Canada has first cabinet with 50% women? But what about choosing based on MERIT?!


Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just gave Canada its first cabinet with an equal number of men and women. For those who cry, “But the selections should be based on merit not on what gender you are!” here’s why giving women 50% of the voices in parliament is a good thing.

Government should represent and reflect the people.

Governments make decisions that affect all of us. Shouldn’t the people weighing in on those decisions reflect the diversity of those living under that government? Around 50% of the population are men yet 70% of NZ parliament is made up of them.

While no two women are the same, there are still issues that may be more relevant to one gender than the other (for example regarding reproductive rights) and it’s important for both genders to be able to have their voices heard on issues that are important to them. With the current gender imbalance in NZ politics, issues that women care about but men don’t may be overlooked. That’s not to say all men, or all men in parliament, don’t care about ‘women’s issues’, however there are things that are not part of their lived experience that they may struggle to relate to and may not see as a big deal, when to many women it may be. This goes both ways, as there are issues men face that women may have little experience with. That’s why there needs to be a balance.

This should also reflect the ethnic diversity of a country too, as minorities too face issues that may not be on the radar for those who have not experienced them firsthand.

I know it may seem tough to try and have a government that represents different regions, sexes, ages, and ethnicities while also being full of people who are amazing at what they do, but it’s worth attempting. Canada is doing pretty well, so why not us?

Diversity is proven to lead to innovation.

When people say that appointments should be based purely on merit, they don’t seem to take into account that there is merit in diversity. It’s good to look at issues through multiple lenses. There is merit in hearing different perspectives alongside the white male ones we predominantly hear. There is merit in representing the diversity of the people.

According to the Havard Business Review, diversity drives innovation: “Leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights, and employees in a “speak up” culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential.”

A Forbes study identified “workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth”.

Scientific American wrote, “Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”

The innovation, insight, and creativity gained from an inclusive and diverse workplace would be just as valuable in parliament. They are making decisions that aim to improve the lives of millions of people and move countries into the future. We need innovative minds on that team and diversity is a good way to get that.

People are qualified in different ways – it’s not black and white “he’s better / she’s better”.

When people complain about quotas to ensure equal representation, they always lament how unfair it is that some poor bloke is going to miss out on a job to make way for someone who isn’t as qualified.

The first problem with this argument is the assumption that out of an entire country of people there aren’t going to be enough suitable women to fill the spots. Everybody just assumes that all of the males we have in parliament were the absolute best person for the job, which implies there are more males in parliament because they were simply better.

In the words of NZ Green party co-leader James Shaw:

“Just because people say they’re hiring on merit doesn’t mean that’s what they’re doing. This idea of hiring on merit is a virtuous aspiration that usually causes more harm than good.

It’s such a noble sentiment that you can’t argue against it but it very rarely happens in the real world. And by pretending that appointments are made based on this aspiration which we continually fail to achieve we’re making things worse.

Take a look at our current Parliament which is seventy percent male. Or Cabinet, which governs the country, also seventy percent male.

No one seriously thinks all those guys are there because they’re the best of the best, or that they’ve all got so much more merit than any female politicians.

The reality is that it’s a traditionally male institution.

There were legal and social barriers preventing women from entering. And those overt barriers are gone but many subtle barriers remain.

That means that a lot of the guys running the country aren’t there purely because of merit. There are candidates for many of those positions who have more merit, who could do a better job, but they didn’t get appointed because they’re women.

To those who say we shouldn’t make appointments based on gender, I say, that’s what we’re already doing. Everybody just pretends that it isn’t.”

We need to stop living in the “ideal” world where everybody has an equal chance and the best people get the job – which just happens to be men 70% of the time – and start living in the real world where we value equal representation and prove it with our actions.

Men in parliament are rarely questioned on their merit, yet mention bringing in more women and people question their merit. The former Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a climate change denier as Minister of the Environment; he was clearly the best possible person for that position! They also had a man who moved from Immigration, to Multiculturalism, to Social Development, to National Defence. He must have been the absolute best person for all of those positions too! It’s amazing!

New Zealand’s Minister of Science and Innovation, Steven Joyce, has no background in science whatsoever. Clearly there was no woman out there who could have done as good a job as him! We clearly have a totally fair system where the best person always gets the job!

The second problem with this argument is how do we measure merit? The characteristics society tends to think of as being merit-worthy in political leaders turn out to be the characteristics we tend to associate with men. A study showed that “gender-based stereotyping persists in the workplace. This stereotyping can misrepresent the true talents of women leaders, potentially undermining women’s leadership and posing serious challenges to their career advancement.”

Also there is no black and white answer for what makes a perfect candidate: people have strengths in different areas. It’s incredibly unlikely that there will be two people with identical backgrounds and qualifications going for the job. Everyone will bring a different set of experiences and qualifications with them.

The guy with a Master’s degree and experience working in politics may not necessarily be a better candidate for Minister of Education than the guy who has been teaching for twenty years but hasn’t worked in politics. If one person gets a job over another, they were likely more skilled in some areas, and less skilled in others. It’s about weighing up where they will fit in best and what skills are needed in the team.

It’s also unlikely that a man with a wonderful reputation, a PHD, and years of political experience is going to miss out on a position to a woman with no experience or qualifications who just walked up off the street and got the job to fill a quota. There are plenty of qualified and capable women out there who will do a great job, and like I said above, the fact that they are women brings advantages in itself. As Deborah Frussell writes: “It seems highly implausible that there is only one potentially good candidate in each electorate, or only one person who could be an excellent representative in parliament. It’s much more likely that there might be several people who could be excellent, and it’s a matter of choosing between several qualified candidates. Once candidates have demonstrated that they are good enough, or excellent enough, then we just need to choose one from among them.” Once we get to this point, why not gain some of the advantages of having gender equality and pick the woman amongst them?

At the end of the day, diversity is a merit.

The third problem with this argument is that in a meritocracy, the privileged are more likely to be in a position where they are considered to have merit. As Ben Bernanke said, “A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement, and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate — these are the folks who reap the largest rewards.” Sure, everyone loves the story of the politician who came from nothing and turned their life around, but far more common is the person who never made it because of hardship or a lack of opportunity.

Women have been discouraged from succeeding in politics in sometimes overt and sometimes subtle ways. Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard experienced a lot of sexism. A study showed that, “For women who hold traditional gender values – those who think that women should be modest, place their families before themselves and put a lot of importance in taking care of their home and their physical appearance – being reminded of Julia Gillard’s experiences made them want to avoid politics”.

Men also have the privilege of having many male role models in politics and leadership positions whom they can aspire to be like. From the same study: “International research shows that women in countries with more women politicians display greater interest in politics than women from countries with lower female representation.”

One of the benefits of a quota means more role models for women, and thus more women seeing politics as a viable option. The more women going into politics, the more capable, experienced female candidates we have to choose from when electing cabinet ministers. While there may possibly be a dip in perceived merit in the short term, it will pay off in the long term.

Finally, did you see how awesome the women on Trudeau’s cabinet are?

Clearly having 50% women didn’t stop him putting together a kickass team.

The Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan is a medical geographer and former professor at the University of Windsor and University of Toronto. She served on the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Minister of Health Jane Philpott is a doctor who has worked as chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital, is an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community medicine, and has worked in Niger helping develop a training programme for local health workers. She also founded an AID’s foundation which has raised $4 million for people affected by HIV / AIDS in Africa.

The Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould is a former crown prosecutor and former Assembly of First Nations chief who has made numerous appearances before parliament to talk about aboriginal issues.

The Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough is a lawyer by training. She has a background in human rights, inclusion and sport. She has worked as the vice-chair of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal of B.C. and legal counsel for the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. She competed in the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games, winning three medals in swimming. She remains involved in the world of sport, serving for four years as the president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

The Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland is a former journalist and international trade critic for the Liberal party who has degrees from Oxford and Harvard and speaks five languages.

The Minister of Environment and climate change Catherine McKenna is an International Trade Lawyer and former legal adviser to the negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor. She is also a board member at the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and has taught at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

The Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef is a graduate of Trent University and has been a member of more than 30 community-based action committees in Peterborough. Her family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan when she was eleven. She co-founded the Red Pashmina Campaign, which raised over $150,000 for women and girls in Afghanistan.

The rest of the women and men are equally awesome by the sound of it. Check them out here:

To those who say we should fix all the barriers to women entering politics instead of using a quota

In Deborah’s words again: “It will take too long. Women don’t want equal representation in 20 years time, when some fixes have been put in place. It needs to happen now. The long slow fix of using the list and fixing childcare and amending sitting rules in the House is just too damned long. That’s why, much as I would prefer not to, I think that the time has come for quotas.”

The longer we take to get equal representation the longer we are missing out on the innovation a diverse cabinet brings, and the role models for our future leaders.

Can we stop normalising groping people in clubs and bars?

indecent assault

So former All Black Mils Muliaina just had charges against him dropped due to insufficient evidence and the comments on the article had me worried for New Zealand society. Here are some of the points I’d like to address.

1) People seem to think it’s acceptable to be groped in a bar. Getting touched without permission in a club is apparently just a normal thing thing that is to be expected and if you don’t want it to happen you should stay home.

blog photo 1

What did you expect, being at a club? What were you even doing there?

It’s the same sort of victim blaming bullshit rape victims have had for years: “Well what did you expect dressed like that and drinking?” Oh I dunno, to not be assaulted and if I am to have the blame put where it belongs – on the attacker?

Besides, indecent assault is indecent assault no matter the venue. Section 135 of the Crimes Act outlines this. It’s illegal. If a stranger gropes a woman’s butt on the bus without her consent then she can call the police and they will do something about it. Why would it be any different in a bar? It’s become such a common thing that happens in bars and clubs that people act like it’s no big deal, when they would probably be pissed off if it happened on a bus.

2) People think groping / slapping / touching someone’s butt in general is no big deal. 

blog photo 2

Firstly, yes it is still indecent assault when a woman does it to a man. No, men are not animals who want sex at all times and will be happy for anyone to touch their butt without permission. Give them more credit than that. If an individual man isn’t bothered by a stranger grabbing his ass that’s up to him and if he doesn’t want to press charges he doesn’t have to. Same if a woman doesn’t care. But just because some people don’t care, does not mean everybody shouldn’t care and that it should be legal to touch strangers butts whenever it takes our fancy. It’s still not okay.

It’s bizarre to me how much people think having your butt touched by a stranger is no big deal.

A stranger puts a hand up a woman’s skirt, under her underwear, and touches her genitals without her consent: “Sexual assault! Gross, creepy, pervert, wrong, that poor woman! Call the cops!” they say.

A stranger puts his hand down the back of a woman’s pants and under her underwear and gropes the skin of her butt cheek: “Gross, creepy, pervert, wrong… if you feel grossed out by it maybe call the cops??”

A stranger grabs a woman’s butt over her pants in a nightclub: “Ha, nothing to see here people. Just a normal day. Why do you care, lady? Stop making a big deal out of nothing. Get over it. What did you expect coming to a club? That clothing layer between his hand and your skin makes all the difference.”

Am I crazy for thinking that’s weird? Like I get it, a butt slap isn’t as traumatising as sexual assault by any means, but it doesn’t mean it’s no big deal and that it should be legal for anyone to touch your butt whenever they want. Butts have become a very sexualised body part in our society so you can’t act like it’s the same as touching someone’s elbow.

If a stranger touched a 10 year old’s butt everyone would be furious with that person, but you turn 18 and suddenly it’s okay to have your butt touched by anyone who feels like it? People should be able to decide who touches them and who doesn’t. Men, women, and children alike.

3) People think it’s only assault if you’ve said “no” first. 

blog photo 4

When something is against the law (which indecent assault is) then you don’t get warnings and chances. It should be pretty obvious that you can’t touch someone’s butt or boobs without their consent. You don’t need to try it once and hear a “no” to know that it’s not okay. Should we apply this warning to all crimes? “It’s okay to punch him once but then if he says no I’ll know not to do it.” or “It’s okay to steal his phone but if he tells me not to do it I won’t do it again.” Just don’t do it in the first place! It’s not that difficult!

I’ve heard people argue, “Well how do you know she won’t like it until you try? Some girls like having their butts grabbed.” To that I say it doesn’t matter that there may be a possibility that they like it. It’s not worth the risk that they won’t like it. You can’t just go around touching people who don’t want it – completely ignoring their right to choose what happens to their own bodies – until after assaulting a bunch of people you eventually find someone who doesn’t mind. Just slow the hell down.

There are less creepy ways to touch butts: Introduce yourself, chat, hang out a bit, flirt, ask her to dance, read her damn body language: If you start lowering your hands down her back and she moves them back up, tells you to stop, or stops dancing with you – take the hint. If you suck at reading body language and signals just straight up ask, “Is this okay?” or “Do you like that?” If asking a question like that is enough to kill the mood and ruin your chances then the mood wasn’t that strong to begin with. Seriously, if you suck at reading signals and body language, and also can’t handle asking for consent, then you shouldn’t go, “hmm my only option is to go up to strangers and touch their butt and hope they like it.” No.

Just assume nobody wants strangers touching them without permission. Not that difficult because most people don’t!


  • I mainly used a woman as the victim in my examples because it was a woman they were talking about in the article. I hope I’ve acknowledged in my writing that men can also have this happen to them and not be okay with it. It’s indecent assault no matter the gender, age, or place it happens.
  • This obviously isn’t an article commenting on anything to do with Muliaina himself. The case was dropped because of insufficient evidence. Whether the accuser was groped by someone else and mistook Muliaina as the groper, or whether she is (as many have accused her of) just a liar – none of that is relevant to the fact that many people out there seem to think groping someone in a bar without consent is fine. That’s what I’m taking issue with here.
  • When I say “people think” I obviously don’t mean all people, but it’s far too many. If you understand that grabbing strangers butts without permission is indecent assault and people should stop doing it – congratulations. If you think it’s no big deal and you’re happy for whoever comes along to touch your butt- all the more power to you, but respect that other people may not be so happy about strangers touching them and that they are within their rights to expect people not to get away with doing it.

How to use SayMMM to create meal plans and grocery lists.


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This website has changed my life and saved me so much money. No I am not being paid to say this; I just get really enthusiastic about it.

Why it’s so great:


  • I had to decide every day what I was going to have for dinner and then make a daily supermarket trip.
  • Or, I’d buy a bunch of ingredients and try to put together a meal with it.
  • Or, I’d think I’d gotten everything for some meals but then have to go back and get something.
  • Or, I wouldn’t have the ingredients needed for a healthy meal so I’d have something unhealthy or get takeaways.
  • Or, if I couldn’t be bothered going to the supermarket one night, takeaways would seem like an easier option.
  • Or, I wouldn’t have meat out and defrosted because I didn’t know what I would be eating.


  • I plan out seven meals using SayMMM, make two or three of them vegetarian, and then mix up the meats for the other meals (for example a chicken dish, a pork dish, and a mince dish).
  • I can be more mindful and have more variety by making sure, for example, that I don’t have pasta more than once a week, or mince two nights in a row.
  • Matt and I alternate nights cooking, and we’ll sit down together on a Sunday and pick what we want to eat for the week. When it’s his turn to cook I’ll just look at the meal plan and say, “you’re making crock pot pork chops today”, print out the recipe, put it in our home-made recipe book and he can just get to it.

What is it?

SayMMM is a free website for meal planning and creating grocery lists. It’s awesome because you can copy the URL of a recipe from any website, and SayMMM will pull the ingredients from that recipe into a shopping list. You can also write in your own recipes. Then, when you plan out your meals for the week, SayMMM pulls all the ingredients from all the recipes you’ve chosen, and makes one big shopping list – which you can then organise by the areas of the supermarket (Meat, Fruit and Veg, Dairy, etc.) This makes supermarket shopping so easy. It also separates your ingredients list into “things to buy” and “pantry staples”. Pantry staples are things you may already have (like oil, salt, etc.). This is useful because it means things like flour and oil won’t be added to your shopping list each week when you don’t need them, but you can add them in with a click if you do.

I will walk through how to use the site now.

Signing up.


Click the “SIGN UP” button. You will then be given a bunch of boxes to fill out your details. Do that.

saymmm2Once you are all signed up and signed in, click on the “Home” tab, then watch the tutorials on Getting Started to give you an overview of how everything works.

Add a ton of recipes


Click “Cook” then “Add Recipe“.

Here’s the fun part. This can be a bit time consuming, but sit down and spend a couple of hours adding recipes to your list and then you’re set.

In a new tab, find a recipe on one of your favourite websites. I love Budget Bytes.


Highlight the URL in the address bar of the recipe. Copy it (Control + C).

Go back to your SayMMM tab.


Click the word “Link”

saymmm6Paste the recipe URL you have copied into the Link box and type in a recipe Name.

Click Continue. 


This is the cool part. As you can see, it has pulled the picture of the meal from the website and all of the ingredients and put them into a shopping list for you. It has sorted the ingredients into Get and Check (Pantry Items I may need). As you can see, herbs, spices, garlic and olive oil have all gone into the Check list as you may not need to purchase them.

Also, you can see down the right hand side it has organised each ingredient into an area of the supermarket.

saymmm8Think it’s gotten the area wrong? Just click on the area next to the food it has misplaced and a drop down list will appear. Click on the right area. It gets it right 99% of the time, but sometimes it won’t recognise an item and will put it in Other (Old El Paso mexican kits for example) or it will put Spinach under “frozen” when you are planning on getting it fresh – just change it to “fruits and veggies”.

One slightly annoying thing that SayMMM does is that it converts into ounce and pounds. I make the effort to change them back – look at the recipe to see what it is meant to be (tsps and cups for example) or in a new tab Google “oz to ml converter” (or oz to gram) to find out the value you prefer.

saymmm9Click “Edit” 

saymmm10And it will let you type in the box (as I did here) then click “OK”. 

You can also click that little trash can picture when you Edit to delete an ingredient from the list altogether if you don’t want to include it.

As you can see in the picture above, there is also a blank box with an “ADD” button. Want to add cheese to this recipe? Type it in, click “Add”, and SayMMM will categorise it into an Area of the supermarket for you.


Once you have your recipe looking the way you want it, click “Save Recipe”. 

saymmm12Which will take you to a page that looks like this.

You can click “New Recipe” to add another recipe now.

Want to type in your own recipe rather than get it from a website? You can.

saymmm13Give it a name, type it all in, and click “Continue”. 

saymmm14It doesn’t pull the ingredients into a list when you type it in yourself, so you will need to add the ingredients to the shopping list yourself.

saymmm15I just copied and pasted them from above. As you can see I put the pantry items into the right area. SayMMM sorted them into Areas down the right.

You can also browse recipes on the SayMMM website that other users have added and add them to your own recipe list. I haven’t done this because I found plenty of recipes myself.

Spend some time going through your favourite recipe websites and saving your favourite recipes to your recipe list. Then it’s time to…

Create a meal plan

saymmm16Click on “Plan” at the top of the page.

saymmm17You will be lead to a page that looks like this.

saymmm18Click on “Cook”. 

saymmm19Click on “My Ideas”. 

saymmm20Click on “Recipes”. I haven’t quite figured out this Meals versus Recipes thing. I think a meal is when you take a recipe like “beef roast” and add sides to it to make a meal. Once you have used a recipe it adds it to your meal list too. I tend to just stick with the recipe list as it shows all my options and I tend to always have the stuff for sides (frozen beans or peas, potato to make mash etc.) stocked anyway.

Pick a meal to have for that day of the week.


Click on the meal and it will write it down the bottom to show you have selected it. Then click “Save.”

saymmm22As you can see, it has added the meal next to Sunday. Repeat for the next day of the week by clicking “Cook” again. Continue for every day of the week.

saymmm23If you are planning and want to move a recipe to a different day of the week, (for example if, like me, you realise you’ve put two chickpea meals in a row and don’t want to be overwhelmed by chickpea goodness) you can do so by clicking on “Move”. 


This box will pop up and then you can click on the day you want to move it to.

I selected Friday and it then prompts me to select what meal I am moving it to. Dinner, obviously.

saymmm26Boom, moved.

saymmm27If you want to delete a meal from your plan, you also do it by clicking “Move” but instead of selecting a new day for it, you click “Delete”. 

saymmm28Once you’ve picked out your meals for the week it’s time to create a shopping list for them! Click “Create List” On the left hand side.

saymmm29It’ll show you the meals you want to include. If you’ve done a plan or longer than a week, alter the dates up top. Then click “Create List.” 

saymmm30This is what it will look like. It is separated by recipe with the ingredients you need down the left, and pantry items you may need to add on the right. Go through the list on the right and if you don’t have something and need to buy it, click on it and it will add it to the list.

saymmm31If there are things on the left hand side that you already have and don’t need, hover over the item and then click the little rubbish bin and it will remove it from your shopping list.

Once you’ve got your list looking the way you want it (pantry staples you didn’t have have been added and ingredients you already had have been deleted) add any other items you need that week such as cleaning products, soap, and breakfast and lunch foods.


SayMMM suggests items you have bought in the past or common items by area. You can click and add them, or on the left you can type something in.


Got your list complete? Now it’s time to organise it by areas. Click “Area and Stores” on the left.

saymmm33How cool is this! Once I print this bad boy it means it saves me so much time in the supermarket.


Click “PRINT” On the left hand side.

saymmm36It shows you a print preview and then you click “Print” Up the top right to print your shopping list.

saymmm37Oh and before you print, down the bottom you have the option to include the meal plan in your print or not. I always do because when I’m done shopping I put the meal plan on the fridge so I know what meat to get out each morning.

And you’re done! 

ALSO there is a SayMMM app so you can access your shopping list on your phone instead of printing it off! You can also add recipes to your recipe list using the app.

My overall verdict of the site:


  • Converts things into (I assume) USA measurements and you have to change them back manually. However it takes me less than a minute to look up the conversion and change it and once you’ve saved it it’s in the correct format for good.
  • Initially some time needs to be spent adding in all your favourite recipes. Not really a con for me as it saves me so much time in the long run and now I’ve built up about 60 dinner recipes and have tons to pick from when making meal plans now.
  • Isn’t able to pull the ingredients from a typed in recipe so you need to manually create your shopping list. Not a con if you get most of your recipes online anyway.
  • Why do I need to click “Move” to delete a recipe from the plan? A simple trash can icon at the end of each day would save an unnecessary extra step. Very minor thing, but thought I’d mention it.


  • Pulls ingredients from online recipes. Pretty nifty feature. Makes it very quick to make a shopping list from an online recipe you love.
  • You can alter recipes. Don’t like onion? Delete it from the shopping list. Want to add tomato? Add it in and it’ll be saved like that.
  • Once you’ve added the initial recipes, meal planning is SO quick. Just pick what you want to eat each night of the week, create a list, delete or add items, then print it.
  • Organises by Area of the supermarket. Can’t explain how great this is. It means you don’t have to go back to an area you’ve already walked through so it speeds things up.
  • Makes it easy to be mindful with your planning. The layout of the plan means you can order your meals so you don’t have mince two nights in a row or chicken every night. I make sure I am including vegetarian dishes and eating a variety of meats.
  • Saves me money because I am making less trips to the supermarket (less chances to be tempted by stuff I don’t need) and I can plan in vegetarian meals to save money I’d spend on meat. Having a list to stick to stops me grabbing things I don’t need too.
  • It remembers things you buy regularly so you can add them to your list with a click.
  • You can access it on your phone.

Overall, meal planning is a great way to be mindful about what you eat, save money, and save time. This website is a pretty awesome one once you get the hang of it.

I hope this has been helpful for you.

“You need to know that even as life develops in superficially disappointing ways, there is still fun to be had.”


That quote in the title is from Miranda Hart’s book, Is it just me? 

Being twenty-five has been great. I feel like I know who I am, I know what I like, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks of my interests. “Own it” and “You do you” are favourite mottos of mine. However this newfound confidence in not giving a shit what anyone thinks of me, may have led to me becoming lazy in terms of self-improvement. Why change when I am doing what makes me happy?

When I was a university student I had social anxiety and I cared a lot what people thought about me. I was also single and wanted to appear interesting so I could attract interesting people.

I was always trying to be the best version of myself.

I sought out alternative music, and found a lot of indie stuff I loved.

I watched a lot of interesting movies. I’d go to the “festival” section at my local DVD hire, watch classic old Hollywood movies, or things that my film studies friends recommended.

I read a lot. I was studying English, so my English literature friends and I would go to the botanical gardens or sit outside a café and read our texts aloud to each other to get through them. I would also try and work through the classics and Man Booker winners.

I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories.

I went to see plays and read plays for fun.

Essentially I wanted to become “well-read” (and well watched? Well listened? What are the equivalents for films and music?)

I don’t consider doing these things as being untrue to myself in any way. It’s not like I was doing a bunch of stuff I hated in order to impress a hypothetical future partner. I did really enjoy these things.

Miranda Hart, in her book “Is it just me?” said something that rang true to me. She said that when she was a teenager she always imagined herself being sophisticated; the kind of woman who wore nice coats and went to art gallery openings and operas. Then she grew up and realised she didn’t actually like those things and what she actually loved was goofing around and watching reality TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

My fantasy was slightly different. I wanted to dress in lace and broderie anglaise and have the perfect red lipstick. I wanted to drink out of beautiful tea cups and sit under a tree with a beautiful old classic novel and maybe a literature loving guy who wears man-cardigans and plays guitar would see me there and ask me what I was reading. I think every teenager who loves to read has had the “bumping into the perfect partner in a bookshop” fantasy at some point. Or I would want to be the kind of girl hipster musicians are into. Well hey, I loved a lot of indie music and could talk about it! I’ve watched a lot of indie films and could talk about it!

But reality hits. Once I actually hung out with those stubbled muso types, I felt that not only were they completely uninterested in dating me (they were more into the tattooed, skinny, pierced ladies and I could never commit to that) but that actually, when it came down to it, I didn’t actually enjoy that scene all that much.

I didn’t like people who thought it was hilarious to draw all over my fridge in permanent marker.

I couldn’t relate all that much to actual musicians who spent the majority of their time focused on their craft. I respected them, but felt like I couldn’t contribute much to conversations about things they cared about.

I don’t actually like live music gigs all that much – even when I went to see bands I really loved, I still didn’t find it that much better than dancing to their CD at home. I didn’t like going to a festival and looking around and feeling completely unfashionable by comparison. I didn’t like feeling inadequate.

I didn’t like going and sitting in a bar where I hadn’t heard most of the songs before and they were hard to dance to and nobody was all that interested in talking to me.

I had way more fun in a regular student bar, dancing my heart out to top 40 hits and being flirted with by regular, non-alternatively-dressed students.

The guys I dated who fit the bill of what I originally thought I wanted (alternative) weren’t actually compatible with me in terms of lifestyle, interests, and values.

I started to accept that what I thought I wanted may not actually be what makes me happy. It may look good in theory, but the reality isn’t fun for me. Which made me face the fact that maybe I am just not that interesting.

One day I wrote a depressing poem about how I will never be someone’s muse. I’ll never inspire someone to write a poem or song. I’ll never be that mysterious girl people wonder about or the girl who turns heads when she walks into a room.

But now I’ve accepted that it’s more rewarding to just like what I like, accept it, and own it. I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin because of this.

I got to a point where I was sick of people looking down on anything mainstream. I thought, “You know what? I’m going to own it. I like it and that’s fine. I know that this reality TV show isn’t intellectually stimulating, but I find it amusing and a bit of light entertainment. I know that this song has nothing new or interesting to say, but I love dancing to it. Just because I like some mainstream stuff doesn’t mean I don’t also have other things I’m interested in too. No I haven’t heard of that band, stop looking at me like I’m an idiot, I can’t help that I haven’t happened to come into contact with it.”

“Art is subjective and art as a form of entertainment escapism is as high art as any.” (Just keeping on the Miranda Hart quoting theme).

Now I am two and a half years into a happy relationship and in my first full time job. I’m with someone who accepts me 100% as I am and likes my quirks. Like Miranda, I love goofing around and being silly – that makes me happier than being classy and mysterious ever would.

I no longer have the social anxiety that had me constantly worried what people thought of me.

While it’s freeing feeling like I don’t have to try so hard, I think it’s made me lazy and stopped me improving myself. Because I 100% accept myself, love the skin I’m in, and have found someone who loves me the way I am, I feel no push to better myself.

I teach teenage boys, so the only books I’ve read lately have been Young Adult fiction novels that might appeal to them. Don’t get me wrong, there is some amazing YA fiction out there, but I can usually read those novels in a day or two and don’t feel particularly challenged by any of the themes.

I have classics and man booker winners sitting on my shelf that I have no instant desire to pick up. I’m drawn to quick-fix entertainment now. Part of this is because I am so busy being a first year teacher, but really, if I can fit in an hour on FaceBook and Reddit I can fit in an hour reading instead.

I have zero interest in seeking out alternative or indie music. I’m happy listening to the same stuff I grew to love at university, and the radio on the way to and from work.

When I’m chilling out at home and want to put on a movie, I’m nearly always in the mood for something mindless and funny.

The only entertainment that is a saving grace for me is television: I’ve been streaming Mad Men and Outlander which I think are a definite step in the right direction away from mindless entertainment.

My daydreams now are less focused on appearances, and more on the future. I daydream about starting my own business (despite having zero knowledge or experience – ha, it’s a dream for a reason); or volunteering overseas; or fixing up a house; or going on a holiday which involves nothing but eating, shopping, and watching musicals; or – on days when my ovaries take over – of how I’d raise a child to be the type of person who’d make the world a better place.

I think I’ve gotten comfortable though. When your motto is, “do what makes you happy and who cares what anyone thinks about it” should you then accept that what makes you happy isn’t expanding your mind all that much?

When you’re happy in your own skin and accept that you like what you like, how do you push yourself to keep improving?

Ha, tricked ya, this blog post doesn’t go anywhere it’s just a long winded way of me asking for your advice. Has anyone been through what I’m going through? Should you try and improve yourself when you are happy the way you are?

I’ll end this on another Miranda quote:

“I hope your dreams have come or will come true. Or you feel inspired to down tools on what you wrongly thought was making you happy and follow the real dream.”

Do your selfish actions cause harm to others?


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If you knew something would cause someone sadness, grief, and pain, would you do it?

Would you punch a stranger in the jaw because you have a crush on their partner?

Would you yell insults at them until they break down in tears because you have a crush on their partner?

Would you kick a stranger’s cat because you have a crush on their partner?

Would you burn down a stranger’s house because you have a crush on their partner?

Would you ruin a stranger financially because you have a crush on their partner?

I’m guessing for 99% of you (non-sociopaths) all of this sounds ridiculous. Of course you would never do any of that crazy stuff just because you like someone. You wouldn’t hurt a stranger who had done nothing to you – that’s not normal, healthy behaviour. You just don’t go around hurting people whose only crime was getting there first and loving the person you lust after.

So why the fuck would you be “the other woman” or “the other man?”.

Think about it: When you hook up with someone who is in a relationship you are acting in a way that causes immense harm to someone else. You are causing extreme heartache with your actions. If you wouldn’t punch a stranger in the face because you like their partner, why would you do something equally as hurtful to them in hooking up with their partner?

It’s not okay to hurt others. Even if they are strangers. Even if they make you mad or jealous. Even if you think they are stupid. Even if the guy you want tells you a million negative things about them:

“She’s controlling… she’s downbuzz… she’s crazy… she’s psycho… she’s a bitch… she stops me seeing my friends… she’s clingy… she’s horrible to me… she’s not as wonderful and nice and perfect and sexy and awesome as you.”

It doesn’t matter who they are. It really doesn’t. The point is, you just don’t treat people that way. 

You just can’t go through life doing whatever you want no matter who gets hurt. That’s not normal. It’s not healthy. It will get in the way of your future happiness, whether you can see it now or not.

Is that really how you want to live your life? Being callous? Being cruel? Putting your desires first at the expense of someone else’s pain? Is that the kind of person you want to be?

Maybe you genuinely don’t care what people think. But boy, if you heard what people thought and said about you, I guarantee it wouldn’t feel great to hear it. It would not be easy to brush off. To be called a slut, a whore, an asshole, a terrible, cruel, selfish, hurtful, awful person. Do you want to live your life knowing people look at you that way? That they see you the same way they see other people who hurt others? That they are incredibly angry with you and full of hate when they see you? That you are an incredibly negative part of their world?

Is this the reputation you want to have to those around you? Is this how you want to be seen? And what about your parents; you’re showing the world that this is how they raised you to behave (which I’m sure isn’t true, but I’m also sure they won’t be proud of your behaviour). What about the reputation of the place where you met the taken person? If it were at a workplace or club, are they now going to be known as the kind of place where infidelity is accepted? What if what happened ended up on social media and everyone was talking about your affair online – would that bother you? Does it bother you that people are probably talking about you behind your back constantly, online and in person too? Is it okay that people probably don’t trust you around their partners now?

All of this is the kind of stuff your actions lead to. It’s not pleasant. It’s not going to be fun for you. I highly doubt it’s worth it. I’m sure this isn’t how you want to be seen, talked about and treated.

Do you want to be a negative force in this world, or a positive one?

Do you want to grow and mature as a person, or keep making stupid fucking decisions that hurt others?

If you have been “the other”, it’s not too late to stop. You can redeem yourself from this.

The first step is to: Stop justifying your actions to yourself. Stop making excuses!

I know what it’s like because I have been you.

I have been The Other Woman. It wasn’t with a married man or anything like that, and we didn’t sleep together. He broke up with her not long after. She never found out so I never had to deal with the nasty consequences. But I am so ashamed of myself now. I wish I could take it back.

But at the time, I made every excuse in the book: “Oh but I was really drunk. And I really, really, really like him. And he flirted with me first. And he made the first move, not me. And he told me he’s going to break up with her really soon. And he told me he really likes me and doesn’t like her any more. And I really don’t like his girlfriend, she’s just awful. She will never find out. This is all okay.”

Except it wasn’t okay.

And what I wasn’t acknowledging at the time was that underneath my false confidence, I really, really, wanted a boyfriend. If my self esteem and confidence was higher, I would have walked away knowing there would be plenty of others out there – single people – who would like me.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t intentionally seek someone out because they were taken. I just developed this huge crush and it was reciprocated. It felt natural. It felt fine.

But it was not. Because had she found out, she would have been absolutely crushed. I would have really, really hurt someone. And that’s so not okay.

Some of my friends who knew tried to talk sense into me. They told me I was being hurtful and that they’d been cheated on and it felt awful. I too had been cheated on and had felt awful about it, but in that moment I didn’t want the hard truth – I wanted to justify my own actions to myself and feel okay about it. I wanted my friends to support me. I was in denial. So while I feel like it may be perceived as hypocritical to condemn being the other woman in this blog, when I have been her myself, I am doing so to give you the tough love I needed then. I am giving out the harsh truths I needed to hear then, and everyone needs to hear when they are tempted to be immoral.

I’m talking to you – whoever you are out there reading this who has been the other woman or man and not cared. Who will probably do it again. Who feels like it’s not their own problem if someone cheats with them. Who justifies it to themselves with excuses.

Of course, the cheating person is doing something just as bad as you. In fact, it’s worse since they’re the one who made commitments and promises of fidelity and monogamy to someone then broke them. I don’t believe that the other person is “a homewrecker” – the person who chose to cheat is the one wrecking their home. But don’t use this as an excuse to get yourself off the hook. Don’t think that all the fault lies on them and you’re not doing anything wrong.

Here is your tough love: Stop doing hurtful, selfish shit! Don’t be that person! You’re better than this – or you should want to be!

Anyway, even though he did break up with his girlfriend, he didn’t want to jump from one relationship into another. I didn’t get what I wanted in the end.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here – you’re probably not going to end up with that taken person. The majority of the time, the taken person will stay with their partner. Or if they cheat with you, they will cheat on you. How could you ever trust them anyway?

Why do you think that you’re such a special snowflake that you are the taken person’s first priority and they’d never do to you what they did to their partner?

Just walk away. If someone is flirting with you in a bar, ask if they have a partner – if they do, tell them you are not interested even if you are super fucking interested and walk away. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.

If you are alone in a room with a taken someone and sparks are flying, choose to not be alone with that person again. Don’t be drunk around taken people you find tempting.

If you fall for a married person and they fall for you – tell them to come back when they’re single. If they are really unhappy in their marriage they will end it. You don’t want to start your relationship in that way. You deserve a healthy, happy, relationship. If you want someone to grow old happily with, give yourself the best chance. If you can’t bring yourself to feel sympathy for this faceless stranger who you are hurting, then at least do it for yourself and your future well-being.

If you don’t feel sympathy for their partner whatsoever – fine, feel no sympathy then walk away anyway. If you can’t imagine their pain, if you can’t put yourself in their shoes – who cares! Do the right thing anyway. Yes, in an ideal world you’d feel so terrible at the thought of hurting someone that you would walk away, but if you don’t feel that way, walk away anyway just because it is the right thing to do.

Do the right thing. Don’t let actions like this taint your image and identity.

No this is not 100% of who you are. You may be a loving, wonderful friend. You may be intelligent and interesting and think you’re pretty awesome overall. You may give to charity and volunteer and pray every night, but at the end of the day, you have to face up to the fact that if you want to consider yourself a good person, then you have to act like a good person in this aspect of your life too.

It is okay to have feelings for taken people. Strong feelings. Huge, giant, overwhelming crushes even. Feelings don’t make you a bad person, but you can’t act on them. If you want to be a good, moral, person, you simply can’t do stuff like this. You can’t act on selfish feelings when the outcome is so much hurt for another person. It’s not fair. Is it really the kind of thing you want to be doing?

You can put this behaviour behind you and try your absolute best to move on.

You may slip up again one day. Bad habits are hard to break. But I hope at least you feel awful. I hope you feel guilt. I hope you will see it as a mistake, and work hard on avoiding situations where this can happen again.

Work on yourself. Work on your self-worth. Work on being more empathetic and sympathetic and kind. Work on being less selfish. Work on knowing not all strong feelings are worth considering, even if it seems impossible. Know that in the future, you won’t feel this way any more, and your future self will be full of regret if you do act.

If you find yourself continually fucking up in this way, get help. You are not only hurting the partner, you are sabotaging your own happiness by getting into affairs that are unlikely to end the way you want them. Get counselling or therapy and work on yourself.

Stop making excuses, realise it was wrong, and do your best to make it right.







It’s not because you’re “Too Nice”.

girls like jerks


Someone on my Facebook feed recently liked the image above and it annoyed me enough to write about it.

Here’s the short summary of my opinion on it: No.

Just no.

No woman ever thinks to herself “You know what I really look for in a guy? Someone who is really mean to me. God, there is nothing worse than being treated nicely and with respect.”

More no.

Nobody actively seeks out someone who treats them like crap. If a woman ends up in an abusive relationship, it is not because that was her dream guy and she hates being treated nicely. No, it is far more complicated than that.

Abusers follow a pretty typical pattern: Find a girl with low self-esteem who desperately wants to feel loved. Treat her like a queen at first and she falls for him. Make her feel as though she can do no better than him and she is better off with him than alone. Subtly lower her self-esteem further. Slowly manipulate her into doing what he wants and punishing her (with words, guilt trips, tears, anger) when she doesn’t do what he wants. Isolate her from her friends by making her think they are bad for her or by making her feel guilty every time she hangs out with them. He will often manipulate her by talking about all his problems or the people who have hurt him before so she feels like she has to go out of her way to be the perfect girlfriend for him, unlike the hurtful people from his past. If she tries to leave, he will often threaten suicide or threaten to harm her so she feels she cannot leave. If he is abusive towards her, he convinces her it is her fault because she did something (or many things) wrong in his eyes… this just makes her try harder to please him, rather than leave him. Often the woman will stick around through the bad times because in his good moments an abuser is the most loving, charming, and kind man she has ever met. He apologises for the bad times and promises it won’t happen again. She sticks around hoping he will change and that if she is supportive enough and loving enough, he will be the man she first fell for. Spoiler alert: He almost definitely won’t.

If you ever find yourself thinking that a woman who stays with an abuser is asking for it, stupid, etc., please try and be more understanding. It is not so black and white. This is a woman who has very low self-worth and needs people to build her up, not bring her down further. This is someone living under a thick layer of manipulation that makes it hard to see the truth.

But abusers aside… saying women don’t like you because you are “too nice” or “not a jerk” is problematic for many reasons.

Firstly – not every woman in the world will like you. That is obvious. You can be attractive, funny, charming, intelligent, kind, interesting, and successful and there will still be thousands of women out there for whom you are simply not what they are looking for. Maybe they are into other things. Maybe they simply don’t feel the spark. Whatever the reason, nobody is obligated to like you. Stop acting entitled to the attention of a woman or women. She is allowed whatever standards she wants, just like men are.

If you ever find yourself complaining that a woman only sees you as a friend, or has, “put you in the friendzone” (ugh, I hate that term) think about what you are really saying: “She should want to date me. The fact that she doesn’t want to date me means that she is being unfair or not giving me a proper chance.” No, she can like or dislike whoever she wants. There is something, or multiple things about you that she isn’t into, and that’s her choice. Hell, it’s probably out of her control; she simply likes what she likes and you aren’t it, sorry. She doesn’t have to explain it to you, she doesn’t have to “give it a try” to see if she changes her mind. The fact that she still sees you as a worthwhile friend despite not being attracted to you or not feeling like you’d work as a couple, shows that she is a nice human being who wants you in her life – great! Men and women can be friends.

I’m not saying it doesn’t suck. Of course liking someone who doesn’t like you back sucks. You have every right to feel gutted about it, and if you choose to no longer be friends with her until you can get over her, that’s fine. You do what you need to do to move on. But don’t put those bad feelings on her. Don’t make her feel guilty for simply exercising her right to say no or wanting to just be friends. Don’t make her feel like her value as a friend is gone the second that dating or sex is off the table. Don’t make her feel as though you were only kind to her in the hopes of it leading to something more. Appreciate a woman’s friendship even if you initially hoped for more.

Secondly, just because you personally cannot see the appeal in a guy you deem a “jerk” or “asshole”, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I once dated a guy who some other guys at his school told me was arrogant. We dated for a year and I never saw it. He never spoke a bad word about anyone, and stopped to talk to guys from his school from all walks of life. He got along with everyone and it never seemed put on or fake to me. He never talked himself up or treated me like I was less than him in any way. Yet a guy told me I was too good for him, and a girl told him he was too good for me. This really annoyed me. You really can’t judge a relationship looking in from the outside. You don’t know what makes a good match. You don’t know how the couple act behind closed doors. That guy you think is an asshole may be a wonderful friend and boyfriend. Maybe you and him just don’t click! Again, not everyone will like everyone else.

Also, if a girl is going for guys you think are terrible and she isn’t in an abusive relationship – that’s her choice! She is perfectly entitled to go for whatever qualities she wants. Just like some men only go for hot airheads who you would never date – so what? If they are both happy with the situation, then all the more power to them. If that is her type, and you are not, then you are not compatible. Would you really want to date a woman whose interests in men are so different from you? Don’t hold it against her or judge her for it, just accept that she is not for you and move on.

Thirdly, being nice is not the only important thing in a relationship. It is not some super rare and wonderful quality. It is the absolute baseline requirement. If “nice” is all you have going for you, you’re going to find it tough to find someone who is into you. Sure, you’re nice – but that guy over there is nice and he’s funny, intelligent, has really interesting hobbies, and volunteers at the SPCA. That other guy may seem like a jerk to you, but he’s nice to her, confident, charming, sexy, dresses well and is very dedicated to his sports teams. He’s Nice-PLUS. You can’t just be nice and nothing else. It’s boring. Would you go for a girl who has nothing else going for her but that she’s nice when there are other girls out there who are Nice-PLUS? I don’t think so.

Fourth: Too-Nice tends to mean “doormat.” Nobody wants to date a doormat – if they do, they probably just want to use someone and so should be avoided. A guy who is too-nice has no opinions of his own. He’ll bend over backwards to please her at all times and doesn’t give her much space. He’ll do whatever she wants, never offering up ideas of his own. He doesn’t challenge any of her opinions. He sucks up to her and always agrees with everything she does or says. He puts her on a pedestal and treats her more like an angel or goddess than an actual human being. He spends all his money on her and is over-the-top with his gooey sentiments. He doesn’t take part in banter or joking around with her. A too-nice guy probably has no distinguishing qualities other than that he is nice. He has nothing going on in his own life so he can spend all his time trying to woo the girl. In short, he’s boring.

In conclusion: Just like men, women can like whoever they want and your opinion on the matter really doesn’t count. If she ends up in an abusive relationship, then she needs supportive friends more than ever, even though it is frustrating.

If she doesn’t like you, big deal, get over it, move on. Not everyone will like you. Nobody is entitled to like you or give you a shot. Appreciate her friendship and it may lead to dates with her friends in the future! If you ask a woman out and treat her “no” with respect, and still remain a friend of hers, she will be more likely to tell her friends to date you. Being rejected sucks, but it’s really not the end of the world.

If you think you may be the Too-Nice doormat type, it isn’t too late to grow a backbone. Focus on your own life, passions, interests, and self-improvement and you will likely be far more successful than pandering to a girl then complaining when she goes for “a jerk” instead.

PS: I know the word “jerk” isn’t common in NZ, but it’s the word in the image that was Liked so I am rolling with it.

PPS: It is not only women who can be victims in an abusive relationship. Men can be controlled, manipulated, and abused too. For the sake of this blog post it was easier to keep it male / female as a response to the image. Women definitely seem to get more flack than men for “going for jerks” and apparently ignoring nice guys, although I guess the male equivalent is women complaining when a guy goes for a “bimbo” over her. Yeah, it can suck when you feel like you are nicer and smarter than a girl who is picked over you, but at the end of the day, that’s his choice – get over it. There are billions more people out there, and if he didn’t like you, he wasn’t right for you.




How I Lost 10kg


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I have recently lost just over 10kg and plan to keep going. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. I am not saying this is the best way to lose weight, I’m just saying what worked for me. Perhaps in a perfect world we’d all be vegan and only eating organic foods from the markets, etc. etc. but I’m not telling you the perfect way to eat, just a way that I found easy to stick to. I’d love to have the will power to eat “perfectly”, but I just can’t. In the end, you’re only going to keep the weight off if you have a weight-loss plan you find easy to stick to. It will be different from person to person. Here’s what is working for me.

Finding motivation

I found it very easy not to lose weight. My body wasn’t causing me any problems and I didn’t hate my body or find disgust in it. I liked my boobs. My self-esteem was healthy. I thought I was pretty awesome despite being overweight and I had people interested in me sexually and romantically so it wasn’t like being overweight was ruining my life. I liked eating junk food when I felt like it and didn’t enjoy exercise.

Sure, I had things I wanted to change about myself – I would have loved a slimmer tummy, butt and thighs if it meant I could keep the boobs – and I had the occasional bad day where I’d try on so many outfits and think they all looked crap on me, but who hasn’t? I also used to find it very frustrating that my skinnier friends would get approached over me while out clubbing almost every time. I made it a rule to never be second pick, and to only date people who hit on me first instead of after a slim friend turned them down.

My attitude at the time was: “I would rather be chubby and not have to exercise or watch what I eat than be slim and on a diet”.

Before I could even get started on my weight loss journey, that attitude had to go. You can’t start trying to lose weight if you don’t see the benefits as outweighing the work that will have to go in. You have to seriously think that it will all be worth it in the end, and that you would rather be slim and healthy than chubby and free to eat junk all the time.

So how did I get there?

First, it’s because I gained more weight. I had been a size 12 dress for years, and while I would snack on junk food, I still had pretty healthy meals. I was definitely a comfort eater though; I’d buy chocolate if I had a bad day or period pain, for example.

Then I got the role of Tracy in Hairspray and I knew that despite wearing a fat-suit, it would look weird if I didn’t stay chubby. I took the rehearsal period as a time to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I was also a student at the time and under a lot of stress trying to keep up with my studies while rehearsing most nights. If I felt like McDonald’s, I would eat it. I would buy a block of chocolate and work my way through it as I wrote an essay. I would buy chips and lollies for lunch.

I went up a dress size. Now size 14, in my opinion, still isn’t that big a size, but it was so depressing trying on dresses I’ve worn for years and struggling to get the zip up. Not being able to wear a lot of my favourite dresses any more was a motivating factor.

Next came plenty of photos that I thought I looked huge in. I think that was the wake-up call. I saw myself how, I assume, other people saw me, and wanted to make a change.

It should be added that I was in a relationship through all of this (still am). One day I said to him, “does it bother you that I’ve gained so much weight?” and he looked really confused and said “I didn’t realise you had. You look the same.” Bless his heart. I believed him. It was nice to know that even at my biggest he still thought I was hot.

The other big motivator was the next show coming up: Mamma Mia. After a boozy sing-along to Mamma Mia songs at a party, I realised I really, really, wanted the role of Sophie, and I knew that wasn’t likely to happen at the weight I was. If I had it my way, the best singer / dancer / actor for the role would get it, no matter what they looked like, but that’s not the world we live in – yet. Leading ladies tend to be slim. If you want something badly enough, you have to work for it. This won’t be the only show with roles I want in it, and I don’t want my weight to put me out of the running. In case you didn’t know already, no, I didn’t get the role, but I’m having fun in the ensemble and I’m not giving up on the weight loss journey!

Things that motivated me

  • I want to get lead roles in musicals
  • I want to be more fit
  • I want to be able to wear a larger variety of outfits (so many dress styles that are very unflattering on anyone who is chubby but that I’d love to wear one day)
  • I don’t want to feel self-conscious on the beach
  • I want to be more flexible (for dancing)

Things I learned to realise

  • The weight isn’t going to come off quickly, and to not get put off by the time it takes. If I have a day where I eat junk, then that doesn’t mean give up, it means try again tomorrow and do better.
  • That I’m not going on a diet, I’m making healthy changes for life. This was the hard one – to commit myself to something for life. It’s easy to commit to a weeklong detox, but less easy to realise you need to make changes and stick to them forever. I know I can’t just go on a diet then go back to the way I was eating. I don’t want to lose weight, feel great about it, and then just put it all back on. I have to be healthy, always, to keep it off.

How I did it

First I did my research. I spent a lot of time browsing subreddits on such as r/loseit, r/progresspics and r/xxfitness.

The thing that kept coming up again and again is: calorie counting.

I think calorie counting has a bad rep. There are so many articles with titles like “lose weight without counting calories!” and they make it sound like anyone who does count calories is boring and spending way too much time worrying about what they eat. “Just eat healthy instead!” they say.

Well I found calorie counting a really helpful tool in educating myself about what really is healthy and how to eat the yummy stuff in moderation.

When I was a student I had a friend who was calorie counting, and at the time, chubby junk-food eater that I was, I found it annoying: What do you mean you can’t have a glass of wine with us because you spent your calories on M&M’s and popcorn? Who cares, a glass of wine won’t hurt!

That attitude is what makes it hard for people to calorie count. Their friends seem to think they’re being too strict and rigid about it and that surely one slice of cake isn’t going to stop them losing weight.

Well I’m here to say that calorie counting worked for me, it works for tons of people, and it was easier than people make it out to be.

PS: Anyone who has used Weight Watchers will know that it is essentially the same premise as counting calories, except they give a number value to products that correlates with the amount of calories in them.

I used MyFitnessPal is an online calorie counting website. They have a database of every food you can think of, and if it’s not in there, you can add it to the database yourself using the nutritional info off the back of the packet.

They gave me a daily calorie goal of 1200 calories a day (you can count KJ instead if you prefer). Other websites think this is too few for my height, weight, and gender, and recommend around 1400-1500, so I keep this in mind and don’t feel bad if I go over the 1200. Normally, because of what I eat each day, I don’t need to go over it anyway.

You can imput your exercise, and that extends the amount of calories you can eat that day. For example, if I put in that I did 45 minutes of Zumba, it says I can eat an extra 475 calories. That’s a lot. Usually I don’t eat the extra calories from exercise, but if I have exercised and I’m feeling hungry later in the evening I don’t feel bad about going over the 1200 limit. I read in a blog that someone plateaued and wasn’t losing any more weight despite calorie counting and exercising, and they decided to eat the extra calories “gained” by exercising, and they found that the weight started coming off again. It’s not an exact science, so play around with it and do what works for you.

On MyFitnessPal you can save meals. When you first start out it seems a bit time consuming looking up all the ingredients in your dinner, but when you’ve done it once, you can save those ingredients into a Meal, and next time you cook it you can add it from your meals list without looking up all the ingredients in it. Plus, often people have made similar meals to you. For example if I use an Old El Paso Fajita Kit, other people may have added their own meal to the database: “Old El Paso Fajita kit with chicken breast and red capsicum” so I don’t need to. I like to try new recipes, but I have plenty of new favourites now, so I hardly ever need to look up ingredients as I have a long Meal list.

MyfitnessPal has recommendations of how much sugar, fat, carbs, etc. you should be eating within that calorie count and tells you if you’ve gone over it. So yes, technically, you could only eat chocolate one day and still be within your daily limit, but you will be far over the sugar count, and you won’t be getting the nutrients you need! The key is to combine healthy eating with calorie counting, rather than trying to fit junk food into your calorie count.

It’s not about restricting certain types of food

Plenty of people have weight-loss success from cutting food types out of their diets. Subreddits like r/keto are big advocates for a low-carb diet and that works for a lot of people. Other websites recommend cutting out sugar altogether. This can work too. In the FAQ page for r/loseit, they said that these diets work because a low carb diet or a low sugar diet are simply low calorie diets. I’m sure there’s more to it than that but…

For me personally, I had to remind myself that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I had to think to myself: can I give up carbs forever? Can I give up sweet treats forever? I have a real sweet tooth and many of my favourite foods have carbs in them (such as wraps and brown rice) so the answer ended up being no. It came down to “everything in moderation” being something I will find much easier to stick to forever. I can still have the things I love, just not all the time and not in huge quantities. My will power isn’t the greatest, so I need my weight-loss plan to be something I find easy to stick to, and by not cutting out food groups altogether, I am much more likely to stick with this for the long haul. But that’s just me! Do what works for you.

It’s fun finding out how many calories are in things

Once you do, you’re like, holy shit – no wonder I’m overweight!


  • That whittakers creamy milk chocolate block I worked through while writing an essay? 1400 calories. Over my whole day’s allowance. Seems obvious, right? Don’t eat a whole block of chocolate, fatty… but over an entire evening of essay writing you’d be surprised how the pieces go and go.
  • Those four pieces of Hell’s Lust Pizza you had for dinner? 924 calories. That leaves you 274 calories for your day. If you are the type to eat a whole pizza you’re downing 1848 calories in one meal! That’s well over your daily count before even factoring in anything else you ate that day.
  • Big Mac Combo? 824 calories. Big Mac on its own is 494 calories.
  • Slice of chocolate cake? Around 300 calories.
  • That bag of pretzels you snacked on while watching a movie? 731 calories.
  • Four squares of black forest chocolate is 252 calories.
  • Two Guylian seashell chocolates? 130 calories. So many calories for something so small!
  • Bottle of Heineken? 150 calories. So if you are the binge drinking type and have, say, 7, that’s 1050 calories just on drinks.
  • Even a Jim Beam and diet coke is 65 calories and that’s one of the lower calorie options when it comes to alcohol.

So it made me realise, if I want to have those things I need to fit them into my count. I’m not going to go hungry just so I can have a few pieces of chocolate, so most days I’ll go without junk food and feel better for it. The days I do want something I have a smaller amount than usual (calorie counting is a good way to become really good at portion control!) or I’ll make sure everything else I eat that day is low calorie.

I find lower calorie options to satisfy cravings

I often crave chocolate in the evenings. Having an Avalanche sugar-free hot chocolate with trim milk (84 calories) gets rid of that craving.

Fruit also makes for a nice sweet treat.

Juicies iceblocks are only 45 calories and chocolate Paddlepops are 79 calories so those are good alternatives if you want an icecream or iceblock.

Like I said, I don’t eat 100% healthy all the time, so when I do have a treat I try and look at which is the lower calorie option.

I have cheat days

If a friend is having a party, or we are catching up and having some yummy snacks, I don’t count calories that day, and I just eat what I want. It keeps me sane, and while it may slow down the weight loss process slightly, it’s made it easier to stick to in the long run. Also I’ve found that over time I crave junk food less and less. I also make sure not to go overboard on cheat days – I don’t have McDonalds for every meal or anything. I usually stick with my normal breakfast and lunch then don’t worry about going out for takeaways or having lots of lollies for dessert.

I also think about whether the junk food on offer is something I actually want. If chocolate biscuits are on offer and I don’t even feel like one, I won’t mindlessly eat it because it’s there. I’m a more mindful eater. After eating say, a chocolate bar, I think about how I feel – was it really that great? Usually the answer is no and I remind myself of that the next time I am at the supermarket. I think to myself that losing weight will make me far happier than eating that chocolate bar will. This way when I do have a treat, it’s worth it because I know I really want it and it’s not as common an occurrence. Similarly, when I’m not feeling motivated to head out the door to Zumba, I remind myself how much I enjoy it when I’m there and how great I feel afterwards.

I don’t need to calorie count any more

For a while, I was strict about tracking what I ate every day. After about a month of doing that, I found I didn’t need to any more unless I was looking up something I hadn’t eaten before or if I was tempted to eat a sweet treat and was curious about it. I’m a creature of habit and I eat pretty much the same thing every day without it bothering me, so I’ve learnt how many calories are in the things I commonly eat and no longer need to track them.

I love to cook healthy recipes

My absolute favourite magazine is New Zealand Healthy Food Guide. I never struggle to find ingredients as they are all available here, and they keep the recipes simple. They also list how many calories are in each meal. Perfect! I feel so good about myself after chopping up fresh herbs and veggies for a meal.

I got the family on board

The whole family are on the weight loss journey together. My parents have both lost over 10kg each themselves! We know we all have a sweet tooth and that we don’t have the best willpower at times so if there is junk food in the house we will most likely eat it… so we simply don’t have it in the house. We make each other smoothies, cook healthy meals, and decided it was The Year of Motivation in our house. This means if someone suggests exercise, like walking the dog, we have to say yes instead of making excuses. This is a work in progress, haha.

What I typically eat in a day

Breakfast: Bowl of Kelloggs Sultana Bran with trim milk (278 calories)

Lunch: Smoothie made with trim milk, Healtheries Naturally Slim Vanilla smoothie powder, a handful of frozen strawberries, and a tablespoon of Yoplait Delite mixed berry yoghurt. (245 calories)

Or: Four cruskits with mango chutney, cherry tomatoes, and a little bit of cheese (151 calories)

Or: Four cruskits with marmite and cheese (234 calories)

And: A piece of fruit. Apple (about 90 calories), or Mandarin (37 calories)

Snack: Ten almonds (69 calories)

Dinner: This leaves anywhere from 500-700 calories for dinner. You can make pretty decent meals for that.

Some of the meals I have saved to my Meals list on MyFitnessPal:

Chicken and Chorizo Paella: Chicken, chorizo, garlic, lemon zest, green beans, parsley, rosemary, brown rice, chicken stock (358 calories)

Vegetarian Mexican Pizza: Wholemeal pita bread base, Salsa, four bean mix, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum, red onion, avocado, little bit of cheese (558 calories)

Lamb and CousCous Meatball Wrap: lamb mince, wholemeal couscous, wholemeal wrap, spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas (636 calories)

Chicken and Chickpea Rice Salad: Brown rice, chickpeas, chicken, cherry tomatoes, spinach leaves, pesto (510 calories)

Sweet and Sour Sesame Chicken Burger: Wholemeal hamburger bun, lite sour cream, chicken breast, beetroot slices, carrot slices, liquid honey, sweet soy sauce, side of salad (541 calories)

Italian Steak Salad Stack (see photo below): Beef steak, pumpkin, kumara, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, wholemeal pita bread, pesto, marinade (631 calories)  

Anna's italian steak salad stack

They are all so tasty.

I found exercise I enjoy

Once again, it’s all about what you are able to stick to. I love to dance, so I go to Zumba twice a week at the gym. Once you’ve done a dance a few times and know the moves, it’s much easier to get really into it and go hard. I usually end up exhausted by the end of it, although I have seen my fitness improve! I also enjoy Centergy classes which is a mix of Yoga and Pilates. If you think Yoga is easy, try a class like this. It’s great for strengthening muscles and getting flexible. I am often sore (in a good way) the next day. I also like swimming lengths in an indoor pool, and walking the dog with my family, although it’s a lot harder to find the motivation to do those now that it’s so cold! Now that I’m in a musical that rehearses three times a week, it clashes with a Zumba class and two Centergy classes, but luckily we do little work-outs at rehearsal. I taught my sister three of the Zumba dances I had memorised and we take the whole Mamma Mia cast through them as a work-out, which is fun! I’ve also started doing Zumba in the lounge with my sister and a friend to make up for the missed gym class.

I literally only use my gym membership to go to classes because that’s the only thing I enjoy. If I don’t enjoy it, I find it hard to do it. I know some people see exercise as a necessity and just suck it up and do it even if they don’t like it, but I’m not there yet. I still find it hard to leave the house and actually do it if I know I’m going to hate it (eg. running) so I try to fit in exercise I actually enjoy instead. If I enjoy it, I’m more likely to show up rather than make excuses.

That’s pretty much it

To sum up: I lost 10kg by finding motivation, calorie counting, portion control, being more mindful of what I eat, finding exercise I enjoy, cooking healthy meals, and getting the family on board too. Oh, and I am back into those size 12 dresses and that feels really great!



How to Audition for a Musical (in 70 simple and not-at-all-excessive steps!)


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Yeah so I may go overboard at audition time. Nobody can accuse me of being unprepared!

1)      Decide there’s no way you’re doing another show. You might be busy and besides, this one will be a fun one to go see!

2)      Have a boozy sing-along at a party to one of the songs from the show and realise how much you love these songs.

3)      Suddenly become absolutely desperate to get the role.

4)      Go to the pre-audition meeting.

5)      Be bored because it’s all stuff you already knew.

6)      Be excited nonetheless.

7)      Want to ask director what they mean by a song “in the style of” the show but someone beats you to it.

8)      Still be confused about it after their response.

9)      Realise you need to lose weight in order to be leading lady material.

10)   Zumba. Yoga-Pilates. Calorie-counting.

11)   Watch the movie version of the musical. Twice.

12)   Research the show thoroughly.

13)   Watch YouTube clips of scenes from the stage show.

14)   Listen to the Broadway version of the songs online.

15)   Prepare five different potential audition songs plus the required piece for that character.

16)   Sing all six daily.

17)   Discuss with theatre friends and family the merits and flaws of each.

18)   Ponder what exactly they mean by a song “in the style of” the show.

19)   End up choosing a song that is not at all in the style of the show but is something you love to sing and shows off your range.

20)   Think of what you will say if the director asks why you chose this song. Think of how you can relate it back to the storyline of the character you are going for.

21)   Take vitamins and immunity boosters religiously while drinking lots of water to try desperately not to get sick before the audition.

22)   Pick a dress for the dance workshops in a bright colour so you will stand out.

23)   Go to the dance workshops.

24)   Do dance over and over at home with your sister.

25)   Get brother to give feedback on your dancing.

26)   Teach brother dance.

27)   Realise you’ve lost 8kg. Success!

28)   Get PMS and stare at yourself in the mirror and cry, realising you’re still way off your goal-weight and your damn weight is holding you back from getting the roles you dream of! LIFE IS SO UNFAIR. WHY IS FOOD SO GOOD?

29)   Wake up the next day and realise you were being silly (damn hormones!) and should try your best anyway.

30)   Practise dialogue you found online in multiple accents.

31)   Rehearse with pianist and try to take their feedback on board.

32)   Get all excited about auditions coming up.

33)   Ring theatre friend to find out every detail about how his audition went.

34)   Try on half your wardrobe to find the perfect audition dress.

35)   Invite theatre friend over to help pick a dress.

36)   Ponder whether you should wear a super flattering dress that shows off your weight-loss, or one that is more in the style of the character.

37)   Wear the one you look hot in.

38)   Get excited that you can fit that dress again!

39)   Fill out your audition form on the computer, ensuring you’re really selling yourself.

40)   Pin-curl your hair the night before the audition and sleep in them.

41)   Stay up late because of the anticipation.

42)   Instead of sleeping, iron and lay out your outfit for the morning and get all your sheet music taped together.

43)   Google whether or not lack of sleep affects your singing.

44)   Freak out when you read about how it does, and try to sleep.

45)   Spend ages tossing and turning. Wake up throughout the night.

46)   Wake up in the morning, take out the hair-pins and end up with MASSIVE, wild, crazy curls rather than the soft waves you’d hoped for.

47)   Straighten hair while doing vocal warm-ups.

48)   Carefully plan what you can eat for breakfast that won’t affect your vocals.

49)   Create a no-makeup makeup look and bronze any skin that’s showing.

50)   Freak out because when you try to print your audition form the printer isn’t working and you don’t have time to print it elsewhere. You’ll have to fill it out by hand like some kind of savage! THIS IS UNNEEDED STRESS RIGHT NOW.

51)   Be annoyed that we suddenly have no drink bottles in the entire house.

52)   Sing audition songs on the way there.

53)   Get there and see a beautiful girl about to audition.

54)   Listen to her sing from outside the room. She’s good. Damnit!

55)   “Well that’s it, she’s getting the role, guess I better be happy with ensemble.”

56)   Listen to your sister sing from outside the room. She sounds great!

57)   Start pinning all your hopes and dreams on her getting the role.

58)   Listen to your Dad sing from outside the room. He sounds great!

59)   “Damn him, he puts in nowhere near as much effort to his auditions as I do but he still does so well!”

60)   Oh God, it’s my turn.

61)   Get super nervous.

62)   Sing song. Get really into it. Belt it! Try to remember to move around. Act.

63)   Get so nervous for big notes at the end that they end up way more lacklustre than usual.

64)   Shake and get pins and needles in your hands.

65)   Sing other song. Get really into it. Try to remember to move round. Act.

66)   Read some dialogue. Be unsure what accent to use so go with British and wonder if it worked.

67)   Be told, “Are you aware that you sung your song in an American accent but read the dialogue in a British accent?”

68)   Laugh. “Oh yeah… that was totally intentional…” Joke around.

69)   Be told by the musical director that it was “a great audition”.

70)   Leave happy with how it turned out and wondering what the hell you are going to do with your time now that you don’t have this to obsess over.

Roast Busters

roast busters

I didn’t think I would need to write a blog post about the Roast Busters because it has been talked about and written about so much that I figured everyone else had it covered just fine and would be able to articulate their concerns more clearly than I could.

I was also mistaken in thinking that none of my friends and acquaintances would think that what those boys did was in any way acceptable…until I went to a birthday dinner last Friday.

The topic of the Roast Busters came up and it started a conversation between myself, a male friend, and a male acquaintance. I felt like I couldn’t get much of a word in, and after a certain comment about the way women dress, I felt so disappointed, appalled and frankly a little upset, that I said, “I can’t be around you right now” and walked away. When I returned, my friend apologised for poor choice of words and said I had misunderstood him (and perhaps I did). Now that I am more sober, and have a little time to put what I was trying to say then into words, I’ll respond to some of the ideas these men expressed. Disclaimer: These are not direct quotes, and I hope I don’t misrepresent them. They are also views I’ve heard expressed by others, but I didn’t think I’d hear them in my circle of friends. My responses are aimed at the ideas expressed in general; I am not speaking directly to the men I mentioned.

  • Their behaviour isn’t the problem; it’s social media that’s the problem.

I wrote about cyber bullying in an assignment for my teaching diploma. The one thing that I got from that research is that it is not the technology that is the problem. Bullies will be bullies in any way they can, and the internet is just another way for them to hurt others. The internet can also be a way to do good, spread awareness, fundraise, etc. The Roast Busters just used this technology to share their views and actions with lots of people, and now they are getting more attention than they bargained for.

In this case, it is very much the boys’ behaviour that is the problem, not the technology. These are boys who have little respect for women. They think it is okay to get women so drunk they agree (or don’t) to let several guys sleep with them, then shame them for it online. Maybe some of these teenage girls really did think it would be “cool” to take part in this, and wilfully consented. But I have to wonder, what 13-17 year old girls would be up for this? How emotionally mature are they? How stable and secure are their lives? How high is their self-esteem?

I read a great article (which I will try find) about a woman who had a very troubled upbringing. Her father openly hated her, and she didn’t get much love or attention from her mother either. When she was thirteen / fourteen, she craved love and attention, and found it online in chat rooms. She told men how young she was and they flirted with her, told her she was beautiful, said that they wanted to be her boyfriend, and asked to meet up. She wrote that they’d all use her for sex and then leave, and she’d be left thinking that they were going to love her and be her boyfriend. She consented to the sex, but was not emotionally mature enough to see what was really going on and was very hurt and upset by the way these men treated her. Her point was that just because a fourteen year old girl is capable of consenting to sex, it doesn’t mean that men, particularly older men in her case, should be free to take advantage of any girl from a bad background who is looking for love and attention in the wrong places. These girls need help and protection, not a “you are 100% responsible for every decision you make” attitude that ignores their upbringing, age, maturity, and vulnerability to being preyed upon by people who don’t give a shit about them.

I like to think I am open minded about sex, and I know that when I was in high school there were fourteen year olds having sex, but for the most part it was with their boyfriends at the time. Two young people who love each other and care about each other having mutually consensual sex. Maybe I am being naïve in my little middle class bubble when I say that if a young teen thought getting “roasted” by several guys – knowing that it would be talked about online, knowing that they do it to many other women – was a good idea, they aren’t emotionally mature enough to be making those kinds of decisions, and that the boys who roasted them are possibly taking advantage. It took me until I was in my early 20’s to have enough self-esteem and self-confidence to be okay with casual sex, and even then I treaded some murky emotional waters where I got attached or felt a bit used. It takes a strong, confident person with high self-esteem and a “who cares what anyone thinks, I’m going to enjoy myself and have some no-strings fun” attitude to take part in consensual, group, casual sex. I personally don’t think many teenage girls are there yet. And if they are, they’d be mature enough to want to have that casual fun with people who respect them as a person, respect their privacy, and want them to have a great time. Not a group of teenage boys who get girls wasted, brag about their conquests online and treat the women like meat. On that note…

  • The statutory rape laws don’t make sense. Lots of teenagers under sixteen have sex with each other consensually.

Of course they do. There are varying levels of maturity among teenagers. When I look at fourteen year olds now, for the most part they look so young to me. They seem like they are still children. Yet I remember feeling grown up and mature at age fourteen. I remember most of my friends dating at that age (and younger, though intermediate boyfriends weren’t all that serious). But just because fourteen year olds date and sometimes have sex, doesn’t mean every single one of them is emotionally mature and capable of handling all the baggage that can surround sex. Not all of them will make great decisions. Not all of them will be strong enough to say “no” if the pressure is put on (by peers, or by someone they are dating). Not all of them are perfect drinkers who know their limits and know not to let others mix their drinks. Not all of them have high self-esteem, respect for themselves, and high standards for themselves. Not all of them come from loving, supportive backgrounds.

Someone doesn’t turn thirteen and suddenly become totally capable of making great choices. They still need protection and guidance, and they need support when people take advantage of them and prey on them. The law exists to stop people, particularly older people, thinking people below sixteen are okay to take advantage of. The law exists because young teens don’t often know what is best for them. It is not designed to stop two fifteen year olds who are in love from having consensual sex, it is designed to help those who feel wronged or hurt by a situation, or taken advantage of, or raped.

The Roast Busters is a very different situation from two teenagers, in a relationship, having some drinks together and having sex. This is a group of guys who think it is cool to get girls drunk, take turns having sex with them, and shame them online… and girls went to the police over it. It’s two very different situations, and to compare them is pointless. I don’t see how anyone can act like it was just a bunch of guys having fun at parties, when some girls were clearly so upset by what happened that they went to the police.

  • Those radio hosts weren’t out of line for asking if the girls involved actually wanted it. The girls probably did want it.

Firstly, no I don’t think it is some radio hosts’ place to suggest that any potential victim of trauma is lying about it. It’s unnecessarily insensitive. At the time, my response to this was that if the girls were happy about the situation, why had there been three complaints to the police? To which the men replied:

  • They probably regretted it the next day so lied and said it was rape.

This is the one I have the biggest problem with. I did a little research on false rape allegations. Data varies, but the general consensus seems to be that the number of women who falsely accuse someone of rape is between 2% and 10% (which is about the same as false allegations of other crimes), however it is likely to be far less than that because, as studies of false reporting in New Zealand found, police can misapply the “no-crime” or “unfounded” criteria. Some officers have fixed views on what a rape victim should look like and how they should behave, and others interpret lack of evidence or a withdrawal of complaint as proof of a false allegation.

Even if we took out all of those variables, and assumed for a minute that it was the higher end of the spectrum – that 10% of women who go to the police and say they are raped are, in fact, lying about it – that would still mean that 9/10 of the women who say they are raped, are telling the truth. That’s a majority. When a woman says that she has been raped, chances are she is telling the truth. So why on earth do people think it is okay to act as if it is the opposite? Why would these friends of mine hear about three women complaining to the police about the same group of teenage boys – boys who “jokingly” refer to themselves as rapists on their Facebook page and write things like “go ahead, tell the police, they can’t un-rape you” – and assume all three of them must be in that very small percent of women who make false claims?

Besides which, how fucked up would you have to be to regret sex so much that you are willing to ruin a guy’s life over it? That you care about your reputation so much that you’d rather a guy went to jail than have to acknowledge that you had group sex? It can happen, particularly in a culture that shames girls for having sex, but it’s just so unlikely a situation that to accuse these girls of doing it seems wildly against the odds.

  • Some girls draw negative attention and disrespect from men by the way they dress. They attract people who will treat them like shit if they dress that way.

Maybe this is true. Maybe douchebag guys do target girls who dress a certain way. But even if this is true, what is the point of saying it in a conversation about Roast Busters? Are you making this statement in order to show how shitty society / some men can be in their disrespect of women? Or are you bringing it up to blame a girl for bringing on bad treatment by not dressing conservatively? I’m guessing the latter. If you bring this up you are implying that there are certain situations where a girl is to blame for negative treatment from men, simply because of how she looks. You are saying there are certain situations where it is okay for men to treat a woman like shit. You are letting men off the hook. You are giving them a pass. You are saying it is okay for them to treat another human being badly, simply because of what they wear. You are telling a woman: It is your fault, you deserve this, and you asked for this, he is allowed to do it because of what you chose to wear. This, in my book, is never okay.

Where do we draw the line? We live in a country where a girl having to cover from head to toe in a burqa is considered over-the-top and oppressive, and a bikini is considered okay. So where is that in-between area where you are dressed in a way that invites disrespect? What is an appropriate “deserving of respect” outfit? It’s just silly. How about, instead of telling women to cover up, you tell men that no matter how a woman is dressed, she is a human being with thoughts and feelings and choices? Why should a woman be faced with the responsibility of picking an outfit that will stop harassment, instead of the harassers being held accountable? Let’s also remember that women get raped in all sorts of outfits, as seen by the “this is what I was wearing” meme. Outfits don’t cause rape, rapists do. When a seven year old girl is raped, nobody dares suggest her clothes may have attracted “disrespect”. Why does this change when a girl becomes a teenager?

Men are not untameable beasts, chained to their animal natures with no control over themselves. If a woman isn’t wearing much, it doesn’t render a man incapable of rational thought. If a man sees a skimpy outfit and decides the woman wearing it is not worth his respect then that says more about him than her. It shows a man who does not think all humans are worthy of respect, and will find excuses to treat someone badly. And he can get away with it because some people will say it was her fault for not covering up.

Yes, there are things women can do to help keep themselves safe. Watch your drinks, don’t get drunk, stay with friends, don’t walk alone, don’t sleep over at a party, etc. While this can be useful information, at the end of the day you can do all this and still get raped. You can do none of this and be raped. Either way, it is not your fault, it is the rapist’s fault. You wouldn’t tell a guy who had been burgled that it was his own fault for not having better locks. You wouldn’t tell a guy who had been mugged that it was his own fault for walking down the street with money in his pocket. In the end, advising someone to be safe is fine, but putting the responsibility of avoiding rape on a woman is not. Let’s remember who are the bad guys here – those who made the decision to disrespect and rape women. Or burgle houses, or mug people. Let’s not victim-blame.

  • The trial by media isn’t fair.

You know what, I agree with this one. Evidence is needed and investigating needs to happen by trained professionals. I’m not ruling out the idea that the boys didn’t commit any crimes, and perhaps for a lot of it were exaggerating their boasts and joking around, but I still don’t think that that possibility warrants victim blaming of the girls who went to the police, or a culture of disbelief and suspicion of them.

I do think this story is one the public needs to know about. It has sparked many amazing discussions, blog posts and the like, and exposed New Zealand’s rape culture. Whether or not the Roast Busters are rapists, it is still good to see New Zealand (for the most part) making it clear to young people that it is not okay to treat women badly. It is not okay to touch a girl when she is (as one of the Roast Buster’s friends described a girl) so wasted she will probably not remember it in the morning. It is not cool to brag online about sleeping with women as if they are not worthy of respect or privacy. Making rape jokes is insensitive and immature. There has been a big out-pouring of support for victims of rape, including a petition for John Key to do more for rape victims. I hope that this will be a lesson for all young people out there in both how they conduct themselves online, and how they treat their fellow human beings.

Why we shouldn’t hate teenage girls


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mean girls 2

Urban Dictionary is a website where regular people give their more colloquial definitions of words, and the definitions voted for by the most people appear at the top. It’s a good place to go when suddenly everyone is saying how Miley is trying to act “ratchet” and you have no idea what they are talking about, but not so good, as I found, when wanting to find out what people think about teenage girls. Urban Dictionary had nothing nice to say, with the following comments getting hundreds of thumbs up:

“The Teenage Girl is possibly the absolute stupidest, most materialistic, and shallow kind of human there is”

“They have nothing resembling independent thought or character”

“The lowest form of human being on the planet. These are often shallow, pathetic creatures, attempting to be unique and special”

“These are usually stupid, unoriginal, shallow, and self-centered creatures. Some teenage girls break the mold and are extremely smart, unique, and rather clever, but these are rare.”

“A shallow, annoying, selfish, pathetic being whose intelligence is nearly sub-human. These creatures typically dress like total sluts”.

To be fair, the entries for “teenage boy” aren’t all that nice either, but much kinder on boys than the page on teen girls. The second highest voted answer, for example, is satire about how teenage boys are “causing all of society’s problems” which implies they aren’t actually that bad. The other answers revolve around teenage boys being immature, horny, perverts. There is nothing like the level of loathing that seems to exist for teenage girls out there. While people on UD joke that teenage boys only like sex, video games, and doing stupid shit… they actually seem to hate teenage girls. Read those comments above again. It’s pure misogyny.

I looked this up because a class today at E.I.T left me quietly fuming.

First, a classmate was told by a professor that he didn’t think she would suit teaching in a girls’ school because she is “too pragmatic.” Let’s break that down. Some synonyms of the word “pragmatic”: rational, logical, realistic, sensible, and reasonable. So, wait, she is too logical to teach girls? In order to suit teaching at a girls’ school, should one then be irrational, illogical, unrealistic, senseless and unreasonable? Doesn’t sound like great skills for a teacher. Something tells me the professor was instead implying that teenage girls are illogical, and so a logical teacher wouldn’t want to teach them. That couldn’t possibly be right, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he means “dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.” I still don’t get the problem here. Won’t teenage girls benefit from a hands-on approach to teaching?

Another classmate jumped in and said she was also told she would suit teaching boys better. A third smirked and mused, “I wonder who he thinks would suit a girls’ school?” which is where I said, “Me. I’d love to teach in a girls’ school.”

Why? Because people are still having these conversations! People are writing off teenage girls and wanting nothing to do with educating them when they could have the far superior males.

Not only this, but I attended an all girls’ school and believe I received a great education there.

In social studies, I learnt about fundamentalist religions, poverty cycles, prison systems, and more. This instilled in me a sense of social justice, and a high regard for seeking the truth and solving problems. In English, along with reading wonderful texts about acceptance and equality in different cultures (such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Kiss the Dust), I also studied advertising and how the media can manipulate you into buying their product. What I learnt in that unit amazed me, and developed my critical thinking skills. In Drama I experienced stepping into someone else’s shoes and bringing their world to life. I believe I became a more empathetic, tolerant person at that school. They encouraged critical thinking, creativity, and speaking my mind.

Of course, I am not saying that none of this can happen at a boys’ or co-ed school, but that all girls’ schools can be wonderful places for learning to occur too, and I believe teachers there are invaluable.

The second round of hate on female students came when a guest speaker was talking about bullying. A classmate brought up the subtle bullying that can happen amongst girls that can have a lasting effect. Examples given ranged from exclusion to petty things like teasing girls for their clothes or hair choices. Another classmate mentioned that their four year old daughter came home from kindergarten having been teased about her legs.

All of this definitely happens, and it’s sad and should be addressed, no doubt about it.

What left me fuming were the casual comments that followed by my classmates. These boiled down to “girls suck” and “girls are so mean” and “girls are so petty. Guys just have a punch up then move on, girls are more insidious.” I think this is over-simplifying things for one, and making light of male on male bullying.

Saying boys’ fights are somehow better than girls because they “have a punch up then get over it” is not only making violence seem like a better alternative than speaking your mind, but also downplaying the negative effects on boys who are bullied. We have a very high youth suicide rate in New Zealand, and young boys are more likely to commit suicide than girls. In America, there have been instances of teenage boys who were bullied bringing guns to school. Boys can be just as negatively affected by being bullied as girls, and yes, they can be bullied simply for being smaller than the bully or odd in some way (or for no discernable reason at all!) So to act like girls are more horrible as a gender because they laugh at a girl’s outfit, rather than punching her in the face for no reason, is just crazy to me. Bullying is bad no matter the gender and no matter how the attack plays out.

We have to remember that these behaviours don’t exist in a vacuum. Teenagers are the products of the society they grow up in and the ways in which they are socialised. A teenage boy may appear to “get over it” more quickly or not hold a grudge, because he has been taught his whole life that it isn’t manly to be upset. A girl may hold a grudge or get upset over something “small” like a comment on her outfit because she has been raised in a society that tells her being pretty is one of the most important things about you, and you have to look a certain way to fit in.

Girls may seem pettier in the way they bully each other about appearances for the same reason. We are raised in a culture that bombards us with images of perfect women. We grow up watching television shows in which women are under-represented, and those that are seen are either perfect looking or playing a character treated badly for their looks. There are tons of shows with fat or ugly male actors, often dating hot women, but rarely the other way around. Even great comedic actresses like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson create comedy through fat jokes. It is rare to see fat or less than attractive looking people in the media treated simply as another human being without their looks being mentioned. When it is, I recommend the show to everyone (Orange is the New Black!). Girls read magazines filled with thin, white, beautiful women and tips on how to be beautiful like them. We are raised to compete with each other for male attention, while boys are more likely to compete in other ways – sporting, achievements, and income.

Negative stereotypes about women are everywhere. Girls are crazy! Girls are irrational and over-emotional! Girls talk too much and shop too much! Girls love drama! Girls are illogical! Girls see these stereotypes played out in the media, then any time a girl does something to fit these stereotypes, they use her behaviour to justify the existence of the stereotype. Gross.

All of this can potentially lead teenage girls to want to either distance themselves from other women, or to passively accept the stereotypes as true and own it.

Those who distance themselves from other women are unintentionally being sexist against their own gender. That’s really sad! Girls who say things like, “I prefer hanging with guys because it is less drama”. Or “I’m not like other girls” is a common sight amongst teens on the net. Boys are just great and women are awful, amirite? Lucky I’m a special snowflake who is one of the guys and not one of them! See Lois Griffin in Family Guy, when she rolls her eyes and says, “Ugh, this is why I don’t befriend other women.”

Probably more harmful behaviour is when teenage girls just accept that being “crazy” or “bitchy” is the norm for women, and so it’s totally acceptable for them to be mean to others. They may post things online like: “Yeah I’m a bitch, get over it!” or share the Marilyn Monroe Quote: “if you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best”, as if that justifies bad behaviour. They might also try and impress boys or break stereotypes by acting “random” or “weird”. I know when I was thirteen some of my friends and I went through a stage of wearing jester hats and/or pyjamas out in public. We thought it was silly, and fun, and wanted people to know we didn’t care what they thought, when really I think we liked the idea of being thought of as odd. This behaviour is looked on with scorn by haters of teenage girls. Why can’t teenage girls just be our definition of normal and act in a perfectly regular way at all times and draw no attention to themselves ever and be quiet and unseen? /sarcasm.

Of course, some teen girls are lucky enough not to be affected by the media’s obsession with looks and the negative stereotypes about women. They don’t feel any need for much validation from others, care more about their own achievements than what they look like, and don’t feel the need to scrutinise other women’s actions and appearances. Contrary to what society will have you believe, this is more common than you think.

My experience in an all girls’ school wasn’t sitting around all day bitching about other women, pretending to be friends with people then talking shit about them as soon as they walked away, and talking about clothes, shoes, and boys. Yes, this happened some of the time, just like men gossip some of the time (I work in a police station bar and overhear many a chat!) But for the most part, my friend circle was a smart bunch who loved to joke around. We had a lot of laughs together, serious chats together, and played games at lunch time like four square. We organised treasure hunts and Secret Santas and adventures. We talked about our school subjects. We joined groups like the student council, the choir, or sports teams. We were supportive of each other in hard times, and most of us are still friends (or at least friendly) to this day. Were there ever any problems? Of course, but that’s life. Not everybody stays happy and content in one friend group forever.

Many of my high school friends have grown up into great, friendly, fun, people who have graduated university and / or are doing cool things with their lives. This wouldn’t be possible if all our teachers had simply written us off as silly, stupid, bitches.

Women need great role models to teach them that they are worth more than their looks, that they can achieve anything they want if they work hard for it, and that they shouldn’t listen to the negative stereotypes or play into them. They need people teaching them how to treat each other with respect and kindness and to stick together in a world that is, frankly, hostile towards them. They need someone to teach them that their personal lives and choices are their own damn business and nobody else’s and to keep any judgemental thoughts in their heads. They need someone to encourage them and inspire them, rather than look down on them.

Teaching girls is something I can’t wait to do because I care about women and their futures, and so it makes me sad when good teachers turn their nose up at all girls’ schools or teenage girls in general. Overall I had a great experience at an all girls’ school, and hope myself and others like me can give a similar experience to teenage girls today.


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