Anti-Racism outside of Media Paradigms

In this weeks class there was a lot of focus on how Muslims are represented in Australia and what it means to be Australian in regards to the treatment of Muslims in public. For me (in regards to the videos watched where “Australians” were seen sticking up for Muslims being targeted by Islamophobes in public), standing up for someone – in this case a targeted Muslim – does not make one Australian, it’s a natural human response. This also further brings to question what exactly it means to be Australian? If we were to judge by what was seen in the videos, one would think that to be Australian would mean being heroically white – inarguably a very questionable point.

However, what surprised me was that there was no mention of the change of relationships between muslim and non-muslim people, especially after several global responses over the last few months. It seems that since 9/11, the media has got the world in a tangle in regards to muslim-hate, derived from terror attacks world-wide. We haven’t been led to realise that the Islamist’s performing these attacks are part of a very minor group (I doubt that there was a lot of Christian-hate during the KKK movements in the 1800’s – although I do think that reasoning for lack of fear in comparison to recent Islamophobia is due to the differences in what media sources were available during each time). Instead, the media have taken the angle that all Muslim’s are bad, in some cases it’s been so extreme that different areas now have Burqa bans – which is taking the Muslim-hate issue to an stand-point well beyond discrimination. Although, the last couple of years have seen a change in how Muslim’s have been represented. The world finally caught on to the media representations and people started forming their own thoughts. Which has got us to the point of unity that we are at now. The first occasion being that of the overwhelming response to the Sydney Siege, where the hashtag #illridewithyou became viral and saw Muslims and non-Muslims alike band together as one. Another occasion where the world showed global unity was at the freedom march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack. A particular moment that stood out for me whilst I watched the march on TV was when a Pakistani and Israeli man were standing next to each other, noticed one another – two strangers – and embraced. Proving to everyone that there is no hatred, we are standing up to those who are trying to create a separation.
While what we studied in class demonstrated this to a degree, it was limited in that it only showed reactions to bullying in a public place, and highlighted how to react in an ‘Australian’ manner. When in fact terrorism is a global problem, not just local to Australia. And how people respond isn’t a contributing factor to one’s national identity; responding to threatening behaviour (whether it be standing up for someone in public or a city rallying together) in regards to race is a global response, which demonstrates unity and anti-discrimination in practice.


Gender and the State of the Newsroom

The focal point for this weeks topic was where women stand in terms of equality in media jobs. While it is very well known that women and men are treated differently in the media workforce, there is little emphasis ever put on sexuality in the workforce.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine left his job at a well known TV station. While this is not an unusual happening, his reason for leaving had me feeling shocked, and surprised at finding out that treatment of this sort is still happening. My friend felt forced to finish up his 10 year career with a major Australian TV company because he was severely bullied in the workplace for being gay. While I will not go into details of the bullying that he was receiving, further research has led me to discovering that he is not alone in this type of workplace discrimination.
Although same-sex marriage is still yet to be legalised in this country, I thought it to be absolutely absurd that something so unimportant, such as a person’s sexuality to still be an issue not only in the workplace, but also in general. For starters, we’re in the 21st century, sexuality shouldn’t matter! Secondly, we live just shy of Sydney, one of the top ten gay friendly cities in the world, so one would think, if anything, that being gay in this area would be well supported by society!

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry which was commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2006, harassment of LGBT persons in the workplace is still a common occurrence. Leaving many LGBT workers feeling like they’re being targeted and needing to forfeit their careers to escape from the homophobic environment. In some cases, applicants have been unsuccessful in getting jobs and promotions for being homosexual. The Inquiry also found that, when feeling forced to leave a position due to discrimination, the victim rarely takes legal action, which I found interesting as my friend chose not to take legal action when leaving his job. The example that is used in the Inquiry speculates that the reason for not taking legal action may be due to the ‘who knows who’ in the particular industry that the worker was from, which can also be applied to media jobs, although my friends reasoning for not taking action was simply because he wanted to move on from what had happened.

In terms of benefits and roles within certain jobs, it seems that roles that members of the LGBT community have within the media are similar to that of women. For example, homosexuals are given ‘soft stories’ to cover ie; Richard Reid, the Today Show’s token celebrity gossip guru.
And in terms of entitled leave, same-sex couples aren’t guaranteed parental leave, as the WorkChoices legislation has narrow definitions for the terms ‘spouse’ and ‘child’, meaning that homosexual co-parents aren’t guaranteed the leave due to the legislations definition of ‘paternity leave’. This is also the same for work-related travel entitlements, as same-sex partners is not included in the definition of ‘spouse’.

The Inquiry concludes the segment on homosexual treatment in the workplace by recommending that definitions and clauses in several legislations need to be amended in order for there to be equal treatment amongst homosexual and heterosexual persons in the workforce, and I couldn’t agree more.

Campaigning for Animals

It’s been two weeks since we did the in-class study of animal cruelty. Two weeks and it is still constantly on my mind. Thinking about what we were researching makes me feel sick and horribly angry. I’ve also annoyed my boyfriend because apparently I never stop talking about Blackfish either. I’ve always been an animal lover and growing up have always believed that I have this ability to connect with animals – like an animal whisperer.

Contrary to my opinion regarding ‘ignorance is bliss’ in relation to war images, in terms of animal cruelty, I’ve (quite ashamedly) remained dutifully ignorant. This is in no way because I don’t care, it is because I can’t stand to watch or know of these instances happening and knowing about it makes me deeply sad.
When watching the Four Corners episode on the live cattle exports to Indonesia, I found that my head was constantly turned, I couldn’t bare to watch what was happening. I struggled to even watch the ‘humane’ method of stunning cattle. While I think that this expose was necessary, I personally preferred the bubble that I was living in prior to watching this. Eating meat has always been a sensitive point for myself. I am not a vegetarian. I have tried several times, but have not followed through. Not because I am low-driven, but because I am human, and humans were made omnivores. We need the protein that is in both meat and plants. While there are substances available, I find that my body really struggles with the absence of meat in my diet.
However, in saying that, monitoring how these animals are being prepared for the abattoir needs to be strict. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for hurting and injuring animals, not only for the sake of the animal, but also for the consumer as the meat isn’t going to be tender if the animal’s muscles were tight at the time of death.

In regards to Blackfish, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an arrangement of emotion in 90minutes in my life! The set up that SeaWorld has with the Orcas is beyond disgusting. Knowing what I do now since having watched Blackfish has left me feeling noticeably dumb and so naive as to what’s really going on. SeaWorld, like many other theme parks, really plays on the Disney effect. Happiness is constantly felt because everything is being so well looked after ….. NOT! Before watching Blackfish, the concept of their Orcas being held captive had never occurred to me. I believed in these amazing relationships between human and Killer Whale. I thought it was interesting to learn that the former SeaWorld trainers that were featured in the film were under the same belief too, proving that SeaWorld is particularly good at deceiving all. For the duration of the film I was in a state of shock. I was under the assumption that the animals used at SeaWorld were rescued, and was severely disheartened to learn that they were captured and separated from their families. You would’t take a child from a mother, so how does SeaWorld justify taking a calf from its mother? Clearly, they justify it with dollar signs. Which is sick, but also proven in several cases regarding the death of trainers at their parks. It’s become almost a pattern now, that when a death occurs at a SeaWorld or affiliate park, the blame is quickly pointed at the trainer. This is absolutely cowardly. There are several reasons as to why Orcas have killed trainers, for example frustration – the pools that they are kept in are in no way comparative to their natural habitat, to make comparisons, it would be like a human being trapped inside a 4×4 room for the entirety of their lives. I know I certainly would’t enjoy that, so what makes SeaWorld think a huge, wild animal would enjoy being held captive in a tiny pool when compared to their natural environment of the ocean?!
Another reason for trainer deaths affiliated with Orcas is because the Orca simply wants to play, although for obvious reasons, Orca’s and humans playing together isn’t going to work. Another (obvious) reason for Orca’s attacking is because it is in their nature! They are wild animals who pray on smaller sized species. When hungry or being starved of food, if a human foot is to slip into the pool, of course they are going to lunge for it – it’s food!
While these are just some examples as to why captive Orca’s have attacked humans, they are enough to prove that no matter how well a person may think they know an animal, they can’t change what natural instincts these animals have!
While I am glad that SeaWorld haven’t euthanised Tilikum (the whale that most recently killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau) our reasons for keeping him alive are very different. Instead of putting Tilikum in a Sea Sanctuary (as explained in a National Geographic interview with a former SeaWorld trainer) SeaWorld have kept Tilikum as their sperm donor. They pay people to masturbate this whale on a regular basis so that they can gather the sperm and inseminate other female whales. While this is blatantly disgusting, this also creates further issues as the majority of the whales being produced at SeaWorld are fathered by Tilikum, meaning that SeaWorld have created inbred whales.
While the easy thing to say in protest to SeaWorld is ‘release the Orca’s’, unfortunately this can’t be done. As most of the whales have been raised in captivity (and are inbred), there are a lot of health issues which surround that, making Sea Sanctuaries the best place for them.
Since watching Blackfish, I have re-watched it, researched articles related to Orca’s being held captive and searched for organisations petitioning against SeaWorld. With companies like National Geographic interviewing former trainers and advocates against SeaWorld emerging, I hope that the end to Orca’s in captivity will be coming to an end soon. I know I’m definitely going to be doing what I best can to help this movement!

Looking at Others

The focal point in this weeks topic was the image of Afghan woman, Aisha who was on the cover of Time magazine in 2010. The publishing of this image on the front cover of the magazine was met with much scrutiny and controversy. Issues were raised not about Aisha’a mutilated face, but the caption with which accompanied the photo – ‘What Happens if we leave Afghanistan’. A pretty cocky title if you ask me. The combination of those 6 words with the picture of Aisha represent exploitation and an absurd twisted kind of guilt trip, attempting to make readers feel that we must keep sending our troops over to Afghanistan to save the women who “evidently” can’t look after themselves. Upon reading the article itself, one quickly notices that Aisha is barely even mentioned – her image is just a nasty selling point. Needless to say, if sales and publicity is what Time were aiming for with this issue, they definitely succeeded.
Stemming from the publishing of images like Aisha’s comes the question, should confronting images (particularly war photo’s) be made available for the public to see? In short, I think that war images should be published, they need to be seen. A lot of people seem to live by ‘ignorance is bliss’, which is fair enough, as a lot of war images are very confronting, but I query how we can learn from our mistakes in an empathetic manner without having some sort of insight as to what is really going on. In the reading ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’, Susan Sontag states that ‘A photograph is supposed not to evoke but to show. that is why photographs, unlike hand-made images, can count as evidence’ (p. 42).
This point really reinforces why I think war images should be published. While they can make you feel squeamish, you are looking at what needs to change and have a form of evidence showing you why this shouldn’t happen again.
In terms of war, I don’t think ignorance is bliss, these images need to be seen, and the captions need to reflect the image in order to create a better understanding. If a picture is worth 1000 words, why is it that images that potentially convey the most meaning are being left unseen?