A Response to "The Glass is Half-full 22.06.18" / by Brooke Tunbridge

via Instagram @stephdavis.au

via Instagram @stephdavis.au

"We do not need to centre men in every conversation we have. Women and girls are valid entities, independent from men. We need to get to a point where we can talk about women’s issues and get the same level of respect we get when we talk about men’s issues."

This is a quote from the article that was referenced in 'The Glass is Half-Full' piece posted on Newcastle Mirage a couple of weeks ago.

I was surprised after reading the referenced article as the piece it was referenced in does exactly what the author is criticising- asks about men.

I've been considering writing this since seeing the controversy around the article spreading. I didn't want to because there is already an abundance of resources for people to educate themselves on this topic. There's already a massive amount of women who have shared their trauma with the #MeToo movement and there are men out there who are amplifying our voices, taking a look at their own behaviour and not making the conversation about them. I'm writing this out of the respect I have for the community surrounding Newcastle Mirage.

I've been contributing to the zine and website for a couple of years and have met and worked with some truly wonderful people. I don't believe that an article that was not given the chance to be reviewed by anyone, should be allowed to break apart this community.

The article doesn't represent the views of all the contributors, which many of us have expressed privately.

I was halfway through Hannah Gadsby's Nanette when I jumped from my bed to my computer.

Hannah's words sparked a fire.

"Learn to move beyond your defensiveness".

When I speak about women's issues, I should feel safe to do so. In sharing my concerns, I am not trying to bring down men. I am not attacking you. This is not about you, the individual, it is about rape culture as a whole.

If you know that you're a good person, you shouldn't need to waste your breath convincing people. Show me you understand, or at least want to, by your actions. Drop your defence. Be willing to listen. Ask how you can help.

If you want change to happen, as Hannah says, you will need to learn to move beyond your defensiveness. #Notallmen shifts the blame, dissolves accountability and solves absolutely nothing. It doesn't develop the discussion, it simply derails the conversation and dismisses women's lived experiences.

Discussing misogyny shouldn't make you feel uncomfortable if you truly believe it is #Notallmen.

I would love to plead ignorance, to turn away from the discussion of rape culture because it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I don't have that luxury. I'm not adding my #MeToo story to the conversation because I shouldn't have to. I will say this, I have far more than just one story and these truths do not only exist in the past.

Male suicide rates and toxic masculinity are massive issues, although they should not be compared side by side with rape culture.

I admit, I need to get better at calling out people's inappropriate behaviour, and I have acknowledged that. Instead of awkwardly laughing or going silent when an older male customer is making me feel uncomfortable as I make their coffee, I need a loud voice. I need to question their behaviour or comments and put the spotlight on them, ask something like "How would you feel if someone said that to your daughter/granddaughter/sister/mother?". However, in these uncomfortable experiences, I have not been alone. There's often a counter full of people, choosing to ignore what they're hearing, seeing that I am uncomfortable but never doing anything about it. It doesn't matter that it's #Notallmen in these moments.

It's these moments that made me not want to write this, because I'm exhausted. I'm constantly dodging sexist and inappropriate comments, being on high alert, avoiding paths and streets due to past incidents, hearing victim blaming comments. I'm tired of defending myself and other women. Once you understand that moments like these contribute to rape culture, I'm hoping it will allow you to listen, rather than jump into being defensive.

- Brooke Tunbridge

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

This quote, by the activist & revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr, is something that has haunted me for days after reading this particular ‘Glass is Half Full’ article and it’s most recent predecessor on Newcastle Mirage.

These articles grapple with some very serious and triggering subjects, such as sexual abuse, rape culture, the #MeToo movement and many more issues of concern for people in the Newcastle community, within our nation and around the world.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to speak up and talk about REAL issues and problems. What was meant be an article promoting a message of support and encourage an empowering conversation in light of tragic events, was riddled with unfortunate misunderstandings, poor judgment, a lack of perspective and objectivity. It missed the mark and hurt too many in the process.

I personally know this was never the author's intention and after experiencing a lot of hateful comments, I bet he feels like he has been backed into a scary corner surrounded by pitchforks. Being defensive seemed to be the answer to combat this and sadly it reflects the image of someone we know this man isn’t.

It isn’t what Mirage is either. We all need to learn that being defensive isn’t the solvent to our problems, that sometimes taking note and listening can be our saving grace.

This is not to excuse the author or to say that many of these comments didn’t point out very important errors in the article, as these subjects were handled with a lack of thought. Many of these comments were on the mark, but others bordered on the line of bullying and hate, offering nothing to what should’ve been a constructive space where people feel empowered to learn, listen and grow - so, as to avoid making the same mistakes.

It is a shame that these articles were published, as it does not reflect many of the views Newcastle Mirage, as a publication and as a community of people, stand for. Newcastle Mirage has, and always will be, a place where EVERYBODY is included, should feel safe and a place that promotes the vibrant culture, community and spirit of Newcastle.

As someone who has been a part of Newcastle Mirage for the past 6 months, I have been a part of this empowering narrative. I’ve been able to share amazing stories about local legends and promote spaces that make people feel better about themselves. It’d break my heart to see this narrative change and for people to see Newcastle Mirage as a publication that promotes anything but inclusivity, empowerment and a whole lotta love.

We all have a responsibility to be held accountable, to use our voice and lead a generation that sees equality and love flourish, instead of vitriol, misogyny and ignorance. It isn’t easy, it’s really f****ing difficult! But, my door is open to those who ever need to talk and those who want to tell their story. My heart is forever indebted to promoting this sort of narrative and it’s about bloody time we got rid of the extra BS.

I’m sorry that these articles didn’t reflect the narrative Newcastle Mirage stands for and I hope that those who feel compelled to tell their story come forward (my door, i.e. inbox, is always open) as it’d be my pleasure to share your story and prove that this space is one that is safe, inclusive and about informing our community.

My details are below - Please, feel free to reach out anytime!

  • Hannah-Louise Stretton

Instagram: @hannahstretton       Facebook: @hannahstrettonx

Email: hannahstretton1997@gmail.com