friend should be. It’s not really fair on you. It’s not something I can really help either, and I feel horrible for that. I’m used to pushing away my issues for the sake of my friends. But in this, I’m afraid I have to be a little bit selfish. I need to make sure that I’m okay, because I feel so close to falling apart.

It’s difficult when we are on such different journeys at the moment. But I’m still your friend. And I hope you’ll stay mine.