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Why don’t you piss in my mouth? / Γιατί δε μου κατουράς μέσα στο στόμα? (poem)

This poem is response to the product “Body Jane” which received EU funding. The product can be purchased as a drink bottle or a urinal. You can read more about it here in English or Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες κάντε κλικ εδώ here in Greek. This isn’t the first time this has happened. In 2012, a Sydney restaurant had urinals shaped like women’s mouths however complaints had them removed. From what I can see, “Body Jane” is still available.

This poem was written in Cyprus. After I spend some time in Cyprus my thoughts become Greek-Cypriot and so my poetry begins to come out in this language. I find this very interesting! Anyway, here we go. Thanks to Andreas Kyriakou for the translation which we did together.

(English version below)

Γιατί δε μου κατουράς μέσα στο στόμα?
Δεν είναι έτσι που θέλεις;
Για σένα είναι επιτρεπτό
γιατι διστάζεις τότε;
Τα λόγια μου τα θεωρείς γέλια
Το σωμα μου σκεύος ηδονής
Αλλά εγώ απαγορεύεται
Αλλά εγώ απαγορεύεται
Αλλά εγώ απαγορεύεται να την νιώσω,
Αλλιώς είμαι τσούλα

Θεωρείς τα λόγια μου γελοία,
Έτσι δεν είναι?
Για σένα δεν είμαι ούτε καν άνθρωπος
Πρέπει να είμαι χαζή
Πως μπορώ να είμαι έξυπνη αφού σε χρειάζομαι
να με καθοδηγάς κρατώντας μου το χέρι?

Πάρε το μπουκάλι με τα ούρα σου
Αυτό που έβαλες στο σώμα μου
Και πάρε το μαζί σου στα μπαράκια και πιες το σαν βότκα
Είναι δικό σου, όχι δικό μου
Αυτό σου αξίζει
Έτσι δεν είναι φαλλοκράτη μου?
Μωρό μου
Μωρο μου
Μωράκι μου

Στην υγειά σου!

Why don’t you piss in my mouth?
Isn’t that what you want to do?
You have the power to do it, so why not?
My words are a joke to you,
my body only for your pleasure
But I am not allowed to feel none
But I am not allowed to feel none
But I am not allowed to feel none
& if I do I am a slut

You laugh at my words, don’t you?
I must be sub-human to you
I must be dumb
How could I possibly be smart
when I need you to guide me
and tell me what to do?

Take the pee you placed in my body
out dancing for the night
& drink it like vodka
It is yours, not mine to take
That is what you deserve,
my patriarchy
my baby
baby, baby

Cheers!

Why don’t you piss in my mouth? / Γιατί δε μου κατουράς μέσα στο στόμα? (poem)2018-10-08T09:17:28+00:00

Tell It Like It Is: SEXPO confessions of a Greek poet

When I was twenty-three I attended SEXPO for the first time as a married woman and it was my first experience of seeing sex other than the sin/purity teachings of the Greek Orthodox religion. So attending SEXPO as an author and divorced woman many years later is my way of giving back at a grassroots level, of connecting with women and men who have suffered or are suffering from cultural and/or religious sexual repression.

Sydney SEXPO last week was my second SEXPO as an exhibitor/guest with my poetry book, Love and F**k Poems, a story of a Greek woman fleeing her marriage to find her sexual identity. I was shocked to discover how many men and women could relate to the topic of cultural and religious sexual repression. This was my first time giving a talk (interwoven with poetry) on this theme at SEXPO, but I was also at SEXPO during the entire health and sexuality lifestyle exhibition, signing copies of my book and chatting to people.

I have a chair at my table where people can sit with me and people do sit and chat for some time! I think people are really open with me when they talk about their lives and experiences because I am really open and honest in my performances and in my writing, but SEXPO also provides this environment, because it’s all out there. I like that people are really comfortable with me but this sometimes leads to me feeling helpless in some way that I can’t do more. I always advise people to seek therapy and to be patient with themselves. It takes a long time to heal from the damage of sexual repression and it is a journey, an evolution. Even I myself do not feel that I am completely ‘cured’ from the harmful effects religion and culture had on the psychology of my sexual health.

Unlike Melbourne where more women approached me, in Sydney it was the opposite. I spoke to slightly more men who were confused by the teachings around sex in their religion and culture. The people I spoke to were from a variety of ethnicities, faiths and ages and there was many people from migrant communities which I was pleased about. There were quite a few people who told me they came specifically to hear my talk because they were confused/scared about the role of sex in their life due to the teachings of their upbringing. It was confronting as I was talking to see people staring at me wide-eyed and frightened.

Some interesting stories

One man, in his seventies, approached my table and said that he had recently joined the Catholic faith as a way of connecting to Jesus Christ but he was troubled by the rules preaching that sex was a sin unless in marriage. He said he wanted to follow the rules so he could go to Heaven but that he had ended up in hospital because he had stopped masturbating to follow the faith and had severe pains. He was extremely distressed and asked me if I worry that I will be going to Hell because I have sex outside marriage and I said that I don’t. I used to be very scared that God would punish me for doing anything wrong but when I fled my marriage I also fled my faith and I shed this burden.

I also met a women in her fifties who was extremely distressed and said she found her body disgusting and had been taught sex is wrong by her Catholic religion. She was recently divorced and felt lost because she finally realised what these teachings did to her sexuality and she said she rarely had sex with her husband and didn’t enjoy it. She was extremely frightened and I chatted with her for some time and advised her to seek therapy as it is impossible to go through the journey alone. It gave her comfort that I had had a similar awakening and I got through to the other side after many years.

I also met a man who previously worked as a surrogate partner. Under the guidance of a therapist, he worked with women who have been severely repressed by culture and religion and are physically unable to have sex. He explained that in order to help the women open up, he would have to emotionally connect with them and then when they were able to have sex and the process was over, he would have to disconnect, and he found this challenging as he had fallen in love a few times.

I spoke to two men who had fled the Muslim faith in recent years and were learning how to embrace sex in a more positive way as opposed to negatively as it was in their faith. They were really happy I was at SEXPO and talking about this issue. They seemed very happy but told me it was an ongoing journey, overcoming the damage to find your sexual identity.

I spoke to a young, recently married couple and they had both decided to abandon their religion because they, only after being married, realised that being taught sex is a sin doesn’t change things for you once you get married. One was in the Greek Orthodox faith and the other Catholic from a Chinese migrant background. In fact, this is the one flaw in religion: that it assumes you can flip a switch in your mind once you are married and that sex can go from something bad to something good.

Tell It Like It Is: SEXPO confessions of a Greek poet2018-06-19T18:40:30+00:00

Statement regarding my poem ‘Indigenous woman’

I would like to apologise to any First Nation people for my poem ‘Indigenous Woman’ which was circulated on twitter today. I apologise if the poem hurt anyone. I didn’t mean to. My poetry is very much written in the moment and is a snapshot in time. Many people find my poetry challenging because of this and often my poems contradict each other. This is my poetry. It is my art. It is how I make sense of the world.

This poem was written in response to an incident on October 19th 2017 where I was thrown out of the Australian Women Writers Binders Group which was a group created to support Australian women writers. I had asked a question in the group questioning how the media and how media commentators were handling a particular issue involving an indigenous writer and high school students which I felt would be better handled by the department of education. This question offended some women in the group including a few of the indigenous women in the group which called for my banning from the group. They also referenced how I had questioned the bullying of Mia Freedman in the group in the past as I do not condone bullying of any kind.

Even after repeatedly apologising for offending any indigenous women in the group, I was thrown out and subsequently ignored by the admins even after repeated messaging. I was extremely distressed as they had messaged me to tell me that a post had been put up on the wall of the group saying that I had been banned from the group for repeated racism against First Nation people.

I wrote the poem after this incident and posted it on my social media channels but took it down half an hour later as I realised that within my angst, I may have not been seeing the situation clearly and I have not published or performed the poem since and I do not intend to. However someone screen shot the poem and it has been shared on social media today. I am sorry for any First Nation people who read this poem and were distressed by it or hurt by it. I am truly sorry. There is a line referencing Uluru which I am aware now is very problematic and I want to apologise for this line particularly.

None of the above is an excuse. It is just me adding some context to my poem as my poetry is very much in the moment and sometimes required context to avoid the hurt of others. Thank you.

Statement regarding my poem ‘Indigenous woman’2018-06-18T22:43:21+00:00

Tell it like it is: How political correctness strangled Amy Schumer

I am so over political correctness. It’s like a sea of words I keep drowning in. You got to appear to be the ‘correct’ kind of feminist or they’ll all come for you – and by ‘they’ I mean, feminists. It’s happened to me many times, that’s how I know.

I went to see the film ‘I feel pretty’ starring Amy Schumer last week despite the social backlash and reviews and social media noise citing it was offensive to women and feminism. And I loved it. It was one of the best chick flicks I’ve seen in a long time, but I think that makes me a bad feminist.

I feel pretty held a mirror to my uphill battle with my self-esteem issues

Okay, so here are some of the reviews:

From the Telegraph: “Amy Schumer’s body-positive comedy is cruel and self-defeating”

The Atlantic: “The new Amy Schumer vehicle tries to be a feminist fable—and fails badly.”

NY Times:  “‘I Feel Pretty’ Doesn’t Even Go Skin Deep”

Unfortunately, what reviews like this do is they stop women (and men) who need to see this film from seeing it. I am not a huge fan of Amy Schumer’s stand up, but her screen work has definitely pushed the boundaries of feminism, and with reviews like this I wonder why we are so hard on her.

There is so much political correctness surroundings this film: Amy isn’t fat enough to play a woman who suffers from self-esteem issues. That the film makes a mockery of the struggle of those women. Amy is too white to have experienced discrimination. And maybe all those things are true about Amy, but anyone that judges this film through that lens is only observing it at face value. They are not going deep enough and missing the point, because to me this film is not about any of that at all.

So many people, and particularly woman, are raised in environments where they are constantly told they are not good enough, and this manifests in all sorts of ways when you reach adulthood. It affects the way in which you relate to your friends, to lovers, it can affects your career and life goals. Suffering from self-esteem issues can be like a poison in your life. It can hold you back from success. I know this because I have experienced all this in my life, how the tentacles of self-esteem can wreak havoc in your life. What the film does successfully is that it takes this idea and challenges the viewer to consider how changing the way you think about yourself, changing the way you perceive yourself, can change your outcomes. And this is especially liberating to watch unfold on screen in a light-hearted, comedic way.

Also, this isn’t a documentary, it’s a chick flick. And since when do we believe that the girl would really end up with the guy in reality like is so depicted in this genre? There is always an element of suspended disbelief when watching a film of this genre, which is why I find it unbelievable that people are being so hard on this film. Are we expecting too much of Amy Schumer while simultaneously allowing political correctness to strangle her?

There are other characters who also suffer from self-esteem issues in the film. The boyfriend character does, as does one of the super-model-stunning acquaintance of the protagonist, highlighting that many of us to suffer from it at some point in our lives. While we all don’t live in a Hollywood movie, there is a lot of merit to the underlying message of this film, which has nothing to do with your body shape or how good looking you are, but more to do with how you perceive yourself as a person. It challenges the unhelpful way which we navigate through our lives, because if you don’t believe in yourself, then you make it harder for others to believe in you.

This film doesn’t profess to change the systematic issues of discrimination in our society at all, which is what many are expecting it to do. Comedian Bill Maher slammed the reviews on his show. “Can’t we just sit in a movie theater, un-clench our assholes for two hours, and laugh at what it is, instead of dissecting it for what it is not?” Maher asked. “Movie reviews, they’re not even reviews any more. They’re just, ‘How come you made the movie you made and not the one I would have made?” And it’s so true in this digital world. Reviewers have so much power and they can create so much hype it can actually stop people from seeing a film that they might actually benefit from seeing.

Together with ‘How to be single’, which were also the writers of ‘I feel pretty’, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, these two films have been my favourite in the genre of recent times simply because they challenge the notion of a romantic comedy and they have given power back to women. Rather than waiting for some guy to rescue them, the women are the master of their own destinies, and that, my friend, is what feminism is to me.

Tell it like it is: How political correctness strangled Amy Schumer2018-06-01T17:57:18+00:00

Tell it like it is: Is it more than creative energy that draws us to other creatives?

Last night, I attended the reunion show for local Melbourne band Trial Kennedy. The band, headed by Tim Morrison, who was on The Voice AU in 2013, broke up the year prior to this, amicably, after many years of touring and recording. On stage last night, guitarist Stacey Gray said they had their first gig together when they were just seventeen and that he was now thirty-eight.

When I first saw Trial Kennedy play at The Corner in Richmond, it would have been around 2009. I was around twenty-nine and it was my first ever live music gig. At the time, I was married and was living a life I was very unhappy with. A friend I was studying with at RMIT took me to the gig and I immediately connected to not only their music, but their creative energy. At the time, I was researching my first novel, and my mentor, Christos Tsiolkas, suggested I research bands some more as there is an Aussie rock band in my book. I remember that it felt like singer Tim Morrison was screaming out my rage for me. The creative energy was palpable and I was taking notes right there in front of them, my mind overflowing with possible scenes for my novel.

There were many factors at play that led to my emancipation, but the creative dynamic I shared with Trial Kennedy inspired my direction. My friend introduced me to Stacey and I told him how blown away I was and could I study them for my novel. Tim and particularly Stacey, were happy to be studied as a basis for the band in my novel, and there were several meetings where I asked them all about what it’s like being in a band. I also wrote poetry about them and even had a major crush on Stacey. When I finally left my marriage and my life was in turmoil, the boys handled the situation gentlemanly, and I went to many of their gigs and became a Trial Kennedy groupie!

Looking back now, ten years later, I think about how uncanny creative energy can sometimes be. Is it just our art that other artists can inspire, or is it more than that? It seems in this case their inspiration went beyond my art. They were like a door to a world I had been sheltered from because of my conservative upbringing. So in that way, they illuminated a path I was needing to walk down. Their art inspired not only my art but my life.

Even in other creative relationships I have had, it always comes down to the person and what they stand for. I have learnt from experience that if the person doesn’t like me as I am – flaws and all – it never works out. I sometimes get involved in dynamics where the person has more clout than me and I think it will help but it always makes things worse. You got to work with people who you think are amazing, both as people and creatives. Great art and successful creative relationships happen, I believe, when you really like the person and who they are because who they are matches up with who you are.

Me and Tim at the reunion gig last night

I had the most amazing time at the gig last night. Their music was just perfect. They sound so good live. I went with my friend who took me to the first gig and it was like re-living the night again with the benefit of ten years of wisdom and experience. It was mind-blowing! It is a shame they broke up because I have always believed they all have strong potential as musicians and I would love to hear more music from them. Tim and Stacey were happy to see me, and the boys are still really keen on my novel being published. They were encouraging and it was extremely beneficial watching them perform again at this point in time where I am finishing up with the manuscript for my debut novel, Divided Island and getting closer to being ready to submit to a publisher.

 

Tell it like it is: Is it more than creative energy that draws us to other creatives?2018-05-31T14:56:10+00:00

Tell it like it is: How the media has changed and why I have decided to re-open my blog

Prior to my career as an opinion writer / journalist in Australia, which began four years ago, I ran a successful poetic blog. My poems were political and a kind of social commentary and activism. But with this new demand for my opinion writing, I decided to close my blog’s doors. I was getting one to two articles published a week in major news sites, and so the need for my blog became redundant, because I was writing about topics I was passionate about.

But things have changed in the Australian news landscape – and across the world – and as readers of news, it’s important that you know how things have changed because it does affect you as a member of society.

Platforms such as Facebook and Google have sucked the advertising from news sites

Remember when Facebook was so simple, and you would post and all your friends could see it? Those days are gone. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook for college students to socialise but today it is a money-making machine appealing to advertisers. So instead of paying to get TV commercials and spreads in print and online news sites, they are advertising to you directly every time you log into Facebook. And same goes for Google. It collects information about you when you search and it stores that information and uses it to sell to you.

With less income from advertisers, news sites have had to cut content

Have you noticed that there is a lot more white space on the home page of news sites? This is possibly a way in which these sites hide that there are less articles on the home page as opposed to how many there were a few years ago. Editors have had their budgets cut so where writers like me were getting one to two articles published a week, this output has steadily declined over the last few years to now sit at around one a month.

There is even less diversity in opinion writing than there was four years ago

Many freelance writers have had to start looking for work elsewhere which means we are losing a lot of great writers. With so much competition to get articles published, diversity has fallen down the priority list as news sites scramble for survival. What this means however is that our media is more whitewashed than ever.

News sites take their content from American sites and package it as their own

Another way news sites have cut costs is that some of their content now comes directly from overseas news sites, usually from America. This is called syndication, and what it means is that rather than paying an Australian writer to write an opinion article, they pay an American news site a smaller fee to republish their article. Syndication can be identified by scrolling to the bottom of the article where you will see ‘LA Times’ for example but the article was published in an Australian news site. The flow on affect from this is that less Australian voices are being heard and our content is becoming more Americanised.

Advertising is seeping into articles

Have you noticed there are more prominent ads on the homepage of news sites? With the competition from Facebook and Google, news sites have to offer more to their clients so they can continue to have their business. This includes having larger ads or offering what is called branded content. This is where advertisers may have articles written for them, by journalists, for news sites. These are articles usually identified as ‘sponsored by’.

Extreme views and more followers are more appealing than quality journalism

One of the ways news sites sell to advertisers is by showing them statistics on how many views they get across their sites. So clicks are very important. But what this means is that more extreme political or social commentating will appeal to news sites, yet this kind of commentating might not be what is most helpful to make our society better. Some examples are Andrew Bolt and Clementine Ford or Trump! Writers with a large social media following are also going to appeal to news sites as they will promote the article to their followers. These big names can become the cash cows of news, but this puts those writers in an extremely powerful position.

Why content going behind the paywall is really bad for society’s evolution

With advertising revenue decreasing, news sites have had to resort to putting their content behind a paywall and charging readers a subscription fee. But readers will tend to subscribe to news sites they politically align with and they won’t have access to other sites with views different from their own. If the left cannot read the right and the right cannot read the left, how are we supposed to learn from each other and evolve?

News sites don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them

Our government funded news sites will err on the side of caution when they publish content about the government in the same way that a news site will think twice about publishing an article that might offend their major advertising clients. We have just seen major funding of $84 million slashed from the ABC which came after fierce criticism from the government of its reportage. News sites have been put in a difficult position where they must be more vigilant than ever in an effort to fight for survival.

Don’t piss your editor off or you won’t be writing for that publication

Writers have less power than ever over their work as they scramble to be published in a market which is at overcapacity. It is even harder for writers to speak up if they have been treated unfairly by an editor, or if they have seen injustices in the media, and if they do they can very quickly be faced with getting barred as there are many more writers out there who will do what they are told.

So why start my blog up again and how can you help

I am still very passionate about writing opinion articles for major news sites and will continue to pitch my ideas to them. However, as a writer, I need an alternative platform to publish views that I know will never get published in the media because there just isn’t the money for it. As a reader, being aware of the issues above is especially important. I hope to open up my blog to other writers in the future. Support your news sites and support alternative sites such as this one in the hope for a better future. Also rally governments to subside journalism, and particularly our public broadcasters SBS and ABC, as we need their impartial journalism more than ever.

Like what you just read? You can buy me a coffee to say thanks! Or become a patron!

 

Tell it like it is: How the media has changed and why I have decided to re-open my blog2018-05-31T14:54:46+00:00

What I learned from the Handmaid’s Tale

The thing is, I’m just really sad since watching it
I know it’s only a TV show, a story, but it’s not, not really
I don’t know what to say other than I feel feverishly shit
My only appeasement to huddle like the handmaids do
Together with all the women in the world so we can cry in chorus
Even though we don’t trust each other
Compete in whispers to trample through the funnel for air
I started watching the series The Handmaid’s Tale at 10pm one night
I was conscious of the time and school drop off in the morn
Being a single mum, can’t afford too many late nights
But as soon as I saw Offred and her forced foetal offering
Her world controlled by Gilead’s Christian fundamentalists
(not ISIS, that’s Islamic fundamentalists which is different)
Her screams swallowed and gagged on until nothing came out
I couldn’t move, my gaze super-glued to her plight
And I couldn’t leave her alone trapped inside the TV
To be fucked between the Father and the Mother and the Holy Fucking Spirit
So I made the decision to stay up all night until I saved her
In the morn I woke exhausted having had no sleep and failed my mission
I told myself it was just a story by my favourite writer and poet, Margaret Atwood
I hadn’t read the book yet, and I was cursing myself that I should have by now
Margaret wrote her story in the 80s
But is it really a story or a terrifying premonition?
Sometimes fiction is just a stone’s throw away from fact
Or maybe a rendition of something we pretend isn’t happening
Thirty years later it seems the same issues are lingering
Except feminism and capitalism have morphed into some deformed monster
Or maybe that has always been the case
Margaret’s tale had me thinking back to my first poetry class
How I asked my teacher about rules and she told me there are none
I didn’t consider her a feminist as she was old and grey
But I guess she was because she showed me pages of writing by feminists
It was Margaret’s and Sylvia’s and Patti’s poetry that resurrected me
Their words had me question the cultural, sexual and religious repression
I had inherited like a birth right spawned from patriarchy
Never had I considered I had choices
I married when I was only a baby
So in poetry class I took to the notebook with bound hands
Wrote till blood soaked my clothes and I was considered mad
Sex poetry came out of me until I was labelled a slut
I like to be fucked so to men and the literati I made sense
I fought so hard to be free even my tears became blood
Wiped with the tissues of women I had never met wanting to be my friend
But I didn’t realise till I watched the last episode of The Handmaid’s Tale
Which was seven years after my emancipation
That my hands are still bound
Bashed, shoved, murdered, controlled, fucked in every way possible
I still exist under the foot of a man
The palace of patriarchy still reigns
Did anyone actually ever ask us
If we actually want to fulfil our biological destinies
Under His fucking Eye?
Margaret’s metaphor opens us up to consider
Gilead could happen even today
All that’s needed is some crazy man
With sexist, religious, racist beliefs
That has access to chemical warfare and bombs
To execute a Handmaid’s order
And suddenly Gilead is just a stone’s throw away from now
However, what I learned from the Handmaid’s Tale
Apart from how fucked the world was for Margaret
That she resorted to write such a disturbing and traumatising tale
Is how fucked the world still is today
But despite this, even in the most repressive circumstances
Where speaking up is punishable by death
The controlling power will push forbidden and wicked ways underground
But human nature is to fight even silently, to rise
And I learned that the resilience of women
The gender that bares the world in her womb then births it
Bleeds her dirty sin though her uterus and out of her vagina
Will find a slow, but gradual way, to an almost freedom
I also learned that Canada is the best country in the world
Even in the land of fiction, in the past and in the now
Especially when it comes to treating refugees
And every other country is pretty shit
It probably came as a shock of course
When white people were watching The Handmaid’s Tale
That the refugees where westerners (unlike today)
So they were probably relieved when Canada handed them
A phone card, money, clothes, food etc
Rather than a big fuck off and go back to where you came from
I don’t know how Margaret came up with this story
But it had me crying like a scared child
Longing to slash my wrists in the bathtub

This was first published in Tuck Magazine

What I learned from the Handmaid’s Tale2018-05-21T09:55:56+00:00