The Brave & The Bold: Melinda Tankard-Reist.

I have a great respect for those who go against the grain, who are strong enough in their convictions to stand up for what they believe in regardless of the cost. No one makes positive changes in the world without making some enemies or facing some discouraging attacks.

About two years ago (or around about) I was going through a break up with a guy who I truly had hoped was ‘the one.’ For a number of reasons, I can see now that he was not — but I was in a deep grief over the way that this person cruelly broke up with me. I was in the middle of a blame game because the person couldn’t do me the justice of ever giving me a real reason and release my heart in a normal and humane way.

There were a number of things in my mind that I could chalk up to the reason as to why he left me. And of course, I put all of those things on myself. Did I do something wrong? Was I not enough for him? Did I not love him enough? Was I not beautiful enough? Did he leave me because I wasn’t sure I could conceive? Perhaps things would have been different, had I not received a message from an ex of his early in our relationship, assuring me that he was cheating on her with me, among other things, so regardless of how much I wanted to love him, there was no trust in the beginning. I began thinking about other situations that took place in my relationship with him, as well as previous circumstances in past relationships.

I myself, have always been like a dog with a bone in certain areas of my life, and I don’t relent on something that I believe firmly in. Most of that pertains to how I demand to be treated. I am a firm believer in the idea that you teach people how to treat you. More so, I will be blunt in how I expect any future men to treat me based on my past (and apparently limited) experiences with the opposite sex. I did not ever want to be objectified again, I did not want to accept any boyfriend trying to coerce me in to sex or making me feel like I’m lesser of a woman for saying no. I did not want someone to leave me if it turns out that I can’t conceive. I’m a woman there is more to me than a uterus. I never ever wanted to accept the feeling of fear of the opposite sex, or mistrust because of what they would/could expect from me based on their stupid flirts in strip bars or other. If I chose to wait til marriage to have sex again — what of it? As long as I don’t spring it on someone mid-way through a relationship, then why should I be made to feel like I’ve done something wrong? I don’t want someone to treat me like their conquest — I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than let a single person conjure up all of those feelings again. And what a lonely thought…

And wow, didn’t these thoughts bring out the crazy when I jumped back in to the dating game…

I started reading Melinda Tankard-Reist’s blog in the middle of 2010 and read her book Defiant Birth which closely related to my own situations dealing with conception, pregnancy and more. Through reading her blogs, following her on twitter and reading about her campaigns, I started to realise that I was not the only one who saw degredation and misogyny in the way most men view/treat and hold expectations of women. I always felt like I was the only one who felt puzzled by females who accept any of the above treatment from men, or worse, emotional or physical abuse. Sometimes, I actually resolved that I was just being a prude or that there was something flawed in my thinking. But no, what I want/desire can be summed up in to one basic word;

Respect.

Melinda’s books and her blogs certainly helped me let go of this dizzying and false notion that my ex boyfriend was actually the one and that despite how much I pined for him, he was not who or what I wanted to accept in my life. Thus, I was able to (despite the heartache that doesn’t simply turn off) move on and deal with things a lot better. I would say that Melinda’s work was instrumental in helping me realise I could have never provided what that ex would have wanted or expected from me. And I am just one person, I can only imagine how many young women she has influenced in positive ways, how many girls who have seen themselves in victims of the things she campaigns against; porn, emotional/physical abuse, misogyny and more.

I wanted to write this post mostly about Melinda and less about me, but I wanted to point out that what Melinda Tankard-Reist is doing, is showing girls and young women (like myself) how to respect themselves. This doesn’t mean she’s pushing any views about saving yourself til marriage (apparently that’s just me!! lol) or telling girls what to do with their bodies or trying to push any such agenda. She is showing others the society for what it is — a deeply misogynistic one that, if recognised for what it is, can be fought against.

She campaigns against advertisers, corporations and popular culture media when they overstep their boundaries and put children or women at risk. In the past week and more I have seen the most disgusting and offensive things written about her by women and men alike, some of whom are supposed to be professional peers. I find it disturbing and upsetting the way people can be, but it just cements my belief that someone who is doing a good thing will always be met with road blocks and bumps along the way. Because Melinda and other feminists like herself stand up for women, it gives me a confidence to also stand up and share my thoughts and ideas (as controversial as I’ve come to realise they apparently are!) and I am surprised by just how many other women feel the same but have been previously too scared to say much as it is taboo to tell men how we really feel when they treat us certain ways.

Melinda Tankard-Reist, regardless of any beliefs she may or may not hold (Christian or other), is doing an amazing job at keeping many children (possibly yours) safe and free of sexualisation one campaign (sometimes many) at a time, along with many of her other amazing peers who support causes and campaigns that reach out to people like me who have had a very long history with being treated less-than and inferior by other people.

These people who have been saying nasty things, trolling, bleeding hatred from their nasty words with anonymous screen-names or even bold professional ones, need to be concerned with themselves. Disagreeing with her ideas or opinions is one thing, but public slander and bullying, threats of sexual abuse (something I encountered myself via twitter) is just proving every point about degredation she has ever endeavoured to make.

I think Melinda Tankard-Reist is an amazing woman, admirable, articulate, brave and courageous for being able to stand up and fight for what she believes in and what is right. She stands up for her convictions even if it is going against the grain. She deserves to be given more credit and more respect than is currently being afforded.

Thank you, Melinda, for all that you do.

How I narrowly missed getting punched in the face by a bogan.

Not a lot of things surprise me anymore. I say that from a jaded, cynical point of view of a 28-year-old shut-in who detests most of the things outside the comfortable doors of her close surroundings. (Almost poetic, isn’t it?!) I hate crowds, I hate rude people, I hate walking behind people who stop in the middle of the walk-way, I dream of a time where I could punch everyone who annoys me square in the face without consequence… But while that would be the sweetest thing ever, the thing or collective community of people that I detest the most are bogans.

This little black spot on society threatens my constant and overinflated sense of safety as I know it. For some reason, and no, I don’t know why – but I discovered just as recent as this past week, that bogans are a constantly defensive and paranoid people – even in a situation where there is no need.

Let me tell you a story.

It was last Saturday morning. I live around 1hr and 10 minutes from the Melbourne metropolitan train line, thus I have to take a special service called Vline to my rural stop. There are lots of pluses about being on a Vline service, but unfortunately it seems that the minuses far outweigh the good – let’s change the word minus to bogan. Bogans, without fail, ruin my train experience. Every, single, time.

I was surprised by how busy the train was on this early Saturday morning service, considering that bogans don’t usually wake til around noon (perhaps there was a special on Bundy & Coke or Holden paraphernalia that morning), but never-the-less, I managed to find a double seat all to myself. I plugged my earphones in to my Iphone 4S (yes, I’m a fat cat) and clutched tightly to my worldly possessions and looked out the window minding my own business while pleasing my ears with the Official Broadway Soundtrack of Wicked. Yep, already I reek of snobbery, I know.

I was actually really quite enjoying the train trip and managed to get a good fifty or so pages in of the current book that I am reading. As the trip neared to an end, I needed to organise for someone to pick me up from the station. We were nearing to one, and as I’d been reading I had lost track of the train’s location. I happened to look up in the direction of the digital monitor that displays the next stop. I came eye-to-eye with a young girl, who looked around my age (shut up and stop laughing at my use of the term ‘young girl’ married with ‘my age’). She was standing in the way of my view of the monitor, but I quickly had figured out I was at least a stop or two from my destination, so I looked away and back to my book.

Let me be clear. I did not look at her with any nastiness; I did not change my expression to disgust to find she was blocking my view. I simply looked up, saw she was standing waiting to get off the next stop and just as simply looked away again. The whole incident lasted probably about 2 seconds.

I was still blasting my music, “Nessa… Dr Dillamond… Fiyero…. Fiiiiiiyeeeeeroooooooo!” That type of thing… you understand. I thought I could hear someone carrying on, and it just so happened that the song was changing.

In the silence between songs, I could hear a commotion of the bogan persuasion. This is not unusual on a Vline, but like a car wreck, it’s hard not to look up. When I did, I saw that same woman who was in my view glaring at me, changing from a normal, centered-looking woman to an aggressive, defensive monster.

All I could see was her mouth going and a voice that didn’t look as though it belonged to her, going off. I was confused and I hadn’t registered that she was speaking – nay—yelling at me.

It wasn’t til I looked to my seatmates on the opposite side of the train to see that they were looking at me with horror that I realised she was speaking to me. I took my ear bud out and looked back at her. I am the type of person who cannot hide my feelings on my face. If I don’t like you, you’ll know it. If you amuse me, I can’t help but to laugh. If I am being a smart arse, I get a certain look of superiority and smugness happening. That’s me.

I must have had that smug and half-amused expression on my face.

Now, part of my own issue is that sometimes I seem to forget that I am a weigh 58kgs and am only 4ft9. (130lbs around about and 148cm!) … And just because I feel mighty, doesn’t mean it will stop some paranoid bogan from punching my head at some stage because I don’t know how to shut up. However, my past dictates that I let far too many bogans and losers speak to me and treat me like rubbish, and so now I am the polar opposite. I have no time for silliness or for someone trying to pick a fight with me.

I said to her, “Sorry, what?”

And she went off. “I said, what the f*ck do you think you’re lookin’ at?” in a voice that could only be compared with one of the chicks from this video here. (Warning: SO much bad language in this video). I’m not even kidding, this is almost exact to how she sounded.

I laughed inappropriately and said, “Are you kidding?”

And she let out another bunch of expletives. I’m sure she said she’d “smash the f*ck” out of me, or something. And if I know bogans like I think I do, they’re mostly all piss and wind. I rolled my eyes at her. I remained calm and still amused the whole time.

I told her to calm down, I explained that regardless of how lovely a thought it would be to think that I was staring at her, I was just looking to see the next train stop.

She continued to carry on and to be honest, her swearing just seemed to bury whatever accusation she was making against me and I’d had enough.

I sighed and shook my head. I gave a slight laugh and put my ear bud back in and resolved the issue with, “For goodness sakes, … just piss off.”

Her train stopped and I could hear her carrying on all the way down to the train exit and as she got off and on to the platform and I could still see her as she walked past my side of the train looking at me with her narrowed, shifty and accusing eyes swearing and calling me all of the abusive names under the sun.

My across-the-way seatmates were laughing uncomfortably and shaking their heads in disgust and offered to me that they hadn’t seen me even look up at her and that she was clearly crazy.

But no, my friends, this is just the normal wrath of a bogan on a vline train service.

So… I propose that Vline ban all bogans from boarding their services lest they ruin the experience for those of us who are not paranoid about other people looking at us, talking about them, or generally doing anything while minding our own businesses.