Activist, writer, sex-positive feminist, single mother, sandgroper, grumpy old woman.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wake up call

I'm not quite sure whether this is trumpet blowing or a cry for help, but I had to say *something* after Shane Jiraiya Cummings added me to a list of 'Women in (Aussie) Horror' on his blog, last night.  Me. A complete nobody. On a list that included some of the most amazing female writing talent this country has ever produced, including the most fabulous of ALL fabulous Australian authors, Kim Wilkins.

As someone who is utterly terrified of seeing her name in print (handy phobia for a wannabe author, I know), my first reaction was abject horror. The second was overwhelming embarrassment - what if people do as Shane suggests and try to Google me? They ain't gonna find anything! And I will be exposed for the talentless fraud that I am!

My boyfriend turned up about five minutes later and, adrenaline still coursing through my body, I launched into the ultimate brag session slash pity party...."Omigod, I'm so freakin' excited! I got mentioned in a list alongside my all-time favourite author! What the fuck was he thinking? Now I look like a pathetic wannabe! How am I ever gonna live this down? Omigod, I'm soooo freakin' excited!" (If this is what it feels like to have a novel published, I'm not entirely sure I ever want to go there).

My long-suffering boyfriend listened patiently while I rambled, occasionally attempting to interrupt with words of encouragement, but after fifteen minutes of me bleating on about being an unpublished nobody, he eventually lost patience and snapped "Well... get off your fuckin' arse and publish something then, you twit!"

And there you have it. In a nutshell. If I'm not an established author, I only have myself to blame.

Thank you, Shane (and my tactless but honest boyfriend!) for having faith in me. I shall get my lazy arse into gear, forthwith. x

My son, the emu

My 13 year old son is an emo. The average emo is an awkward teenager with black shirt, skin-tight black jeans, vacant stare and a death wish. My friends and I refer to them as ‘emus’. An emu is a black, awkward-looking bird with gangly legs, that stares blankly into your headlights before launching itself headfirst into your roo-bar.

Now don't get me wrong. My boy doesn't cop any flak from me about being an emu. One day I heard myself saying to him "Oh my Gawd...what are you wearing?" and the voice was my mother's and a horrifying image of a teenage me in oversized Mickey Mouse shirt, ripped stonewash jeans and red Converse Allstars; complete with frizzy hair, huge plastic hoop earrings and fingerless lace gloves; flashed before my eyes. I never criticised his clothes again.

I suppose I should admire him for finding one clique and sticking with it. I flitted from one to the next when I was a teenager, usually according to which bloke I was interested in at the time. When I was in highschool, the choices were pretty limited - you were either a skeg (surfer), a skatehead (sk8er) or a bogan. I tried the skeg thing at one point, but as I'm not blonde, can't surf and hate getting beach sand in my undies, that didn't last long. And if my surfing was bad, my skateboarding was even worse, so I had to give the skateheads a miss as well.

Which is how I became a bogan. The only prerequisites for boganhood were black clothes, a decent collection of Aussie Rock cassettes and an exceedingly high tolerance for alcohol. (As a girl, I managed to sidestep the mullet requirement). We spent most of our days sitting in the back of utes, drinking copious amounts of warm beer and listening to Acca Dacca. My boyfriend, the leader of our illustrious gang, gave me gifts of stolen cheap-shit jewellery and beat up anyone who looked at him sideways. My foray into boganism ended when I started copping the same treatment.

When I left school, I decided to be a Goth. I shared their fascination with ancient architecture, horror stories and the supernatural, and thought the eye makeup, flowing dresses and boots they wore were dead sexy. However, I didn't know any other Goths, I wasn't really into the music and I have a mortal fear of sharp things, so I ended up just being an angry chick who wrote depressing poetry and dressed like Elvira.

Eventually it became apparent to me that I just didn't fit well into any box. If these groups were rebelling against conformity by conforming to their group norms, then I was just going to have to rebel against their non-conforming conformity. (Try saying that after your fifth beer). I started hanging out with other social misfits and wore whatever I damn well pleased.

Twenty years later, I’m still hanging out with misfits and my wardrobe consists of one pair of trusty jeans, a handful of singlets and an op shop jacket. My passions, tastes and hobbies are diverse enough to grant me ‘honourary membership’ to a number of different groups, but too diverse to allow me to truly belong to any of them. And that’s just the way I like it.

I’m sure my emu son will one day work out who he is and find his place in society. For now, I'm just happy I don't have to be seen in public with my child wearing a fringed jacket, big hair, flouro leg-warmers and a bandanna tied around his thigh …like my poor mother did.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Keep the Greenough murderer behind bars!

One night in 1993, William Mitchell once again tried to sleaze onto (his friend) Karen MacKenzie and once again, she knocked him back. So, later that night, he drove out to her home in Greenough Hamlet and hacked her and her three children to death with an axe. He also raped Karen, both before and after he killed her, and sexually assaulted her 7-year-old daughter Amara. We don't know too much about Amara's assault, or exact details of the deaths of the three children (aged 16, 7 and 5), because the evidence was deemed 'too horrific' to be released to the public and, to this day, remains withheld.

After dropping some of the 'minor' charges, as they do, Mitchell was charged with four counts of rape and four counts of murder. In Western Australia, the maximum penalty for raping an adult is 14 years. The maximum penalty for raping a child is (from memory) 20 years. The maximum penalty for murder is also 20 years. Police, judges and the general community consider this crime amongst 'the worst' in Western Australian history. To my mind, one of 'the worst' crimes in history should attract maximum penalties, which in this case should mean a grand total of 148 years behind bars.

William Mitchell got 20 YEARS. That's 5 years in prison for each lost life, and when you take into account the rapes of Karen and Amara, their lives are worth even less.

Mitchell becomes eligible for parole in 2013. He was recently downgraded as a maximum-security prisoner and moved to a medium-security regional prison - a move that generally indicates the person is nearing release. He will only be in his early 40s on release, so he still has plenty of time to start a new life and live happily ever after. Or plenty of time to kill again, as the case may be. Neither outcome is acceptable, as far as I'm concerned.

I am not a supporter of the death penalty under ANY circumstances and, in many cases, I support rehabilitation over long-term imprisonment...but NOT in this case. He drove 25kms to get to her house, stayed for a couple of hours raping and murdering them, washed the murder weapon at the house, then dumped it on the way home, miles from the murder scene. That sounds pretty damn premeditated to me! He then had five weeks to feel guilty and give himself up, but instead filled that time trying to set *others* up for the crime. This piece of excrement should remain behind bars FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE.

I didn't know Karen, but we had a number of mutual friends. During the five weeks between the murders and when Mitchell was captured, he stayed at one of my mates' houses for a week, got drunk with another of my mates and calmly discussed the killings (not admitting any part in them, of course!), then stayed for a few days (and committed a bizarre and scary act) in the town where I live. For those five weeks, the entire Midwest was living in fear - people who normally don't even lock their doors at night were too scared to walk home from the pub, sleep in the house alone, or let their kids walk themselves to school. It shattered our 'innocence' as a country community and made us fearful of each other. To this day, local people still use the Greenough murders as an example of why we shouldn't be complacent and automatically trust our neighbours... and for that, I will never forgive him. A woman and her children were slaughtered and our way of life was killed in the process. Let the f*cking bastard rot, I say.