Thursday, October 28, 2010

Losing your name?

If there is one thing that I don't think I'll ever understand, its why a woman would change her name when she marries.

I used to say it was a Chinese opinion. The majority of Asian women do not adopt their husbands surname, they keep their name, they don't lose it in a bid to look more like a family, or something like that. Personally, I've always thought that even though I plan to keep my name (basically forever), if I ever marry and have kids, I would still be known to other children as Mrs {insert lastname here}. Because that's what kids do. They assume their friends lastname is the name of the parent.

But I can say that it isn't a Chinese thing. Both my grandmothers, my Ah Poh and my Grandma, both kept their maiden names. I find this a little intriguing; not because my Ah Poh did, but because my Australian Grandmother did. She would have been an anomaly among her generation. If my grandmother were alive today, she would probably be in her late eighties, so for someone born at that time...

One thing my mother has regretted for years, is that when she married my dad, she changed her name. Completely changed it, looking at her on paper or talking to her on the phone, you would never guess she's Chinese. She's talking about changing it to something which is a balance of her old and new names. And in a lot of ways I'm pleased. It will be a little strange for her to have a different name than the one I've known my whole life, but at the same time, it's really quite exciting, because if feels like she is reclaiming something she willingly gave away.

One of my friends got married this year, and I was a little aghast that the first question she was asked, the day after her wedding (on facebook) was "Why haven't you changed your name yet???" And I felt like saying, why would you change your name? If it is so important that everyone have the same last name, why shouldn't the husband change his name?

Why must all the sacrifices be on one side?

(And then of course in most households the woman does more housework; even if she works long hours she is still expected to do the lions share of the domestic work, including childcare. Is this what we really want?)


A more extensive post on this topic can be found At BitchPHD (by bitchphd). It also discusses fair division of labour in the home and other such issues.

And Here at Hoyden About Town (by bluemilk).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Passing White

I was watching Deadly Deportment on Landline just now. Basically it was about how young Aboriginal women in the area are being taught additional skills in the hope of making them more employable, and giving them the confidence to dress appropriately and do well in whatever job interview they go for. It was a very good program, and it makes me sad that they feel shame over dressing well, and things like that, fearing that they will never be good enough, that they will fail, and it will be worse than never having done anything in the first place.

Some of the women involved (as happens in any mixed group) can "pass" as white. In some ways this is worse than being discriminated against for being different, as many POC experience. The casual racism in Australia is still very rampant and alarming - as anyone who has been asked "What are you?" (not who are you, what) can attest. But it is worse when you can "pass" because, suddenly people are making these horrible comments, not about you, but about people like you, maybe your friends, all because they assume that you are (white) like them. And it takes courage and strength to say to these people, no it's not okay, you can't make those comments about these people, these are my people and you are being rude.

I can't say that I know what it is like to be Aboriginal in this country, for I am not of that descent. But as a half-Chinese person growing up here, living here, it is apparent to me that the discrimination does not go away. When someone makes a rude comment about Chinese people, and then turns to me and says "Oh, not you Julie", or worse, doesn't realise how offensive they have just been, because I don't "count" or "register" to them as Chinese, well, if I don't say anything, then I am shamed. Because I have just passed, and it feels like I have let the side down.

I want to be strong enough to stand up for my beliefs. Always.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Themes of West Side Story

On Thursday night, I left work to go and see West Side Story with my parents and number of their friends.

West Side Story is an excellent musical, the songs were familiar, everyone sang very well, and overall it was enjoyable (although there was a very weird dream sequence with everyone dancing around in white after the intermission which confused a lot of people, myself included.)

But although it was very good (the actors were superb), I still found it a bit problematic and confronting. It's a love story, Romeo and Juliet (if you like) with the background of open racism, killing, police corruption, and (one case of) rape.

I know it is supposed to reflect the time, rampant racism and chauvinism (which of course meant that women of colour got the double whammy) but frankly, if that is what it was like (and I know it wasn't much different here in Australia), I can only be glad I wasn't alive yet. Growing up in the Eighties, in the lingering shadow of the remnants of the White Australia Policy* was uncomfortable. Being called names by the parents of my fellow students, and having said students repeat them is still rather disturbing to me, and so this play was, well quite provocative.

I did enjoy it though, I was surprised by how many of the songs I had heard before. I could almost sing along to most of them.

*Although the policy was fully disbanded in the early 70's, it took a lot longer for the people to follow suit. My Mother, arriving in the country later that decade and being one of two Chinese women in the town she was living in, made her an unusual sight. The other woman was the Doctors wife, and older matronly type that people didn't want to annoy as she ran the reception at his office. People used to come and stare at my mum. People don't like to talk of it, or think of it, but some people do still treat you differently when they talk to you on the phone, and then see you in person and realise you're Chinese (or black, or something other than the fully white person they were expecting after you spoke so beautifully to them on the phone). I've had people recoil when I introduce myself. Not much, because for the most part they can tell I'm Eurasian, but that's it. My Mum still gets it quite regularly. Because obviously a Chinese person must have a Chinese accent. But she doesn't.

Friday, October 15, 2010

never darken my doorstep

I had my name blackened and dragged through the mud by one of those customers today. The kind of person with such an immense sense of entitlement that when other people in Customer Service describe them to you, you honestly think they're joking. She was abusive, she was demanding, she called me names and was so agressive, that I actually refused to talk to her today. My manager said she would talk to her, so I took B at her word; She talked to the customer. I was being "She"'d, I was being "that girl"'d, and I, in the back with my other co-worker K, was really about to go tell the customer off if she used my name like an invective one more time. I have never wanted to smack anyone before. But I honestly did with this woman. Unpleasant is one word.

I suppose the positive of the entire unpleasant experience was, after shouting at my boss after he told her we needed to be paid, she declared that she would never set foot in our shop again. (Also, she did pay. After it was pointed to her that she would not receive her machine back until she paid, and my Boss offered to take her to court over the money.)

I don't think she appreciates how small the Apple repair community in the metro area is. I can think of no more than maybe eight, five of those are warranty centres. So, when she gets herself removed from the other 7... Well. I suppose at that point you have to send your machine away to get repaired. And pay a premium for it.

Normally I would be upset by this kind of thing, as it was uncalled for and rude and really offensive, but to be honest, this woman (and her husband!) is her own worst enemy, and I wish her upon herself.

And may I never set eyes upon her again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I hate to talk of this

I had an unpleasant encounter this morning at work.

An ex-coworker (and believe me, if he hadn't been an ex-coworker then, he would be now) came in and said something really really rude and threatening to me for me to pass on to another female coworker.

And I just. I don't escalate confrontations. I don't believe in doing that, but if he had been one iota less whatever he was, I would have told him how unacceptable his language and behaviour towards me was.

But I didn't say anything because he was right in my face, and I was really not okay with that.

And now I have a headache and feel really small.

ETA: He called and apologised. Which makes it better but still not okay.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I don't generally like

I don't generally like swearing. People tend to use the f-word, and various other swear words at the drop of hat, sometimes literally. I can count the number of times I have used "the usual" swear words on two hands with fingers left over.

But even though I dislike swearing, that doesn't mean that when something terrible happens, or someone is really really wrong, I don't want (or have) words to use.

Some words came from (the Harry Potter) fandom. Words such as T00b, or my favourite, ass-hat. Calling someone an ass-hat, or telling them they are t00berific can be satisfying, although since I started at my current job more than a year ago, another word has been introduced to me.

I learned it from my co-worker K, who when really frustrated with something or someone, and at work will say "You PEANUT!". Peanut, is an excellent thing to shout at someone. It's a non-offensive word that never the less conveys your feelings about them at that particular moment.

Although I still wouldn't use it on customers whilst in hearing distance :P Not even if they well and truly deserved it.

And when I am really annoyed, and want to vent steam, I have a phrase that my mother uses :D I won't try to write it, as I'll spell it wrong. But it is really really effective. <3

I am on a horse (Moo!) cow.

Most awesome muppet parody ever.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Do you know what this weekend is?

It is (a) frustration weekend. It is a weekend where I will have to drive slowly down two of the main roads that lead to my house, because drunk people will randomly stagger (or run) across the road. Where I will be cut off by buses (and trailers, and god knows what else), and the speed limit will drop down from 70/80 to 20/30kmh. Causing a half hour car ride to turn into a possibly hour long trip.

This is the festival known as Spring in the Valley. Normally, it brings 60,000 visitors to "The Swan Valley" of which I am a resident. However, organisers in their wisdom decided for 2010 to make it a month long event. No consultation of residents, nothing.

Excellent for the local economy, very difficult for the people who have to live here.

So after this weekend, there will be next weekend. And the weekend after. And...

Is it November yet?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Link Roundup

What an exhausting week! And there was only four days of it. This is what I've been reading recently. Because I've been reading this in downtime at work, it's just ABC at present - I've also been reading and commenting over at Hoyden About Town.

Several pieces at The Drum;

Clementine Ford writes stop blaming feminists for the world's problems in response to an article by Virgina Haussegger. Also, most of the issues outlined in Virgina Haussegger's article are in fact human rights issues, not just issues for feminists, or women.

Katrina Fox wrote an excellent post about the disturbing culture of rape being a women issue. As opposed to being the issue of men, it always seems to fall to women to be "safe"; to not get drunk in public, to never be overly promiscuous as it may invite unwanted attention, to always make sure they have a responsible friend to look after them in the event that they do "make themselves vulnerable".

And finally, Melinda Tankard Reist writes "Sexism is Alive and Well in Australia". It includes several links that made me rather cross, (including) did anyone else hear about the Gold Coast Turf Club plan to run women as "fillies and mares" on a race track later this year, in bikinis and runners? Talk about a set back for everyone - including the peanuts who came up with this idea. It is a very good article, even if the content involved is of the very angry-making kind.