Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘family

Not on vacation

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I am not on vacation.  I’m just very busy maintaining my other site, Love versus Goliath, and writing my memoir of the same name.  Everything other than family and work is on the back burner until I complete my manuscript.

If you happen to land here, please feel free to pay Love versus Goliath a visit, you will be most welcome!

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

February 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Family

Tagged with , ,

Child “beauty pageants” in Australia?

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I’ve been watching the media coverage of Australia’s first US style beauty pageant for children.  I don’t like the idea.

Australia has always had beautiful baby competitions, but they were always babies or toddlers competing as, well, BABIES or TODDLERS.  Not primped and preened to within an inch of their adult lives, looking highly sexualised.  As a mother, I just cannot condone these competitions.

I read an article some time ago, when the competition here was first announced, about parents from both sides of the argument actually threatening members of the “other side” of the debate.  What are we becoming? 

Children should be allowed to be children.  No, I don’t see it as a “bit of fun” for the whole family at all.  I see it as parents trying to live their dreams through their children, at the expense of their children’s innocence and childhood.  The children would surely be better served by their parents listening to their reading or reading to them, than traipsing around being flaunted as mini-adults. 

Am I being “old-fashioned”? No, I don’t think so.  I think I’m being practical and responsible.  You may have a different view.  Please share!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

July 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

Posted in News

Tagged with , , , , ,

Your genitals are beautiful

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It saddens me, a woman of shall we say mature years who has given birth twice, to read that our younger women feel their bodies are so “wrong”.  While the survey range was 18 to 80, the mean age was 34.

We have the anorexia/bulimia issues and that is bad enough.  A lot of the blame for anorexia and bulimia is attributed to the unrealistic images of the “desirable” body type depicted in the media.  Impossibly size 0 bodies.  Perfect faces sculpted by surgeons in Hollywood or Argentina (the home of the beauty queen industry).  Botox parties – and I understand men are getting on that bandwagon too.

Now the problem is our genitials, it seems.  I recall a joke: “all you have to do to please a man is turn up naked with a beer”.  Pretty lame, I agree, but I do (or did) think it is closer to the truth than whether men peer at the structure of a vulval region and turn it down because it doesn’t look like the one in the latest adult movie.  I’ll admit, when it comes to the genders, I do think the males got the more visually attractive body parts.  However, like a lock and key, one doesn’t work without the other.

Let’s look at the findings:

Half of the group, which had a mean age of 34, worried that their partner would find the look or odour of their genitals ”repulsive”, while one in four feared the size or appearance of parts of their vulval region were unattractive or inadequate.

Here is the really worrying bit:

The findings come after The Sunday Age last month revealed the number of Medicare claims for labioplasty surgery had tripled in less than a decade.

Some women as young as 18 are seeking psychiatric treatment after the operation failed to make them feel better about their bodies. ”This research highlights the need for mental health practitioners to assess genital image and body image perceptions with girls and women who visit them with relationship and sexual problems,” Ms D’Arcy-Tehan said.

Let’s read further, however, and we find that perhaps men ARE making these comparisons:

”In my private practice I had a 16-year-old girl who came in and said her 18-year-old boyfriend told her her vagina didn’t look like the images he saw on the internet.

”That’s often where the beginnings of anxiety start.

”Young women are very confused.”

Some months ago there was much coverage in the press about the negative effects pornography had on the relationships between men and women in relationships, the thrust of the discussion being that the unrealistic images presented changed men’s perceptions and expectations.  I remember thinking at the time surely this could not be the case for the majority of men.  Surely they are more grounded in reality than that.  I also remember my husband’s complete and utter shock when he stumbled across some of what is available on the internet.  He had never in his life seen such things until coming to Australia and he was absolutely astounded.  He had never used a computer before coming here, if the Western reader is wondering how one escapes such things:  I assure you, it is still possible!

Given my husband’s reaction and the article under consideration today, I’m seriously rethinking my attitudes to pornography and the impact it has for the wider community.  I’ve always been pretty ambivilent: each to their own.  Yet I know I am firm supporter of the ratings recently introduced by Senator Kate Lundy for violent computer games.   I’m not about to start crusading as such, but I will certainly be watching the dialogue a little more closely.   

Just because we can have something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should, or perhaps we shouldn’t have it in the quantities we can or to the extremes it is available.  We don’t drink and drive because of the danger.  Not everything available to us is good for us.

I encourage all young women out there to accept their bodies as the beautiful creations of nature that they are.  Don’t be fooled by an inexperienced young boyfriend into thinking you are not normal.  Remind him in no uncertain terms that the movies are NOT normal, they are not reality.  If he has a problem with that, it is he who does not belong in your life, not your genitals.  Keep them just the way they are, for a man who truly loves YOU will not be comparing your body to internet images.

Have you ever experienced such a comment as the poor young qirl quoted above?  What did you do about it?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 12, 2010 at 11:34 am

Two sides? At 12?

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I don’t think so.  Here we go yet again with child abuse.  It is reported that the man involved has admitted having sex with the 12 year-old victim.  The defence barrister says not to jump to conclusions because there are two sides to every story.

I’m sorry, mate, there is no second side to this story at all.   I know the basic legal principle – innocent until proven guilty and I agree with that totally.  Here we do not need proof: the offence has been admitted already.

I know that generations ago girls were married off very young.  In some societies around the world that is still the case, sadly.

Bribing a child with a promise of a horse just adds to the crime.  Taking payment from two (presumably) “mates” for sex with the girl is an even greater crime.  Will those two also be charged?  They certainly should be.  It reminds me of the recent Tasmanian case where an intellectually disabled child had been pimped out – the pimp was charged, but I never heard anything about the customers being charged.

When there is a child involved, ALL should be charged.

Sex is a wonderful thing.  It is not for forcing on innocent children and an adult male should have enough sense to know that.  If not, then he must still pay for his crime, for if he can’t recognise the wrong he is an ever greater danger to the community that a man who does have the sense.  Both are equally reprehensible.

The child is reported to have had an unhappy home life.  How much did this contribute to her vulnerability?  Should the parents be held to account as well?

The report doesn’t say how this came to the notice of the police.  If the young girl came forward on her own, I applaud her bravery.  I hope she manages to grow up without too many psychological scars from this time in her life.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Be careful where you give birth!

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This article is not a concern for me or my family personally.  We are not going to have any more children and all the children we do have, have citizenship of one country or another.  Interestingly, my daughter is entitled to New Zealand citizenship by descent, but not my son – New Zealand’s laws changed between their births!

I wasn’t quite sure whether to put this entry here or on my other site – it really is a bit of both.  While my personal site concentrates on my own personal visa battle, I have commented several times that we need to change the way we handle the question of immigration, partner visas in particular because that is currently the area I know most about, although I know a reasonable amount about protection visas as well!

The article linked to above caught my eye because in the cases discussed we are not talking specifically about people marrying across borders (although indirectly we are) or refugees: we are talking about quite simply happy couples having much loved children.  Children, who because of different laws in different countries around the world, end up stateless.

…Mark Manly, head of the statelessness unit at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that gaps between national citizenship laws have put high-flying professionals around the globe in the same boat as migrants and refugees when it comes to getting passports for their kids.

“Far more people live outside their country of nationality than before, and there are more children born to parents of different countries,” he said. “We have a lot of situations where the children are not acquiring any nationality at all.”

One child in the article has a Chinese mother, Canadian father, was born in Belgium and after considerable stress for the parents, has now been granted Irish citizenship based on his grandfather’s nationality.  The father is quoted in the article, “When people think of refugees and stateless people they don’t think of Western, educated professionals with an office job.”

There is an international covenant that covers this sort of problem, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, however it only has 37 signatory countries.  We have a long way to go.

This article supports what I have said before: the world is now a much more mobile place.  The various countries need to deal with this appropriately.

The article doesn’t address Australia specifically, but a quick look at the DIAC web site shows that clearly it could be a problem for foreigners residing here too, if they happen to come from a country where it is difficult or impossible to obtain citizenship by descent for their children.

Australian citizen by birth

Whether you are an Australian citizen by birth depends on the date of your birth.

Most children born in Australia before 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth unless one parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges or was a consular officer of another country.

Children born after that date are only Australian citizens if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth.

Children born in Australia to parents who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, automatically acquire Australian citizenship on their 10th birthday if they have lived most of their life in Australia.

Australia is having an each way bet – let’s hope if you give birth to a stateless child in Australia, you don’t want to travel for the first 10 years of that child’s life!  I need to cross-check the requirements of the Hague Convention, as I am sure it mentions statelessness too.  So many conventions, so little time!

What about if you go overseas and have a child?  Well, the waters get a bit mukier:

Child born overseas to an Australian citizen

Commonly, if you were born overseas after 26 January 1949 to an Australian citizen parent, you may be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by descent.

If your parent became an Australian citizen by descent, he or she must have been present in Australia for periods totalling two years at some time in their life.

If you were born outside Australia or New Guinea before 26 January 1949 you may also be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if at least one of your parents became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949.

Good grief – do they literally mean ON 26 January 1949 and no other date?  Amazing.  What does “may be eligible” actually mean?

So it seems that while Australians are not specifically mentioned in The Age article, yes, there could be difficulties. 

I dare not venture into the topic of Australian Citizenship by adoption, I have a feeling that would be way too complicated for today!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 28, 2010 at 8:47 am

Another dead heat? Voting in Australia…..

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Chamber, Parliament

Elections!  Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!  This time it is Victorian State Parliament.  We just had a hung Federal election and it looks like we could get a hung Victorian one as well if some of the commentators are to be believed.  While I rarely agree with Andrew Bolt about anything much at all, I have to say he is rather on point with his assessment that this looks like another “dead heat” in the making.

Farrah Tomazin of The Age is saying rather much the same thing.

The headline banner of the HeraldSun says “On a Knife Edge”.

I have a sense of deja vu.  Impending doom of another two week wait for independants to clutch their moment of power while staring at the TV cameras like deer caught in the headlights.  Maybe not quite, but there is no situation like a hung election result to give an amazing amount of attention to a few – sometimes just one.  There was once this senator from Tasmania, I believe………

We Victorians will all dutifully trudge to the polls tomorrow at our local primary school, the church hall, the this or that building to have our names marked off the role and put our numbers in the little boxes.  Those of us who forget will be fined if we don’t have good reason for foresaking our democratic right to vote.  To Americans the concept of compulsory voting is indeed strange.  They think it is undemocratic.  But then I have had Americans swear they live in a republic, definitely not a democracy.  I’m not sure what they teach in American schools about “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  At least we have the sense to hold elections on a Saturday.  Can you imagine voting on a Tuesday, a work day?

I like the fact Australia makes it a family thing.  Children pop along with their parents and grow up with the idea voting is the normal thing to do.  The odd sausage sizzle adds to the flavour of the day.  We could do without all the “how-to-vote” cards but I guess it just goes with the territory.  How many really follow those things anyway?

In the Federal election we had a record number of “informal” votes – in fact, if I recall correctly, we had a record number of actual blank votes.  Perhaps I should explain a little.  You see, having been a scrutineer myself in another life, I can personally attest to the interesting things one finds on ballot papers.  Interesting anatomical drawings are not uncommon.  Swearing is also popular.  Blank is actually quite unusual.

People in Australia have been making quite a political football out of asylum seekers of late, especially any that happen to cross the seas in a boat.  To those people who want to see us treat these people to the conditions of places such as Christmas Island and then send them home, I suggest as you exercise your vote on Saturday, you take a moment to reflect on how lucky you are to be able to stroll down to the polling station, kids in tow, grab a snag from the fund raising sausage sizzle and wander home in peace.  With your hands still attached to your wrists.  No bullet through your head.  No risk of your wife or daughter being raped because you had the audacity to vote.

Treat your right to vote with the respect it deserves and while you are doing it, have a thought for those who flee from regimes where it is perilous to attempt to achieve the freedoms we take for granted.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Laws or no laws, the numbers are bad

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Children.  Vulnerable, dependant, lovable, cute: they can also be little horrors as any parent knows.  Adults of this world are responsible for ensuring the safety and upbringing of our children.

Today’s edition of The Age carried a story that should make all of us stop and think, irrespective of our voting preferences.  I’m happy to let the politicians argue over our laws: what we do or don’t have and is it enough.  What I DO know is that the numbers in the article are not what we should expect from a civilised country.  “… more than 1000 incidents in 2009-10 that were classified category 1 ...” and “More than 21,100 category 2 incidents were reported – events that seriously threaten clients or staff.”

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1996 and to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The latter specifically states:

Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Australia (not just Victoria) has had some really horrendous cases of child abuse lately.  The field of child protection cannot be an easy field to work in: I expect the stress levels would be quite high.  Clearly from the article in The Age, the staff turnover is very high.

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Hilary Clinton made famous a Nigerian proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

On the numbers given, this village, our village, is clearly failing a great many children.  While we can attempt to protect the children most at risk, to me this is a reactive process.  We have to find a proactive approach at look for the sources of the problems.  Why are so many people placing children in these situations?  What can we do to minimise, if not prevent, this happening?

A while ago I wrote about “Moving Forward” and covered several aspects of the state’s “rules” relating to protecting children and how there seemed on the face of it to be considerable contradiction when looking at the larger picture.  My comments there are also applicable to this entry today.

The best most of us can do is NOT turn a blind eye.  We are members of the village.  It takes a village to raise a child.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 24, 2010 at 10:49 am