Posts by TracyMac

  • Up Front: It's Beginning to Look a Lot…, in reply to Moz,

    Not to fan any more flames, but I did say that recusing yourself is a valid strategy, and did make it clear that my personal strategy was my own. (Also, my family dynamics have changed dramatically in the last 30 years, thankfully.)

    The passive-aggressive remark was more about individuals in general who participate, but complain and refuse to share the labour (and it was definitely gendered), not you personally.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Access: Lest we forget: the influenza…,

    Interesting piece of history, thanks.

    Regarding the "miasma" stuff, I know if people in my grandparents' generation who muttered about "bad air" and so on. They certainly knew and believed in germ theory - scrubbing everything with boiling hot water and strong disinfectants was a feature of any illness.

    But folk theories can persist in parallel with scientific knowledge for a very long time. I wouldn't be surprised at all if people at the beginning of last century hedged their bets by considering both. And quite possibly, marginally-educated people would not be that aware of germ theory either.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: It's Beginning to Look a Lot…, in reply to Moz,

    You're eliding "willing participation" and "being asked to help".

    If you're not a willing participant, then I'd suggest not participating at all. It seems better to me than being an unwilling participant and going on passive-aggressive strike when asked to share the labour.

    And I say this as someone who dislikes most of these ceremonial events and who has seen plenty of unnecessary and martyred behaviour around them.

    A gracious thing to do when recusing yourself from them is to offer some kind of alternative to the host (if you're actually invested in maintaining a connection, and these events are important to them). "Sorry, I don't think I will come to Christmas lunch this year, but can I drop off the kids' presents the week before and take you to dinner/lunch sometime instead?"

    An alternative strategy is to propose it's done a different way. Some people have the whole thing at a restaurant. We have a potluck in the park.

    Personally, I've decided that pitching in once a year isn't too bad in the greater scheme of things, since (frankly) it's less labour than trying to maintain connections individually. It also helps I don't outright detest any family members and our gatherings are more awkward than drama-filled.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: They want to blow it all up,

    I think Pinker is often a wang, and the "eat your dinner, there are starving children in Africa" and "whinging feminists should try living in Saudi/Iran" is pretty much the epitome of wangness in argument.

    We may be doing better compared to 30 years ago, but we *should* be. We should be better than 5 years ago. And it's easy enough to go backwards - I personally feel Australia is half a generation behind NZ now.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Protecting privilege in Epsom, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Regarding the effect on pepper-potting on urban Maori communities, yes, it makes a significant difference when the faces you see around you are mostly brown, and the culture is embedded in THE community culture as a whole - not just the "other" or a token. I'm not at all surprised their experience wasn't that great - obviously pakeha cultural dominance is just that, even with variations due to class/economic difference.

    There's a simple but cool site ( that animates the Schelling model of segregation. It's purely mathematical, with only one variable and all the avatars having the same tolerance levels. But it came up with an interesting notion that while higher tolerance for difference leads to less segregation, it needs to be coupled with an intolerance for a lack of diversity in a community to create a lasting effect (not that minority groups have much choice about their tolerance levels either way). The model also emphasises in one of its examples that when moving avatars around to achieve a good mix, they should be moved in pairs - not alone. Isolation, even in the attempt to "improve" things, is not good. Interesting how a simple model can point to some truths.

    In reality, I do feel that there are definite tipping points before a community can be properly inclusive (and by "inclusive", I mean where cultural differences are not subsumed - the "salad bowl" rather than the "melting pot" of optimistic metaphors). In the old model of pepper-potting, where the housing was sometimes a bit denser than the surroundings, but not that much, it would not have reached those thresholds very often.

    The best school experience I had in that sense was at AGGS. The catchment area wasn't too gentrified yet in the 80s, and a lot of girls from Queen Vic went there for their Bursary year. As a poor pakeha, I felt a bit daunted by the Old Girls and historical context of the school (like the Madrigal Society!), but the fact there were plenty of people in my boat - all the state and council housing in Freeman's Bay - made it fine once I noticed. And it was really diverse in terms of ethnicity.

    Maori and various Polynesian cultures seemed to get a lot of prominence and celebration - I hope those students felt so too. Maori and Poly students certainly had strong pride, but I don't know to what degree they felt it related to the school. Ironically, I didn't realise just how competitive the secondary schools' kapa haka events could be until I was at AGGS. Or, that there was really such a thing as "middle-class Maori", other than a few teachers I'd had previously. That woke up a lot of my ideas.

    So yes, these new public housing efforts must ensure there are enough people around "like them" to make a strong community without running into the issue of ghettoisation and "sink estates" a la crappy places in the UK/Europe. A challenging balancing act, but I do feel it's possible.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Noisy Library…, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Thank YOU, Simon. For the whole enterprise.

    I totally get it re timing "retrospective" articles on active acts/scenes, but I'm really glad you're covering that one off imminently!

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Access: Of value in and of itself,

    Congratulations on taking up your studies again. While I hope you will be able to follow up with an academic career, even doing your current research and writing, and publishing a dissertation, will make a big contribution to the body of knowledge on a significant number of people in our society.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: A Word About Safety, in reply to Craig Young,

    In my experience as a member of both, the BDSM communities are not as fragmented as the queer ones, at least in Australia and NZ.

    Of course, yes, there are sub-communities with particular interests, and leather men tend to be very much into their own scene (not many public kink events go in for sex on premises, whereas of course gay bathhouses facilitate it l. And each town tends to have their own prevailing micro-cultures and "influencers".

    But there's more mixing in general compared to the more "parallel play" of queer communities (although that has definitely been undergoing change itself over the last several years in terms of being more cohesive - at least that's my impression).

    My impression of the SF scene - not that I have ever participated in it - was that there were two factors that splintered things a fair amount.

    One is that if there are significant numbers of people into so many arcane things, they're going to tend to glom onto the particular speciality scene that is particularly to their taste. There are SO many kinky scenes in SF- why would you spend significant time with old school leather men if you were an egalitarian vegan lesbian Japanese rope nerd? (I'm not exaggerating very much.)

    Whereas in at least one town in NZ, there were so few "good" tops/doms around that the otherwise-inclined formed a group where they would take turns taking care of business for each other. Everyone had preferences and no-goes, but they also adapted to various things that may not have been 1st on their menus. And I think that's still a significant ethos for our smaller communities - there's more mixing and matching. We don't mind sharing space, in general.

    Secondly, in SF, there was a huge impact from the "lesbian sex wars" and the anti-porn (which generally conflated to anti-sexual-violence) branches of feminism, particularly during the mid-80s to mid-90s, when Califia started getting published more prolifically.

    Those influcences hit NZ as well - ironically, I was put off kink for many years by a certain bunch of women in Auckland who might have taken Macho Sluts a little bit to heart in their behaviour at vanilla parties. And the overly puritanical side was also in force - I remember some very earnest debates on whether penetrative sex (not even with strap-ons!) was "unPC". Funnily enough, everyone I actually shagged seemed quite keen on the act.

    But my impression was that those debates weren't quite so polarising and long-lasting as they were in the US. There were a hell of a lot less people in NZ who'd done gender studies or whatever at university in NZ, and had that much time or energy for the more rarefied debates. Although debates WERE had.

    Finally, I think the combination of the smorgasbord environment and socio-political disputes had a synergistic effect in SF - the latter widened the small cracks that were already there.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Noisy Library…,

    Audioculture is a real treasure, and genuinely one of the best sites of the past decade. The Aussies certainly have nothing like it. I'm trying to rack my brain for somewhere else that does.

    While the site is obviously about the stories and pics, I do think the NZ-on-Air and other publicly funded music videos are invaluable. Not too much quibbling with record labels, if they were so motivated.

    The only thing I wish for on the site (other than MOAR of the excellent stuff in general), is more from younger contributors. I've been away from NZ for 20 years, more or less, and yet I recognise the vast majority of performer names on the site. Sure, I quaintly stock up on CDs when I'm home, listen to the student stations (why does George play so little local music?), and check out the recommendations here, but still. Yay for pretty much breaking Lorde here... but there's no article on her on Audioculture.

    So, non-GenXers/boomers, please contribute! My own musical experience peak was around the turn of the millennium - all the great electronica, including pre-Skrillex dubstep. But now I like a fair amount of trap (sue me), bands like the Upbeats (ahem) are still getting around, so there must be more newer acts back home worthy of an article.

    (I know Audioculture isn't a news site, but I thought Stellar* were pretty cool when I finally encountered them just a few years back, as one example.)

    I'm sure it's easier to reminisce about things when perhaps memories aren't so raw, so I get why there's not many super-current acts. Conversely, while they probably aren't so much into moody shots under motorway bridges (on Ilford or Tri-X film where money was barely scraped together for development/prints even when someone had darkroom access at art school), acts today are all over different kinds of media. Surely I am not the only one who wants screenshots or even links to cringeworthy or cool MySpaces or Tumblrs or Bandcamps?

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: A Word About Safety,

    I get sick of this stupid trope that consent is ONLY granted in a kink context via the use of safe words.

    I don't use safe words at all in private play, except when someone I'm playing with happens to use them. I personally prefer the words "stop", "slow down", and "I'm not sure if I like this, but I'll see how I go" to retain their usual meanings. Obviously I'm happy to negotiate that, but I've done so just once. Lots of people pipe up with the "traffic signals" in extremis, and that is obviously instantly understandable too.

    That all requires some experience and trust on both sides, to understand that absolutely anything can be a safe word when it's delivered in the right tone. As the inimitable Laura Antoniou says, you have to be terminally stupid or unambiguously abusive to not halt proceedings if someone says, "I am going to pick up the phone and dial the cops if you don't instantly stop what the fuck you're doing."

    For play with strangers, I stick to the conventions, although I do explain that "stop" means STOP to me. That they should continue to use their preferred safewords, but unless they make it clear I should do otherwise right now, "stop" means play will halt. And to be honest, if they use the word and they didn't mean to in that sense, I don't care if it breaks the mood when I stop and check in. Or if I hear or see anything that's the slightest bit ambiguous..

    There are literally 2 people I can completely "let go" with in a scene, and that comfort and understanding has to be *earned* on both sides over time. As it should be.

    ... And here's me nerdily explaining all my stuff in great depth. Proof!

    Anyway, fuck safe words as an attempted get-out clause. Consent is an active process, and if you have someone VOMITING (let alone all the other stuff) , why the hell are you not checking in (unless you've very specially negotiated your emetic scene, and if it's the first time, I'm going to be checking in anyway).

    Yes, some people want to become quivering messes on the floor, but complete loss of control requires a lot of trust and build-up. I've personally refused to play with acquaintances who utterly "lose themselves" (or seem to) in public play - it doesn't feel safe for ME.

    Anyway, this arsewipe is the kink equivalent of the drunk-date rapist - "But she didn't say no! How could I have known she didn't want it?!"

    People, including juries, need to understand that the actual test is how you positively knew she (he/they) DID want it. It's not hard.

    On another note, would you consider using the terms top/bottom as more generic terms for the parties in a kink scenario? All doms are tops, but not all tops are doms (ahem). Also, dom/sub tends more to imply fixed roles in a relationship, while top/bottom can equally apply to roles or who's doing what in a particular scene (physical or not).

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

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