Video troubles.

Hello all! Just a quick post this week to apologise for not being able to upload the post I was meaning to. As part of the Movember campaign Jenny took some video of me shaving off my beloved beard, and I’ve edited it and got it all set to upload, but I can’t seem to get it off my phone and onto my laptop to actually put it up here. Will continue trying and hopefully have it up before too long.

Big thank you to Laura Denham, William Lee and Alice Burton for donating this week. Everyone else, if you’re considering donating, consider this your regularly scheduled poke.


The Power of the Mo.

I’m proud to identify as a feminist. Women have got the short end of the stick in most respects throughout history and still do today. They still earn less for the same work, do a bigger share of unpaid labour, are disproportionately victims of sex crimes, and in some countries are still unequal in the eyes of the law. Now, as a lot of self-identified “men’s rights activists” are all too quick to point out, this is not the fault of all men. But it is the fault of the culture that teaches us that a woman changing her name on marriage is unremarkable, while a man who changes his is servile; and that a little boy who bullies his female peers does it because he likes them; and that makes us see a crowd with a 50/50 gender split as “female dominated”, and it takes a ratio of five men to one woman for the average person to perceive it as even. (There have been studies.)

The men’s rights activists are right that men have it tough in some areas, but they’re wrong if they try to lay the blame for that on feminism or gender equality. Men are disproportionally cut out of their children’s lives in divorce cases, not because feminists have convinced judges that teh evil menz cannot be trusted, but because of the patriarchal view that women are more natural nurturers and better with children. Men who are raped are far less likely to be taken seriously than women, who have a hard time of it as it is, not because of some feminist idea that men are always aggressors but because of the patriarchal idea that a man wouldn’t refuse sex and that it’s “unmanly” to be a victim. Men are disproportionately victims of violence in general, but not because women are more violent, rather because outside of domestic cases (where the target pool is kind of small) most violence is between men. In turn, this is in no small part because we are taught to feel we have no other outlet. We can’t talk about our issues as freely as women can without being mocked and dismissed. This is also a reason why men are disproportionately victims of suicide. (The expression victims of suicide might seem wrongheaded, but I stand by it.)

And that brings me to where I’m going with this post. Mental health is a huge issue. According to beyondblue, one in eight men will have depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. I’ve been living with low-level anxiety for years, which I generally brushed off as just normal stress — I’m doing Year 12, I’m in a new environment at uni, I’m moving out of home, I’m working two jobs and studying, I’m living in a strange new country — but in the last year I’ve recognised that it isn’t just something I have to grit my teeth and bear. I’ve had anxiety attacks, and while they might be triggered by thinking about my career or our mortgage or whatever, they aren’t rational, and so they can’t be fixed by rational thinking. My most visible symptom was nail-biting, and it had gotten very bad. Interesting thing though, what finally stopped it wasn’t that bad-tasting stuff you can put on your nails, nor was it getting anti-anxiety medication (that came later, and I don’t need it most days) — it was getting a manicure and having my nails painted (a very unmanly) purple.

So this year, I’m going to do what I’ve been meaning to do for a while and never got round to — yet another symptom of both anxiety and depression being procrastination and avoidance, of course — and sign up for the Movember charity drive. This means that for the month of November I’ll be growing out a moustache and raising money for men’s mental health. Movember supports men’s health in other areas too, like prostate cancer, which is great.

As an already beardly-faced fella, of course, this will mean shaving my face for the start of the month. I’ve had the goatee for so long my wife has literally never seen me without it, except in old photographs, so that should be interesting. I just hope people don’t get too freaked out when I end up looking like my Dad, because to be honest, I know that that’s what’s going to happen.

I’ve pledged $100 just to get the ball rolling towards my target of raising $1000. You can follow my progress at my “Mo Space” page here, and I’ll be adding a link on the sidebar and on my other online presences as well. If you can and you’d like to, please click through and donate. It’s a very worthy cause.

Red tape is fun.

I mentioned in my last post that I was expecting to get some contract work for a company back home that I could do from home while we’re living overseas. And not long after that post — only a day or two after we landed back in Nanjing, in fact — I was offered a contract.

Of course, it’s never as simple as that. Paperwork always takes longer when you’re overseas, even in this electronic age. I can fill in forms and sign them on my iPad, and email files the same day. But these processes only move as slow as their slowest component, and due to the nature of the work — I’d be a contractor, not an employee — I had to arrange an Australian Business Number for myself and also some insurance. Not a big deal, but being overseas meant that the ABN process took a few weeks and required multiple phone calls and my parents using the powers-of-attorney I’d given them to help with the whole overseas-landlord thing. And then three companies refused to quote on the insurance (despite that there was no actual increased risk from my being overseas) and a fourth quoted me an amount so high it would have made the work unprofitable.

And then, about six weeks after they made the original offer, the company realised that, due to contractual obligations to their own clients, they wouldn’t be allowed to send me work overseas.

I’m not bitter. That’s not even sarcastic; they were very apologetic about the whole mess, and even expressed a hope that I’d be able to work for them when I move back home, which I fully intend to follow up whenever that ends up being. (At the moment, the missus’ contract here is until the end of next year, but she’s looking into our options for staying overseas, due in no small part to the almighty clusterfuck that is the present Australian government. The most recent thing she’s gone squeeful over is the possibility of a teaching position with Apple — in Edinburgh.)

I am feeling rather down about the whole matter, though. I’m still working on the novel and the book based on my MA thesis, but I’m sorely missing more conventional employment.