Misogyny, Equality, Meh.

This week,  I had this conversation with a keyboard warrior hiding behind a fake name.  I find most of the judgemental types on twitter don’t use their name. Not all, but the chest beaters tend to.

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This mysterious person accused me of not doing anything to improve the lot of women,  and selfish because I choose to start in my own industry first.

I wasn’t offended as it’s very rarely anybody else’s own ‘known facts’ offend me. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

I know I do my part. As do thousands of other women involved in agriculture in Australia.  We do this by being the best we can be. Nothing more, nothing less.

What this exchange did make me do was make me think about my views on equality in the agricultural workplace.

I grew up with two sisters on a beef cattle place. We fenced, mustered, picked sticks up and did everything we could to help the farm run. We also cleaned, cooked , chopped the fire wood and helped keep the house running.  I have no reason to think had mum and dad had a boy, they would have been treated any different. 

It was quite a shock the first time I met full blown sexism. And I fought tooth and nail against it!
A little older and wiser, I’ve learnt the best way to end sexism is to realise you can’t change the thoughts of people,  just give them a reason to rethink their thoughts.

My first job was on a beef and sheep station in western NSW. The manager and overseer were men, as was the head stockman. The other jillaroo and I were the only other workers and no jobs were women or men’s work. We all did what our skills dictated.

I have also discovered, and this is rather controversial,  that what appears to be misogyny from the outside can actually be realism on the inside.

There are some jobs men are better designed for. Physiologically, emotionally and psychologically we are very different.

One job I’m very familiar with that all these differences really stand out is shearing. 

Women are generally more flexible than men. A sports remedial massage therapist I know explained to me what happens to footy players when they overdo the flexibility training.  They become highly prone to muscle and joint injury because it’s the mix of flexible and rigid that cushions impacts. Which is one of the main reasons, in their opinion, women’s contact sports have never been sustainable. Not the whole reason,  but it’s a pretty big limiting factor.

Men also naturally build upper body strength easier.

Which is why as a whole it’s men who shear. I know there are women that do, and I don’t have a problem with that. But men are better suited physiologically than women.

The job as shed hand is designed for women.  Women think differently to men, and attention to detail and the ability to be flexible mentally are great skills when trying to keep a busy board clean and tidy.

Classing, pressing and penning up I can’t see as skewed either way. Though the upper body strength of men is handy to have when pressing and when penning up stubborn sheep.

I’m finding the same in the dairy industry.

The number of times I’ve been told that women are better at calf rearing run into the thousands. It’s not a sexist thing. It’s that women are nurturers, tend to pick up on ill health quicker and are more likely to fight for the calf. A well known commercial calf rearer who does a bit of consulting on the side recommends employers hire a woman for the calf rearing, and target those who have children.

The general concencus is, women are better at the job. That isn’t sexism, it’s realism.

I’m not saying for one minute agriculture doesn’t have more than its fair share of fuddy duddys who believe in the ‘farmer’s wife’ who raises the kids, keeps the house and works the farm. A lot of rural boards are male heavy, with a few with no women at all.

And due to the nature of many agricultural jobs, pregnancy will stop a woman working for some time, taking the opportunity to advance their career away, for some, permanently.

I have zero experience in the corporate world, but I’m sure you could take what I’ve said, change a few job titles and descriptions, same results.

I will say though that the current feminist view of this situation, which is the same no matter what your chosen career path is not, in my view, constructive.

I find it abhorrent that quotas are being asked for let alone considered in political parties and commercial circles.

Women have always been a downtrodden group. We are over represented as victims in family and criminal court. Current Australian studies suggest one woman dies every day on average from a domestic violence assault. In the USA, it’s 3.5 women a day. Sexual violence is used in war zones and private homes world wide to control women and female children are sold into marriages even now. We are forgotten in history books and folklore.

To think a quota system will change these and all the other ways men control women cheapens the whole problem in my view.

For this to change, culture needs to change. And I think it is. Social media has opened the world to women from all circumstances and countries. It’s showing the world in real time what is happening to women and the call for action is getting louder. It’s a slow process, but with every new generation of women comes more freedom and opportunities. I nevertheless fear for the lives of girl children and women in those countries targeted by the likes of IS.

In the meantime, instead of focusing on equality and quotas, how about we focus on the skills and passion we have to offer our chosen industries.

Women need to do what they can to be noticed in the workplace or industry, and men should see potential as it presents itself. It’s kind of up to men to lead this charge, because they hold the majority of leadership roles. But as a woman, if you have a goal, you need to make connections and get some skills and experience to help you present a good case too. It often means you need to do twice as much as your male colleagues, and the challenge shouldn’t be taken lightly. I know many women who’ve been chewed up and spat out of the testosterone filled environment of their chosen career.

But don’t let any of that put you off. The more women who try, the more the barriers come down. The only failure is an ambition not given the light of day.

A friend and mentor said to me recently, don’t let your perceived lack of skill and experience stop you chasing your goal, sometimes it’s good to bite off more than you can chew, then chew like crazy! But you may need a street parade and a marching band to get noticed and a chance at that first bite.

Don’t be frightened to apply for that position because you or anybody else thinks you don’t have what it takes. Nobody ever goes into a job knowing everything.

I think we should stop focusing on equality and start ensuring the women in every workplace receive to training and mentoring required for the top jobs. Put the focus squarely on skills and recognition of talent rather than gender. And more family friendly work environments wouldn’t go astray either. The most important job of any parent’s life, that’s dads too, is to raise the next generation. Women are generally (again, not always) tasked with this as their jobs are likely to be the lower paid one, and of course, tradition.

We should also stop trying to make those men who do legitimately succeed feel guilty for all their hard work. That’s just not fair.

Am I selfish as my mysterious heckler suggests? I don’t think so.

There will always be more women tending crops and livestock than will ever be CEO’s.
They’re the ones who are truly underpaid and undervalued.
You get that right, the whole world will change.

Smoking – Too Long For A Facebook Rant

 

 

Smokers

 

This statement has been doing the rounds on Facebook for a while. After a comment from a friend this morning, I’ve decided a rant is in order.

I posted this response.

I detest this thing. Basically, its having a go at those who choose not to poison not only our bodies but those of everyone else around us. And yes, I agree. Maybe gruesome pictures should be put on fast food as well as chocolate, chips and fizzy drink, and maybe car crash, brawls and domestic violence warnings on alcohol.
Stop perpetuating this bs.
End of rant.

 

This was her response.
This is because your not a smoker!
I think the pictures are funny! I don’t really by my smokes to look at the packaging….
Each to there own
Ok. I am not a smoker. I dabbled for a while but I am asthmatic, so that was never going to work!
I try very hard to stay fit, eat healthy and my days of drinking are basically over.
Saying that McDonald’s should have obese kids on the wrapping is ok.
Even saying alcohol bottles should have car crash pictures on the labels is warranted I guess!
Smoking is the number one cause of death in Australia. The financial cost in Australia in 2004-05 – smokers and non smokers – was $670 million. 14,900 people died from smoking related disease in the same years. That’s $44,966 per person who died.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer in Australia, mostly caused by smoking.
Obesity is a rising problem, with 62.8% of Australian adults now considered overweight. In 2005,  obesity cost Australians a massive $21 billion in direct health care costs. $21 billion. The government of that time paid an extra $36.5 billion in subsidies related to obesity. That’s $57.5 billion.
The rate seems to be falling. 60% of us were obese in 2012. There doesn’t seem to be any financials available for that time though.
There were 1,193 deaths on Australian roads in 2012, and cost us on average $2.8 billion per year. Alcohol is attributed to about 1/3 of all road deaths – driver and pedestrian. A very interesting read about the social costs of alcohol on our society can be found here.
The new Liberal/National government of Australia is looking for cost savings and are being accused of going after the medical system. People are asking why. I think $79.97 billion is a pretty good reason!
Imagine what could be done with even half of that!
So why not put labels on fast food and alcohol? Remember, these are my opinions only.
Obesity is less about fast food and more about portion distortion. So if we are going to put a picture of an obese child on a happy meal box, then we need to put the same thing on steak. And if we are going to do that, why not sell all food in approved serving size portions only. One serve of dairy is the equivalent of one metric cup of milk. Why not sell milk in cup sizes only? A great portion size guide can be found here.
Not all alcohol related deaths are road crashes. It is widely known that alcohol is one of the main causes of trauma in areas where drinking is the thing to do. Take Kings Cross in Sydney for example. My honest opinion is drinking is a cultural aspect of being Aussie and that needs to change before we can stop the deaths and violence.
So why does this statement on smoking annoy me badly enough to find out all this information instead of the hundreds of other things I should be doing.
People who smoke generally don’t have just one occasionally. They smoke daily. And if they smoke, their death is highly likely to be from smoking. They do risk all the cancers and other diseases shown on the boxes.
I can have a glass of wine occasionally and I am partial to Maccas breaky but I don’t have it every day. It’s not that likely that I will die or suffer any long-term health issues as a direct result of either.
That’s why the those lovely pictures need to be on the cigarette packaging.
To me, this statement is an excuse. And I don’t like excuses. Smoke if you want to, but realise what you are doing not only to you but those around you.
Second hand smoke can harm people too. It caused myself and my sisters to have lung and throat issues. We are all asthmatic to varying degrees. We all have issues with tonsillitis and bronchitis every year at least once, with the exception of the sister who had such bad issues with her tonsils, her doctor had them removed.
It causes SIDS in babies, and can harm the unborn child even if the mother isn’t a smoker.
Why should I have to leave any building through a cloud of toxic smoke, with or without my kids? Why should I have to sit in my car with the vents shut because five people decide to stop next to my car and smoke? Why should I feel guilty having to ask them to move on before I got my kids out of that car? Why should I be having a nice meal with friends only to have a waft of smoke interrupt it?
And it stinks.
Face it smokers, you interrupt the day-to-day lives of people who don’t want to die a slow and painful death. It’s not a judgment, it’s a fact. It’s your choice to smoke, don’t take it out on everyone else.
And yes, alcohol ruins not just the life of the drinker but also those around them. But you are not allowed to wander the streets intoxicated any more, so drunk people can in most instances be avoided. And someone can be sitting at a table near me drinking without causing me any harm.
I can spend all day every day with an obese person without suffering any health issues at all.
The age of entitlement is ending. Responsibility for your own actions is now becoming the norm.
How you act, what you say, what you do, how you choose to live your life can have implications on the lives of others.
I feel its time smokers realised this.
Now I can honestly say
*****END OF RANT*****

 

Daily Prompt – Object Lesson

Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

That’s easy – my phone! The very piece of technology I’m using to answer this question!

My phone is my lifeline to the outside world.

Farming and particularly dairy farming can be isolating. A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day “Dairy farming – ruining social lives since forever!”

The long hours and the need to be there 24/7/365 puts a dampener on most outings. Just as you settle in you need to go home to milk. By the time you’re done you’re too tired to bother and you know you have to get up in the morning and do it all again.

So my social life is really social media!

I discovered Facebook a long time after my friends did. I’m still not convinced, but it has its place.

Twitter has been my true savior! I have found kindred spirits there I would never have known existed. There’s a different type of person on Twitter, but how and why I can’t tell you. It suits my because I think that’s how I talk. 140 characters, straight to the point.

Twitter is where I’ve learnt about dairy farms in different parts of Australia and the world, discovered activism and most importantly found out what a blog was!

Its where I found my ‘home’.

Its the place that I can go for a serious conversation about the goings on in the world or find some bubblegum for my mind.

I have met some of the people I ‘know’ on Twitter. The most extraordinary thing is its like we’ve known each other for years. Its something I’ve written about before.

I do talk to people I know! I text a lot. By a lot I mean A LOT! Its how I and my busy friends get our information out in a way that doesn’t impose. I can ask a question, make a statement, invite or just update in a way that doesn’t stop my friends from doing whatever it might be they’re doing. They can answer when they’re ready. Also gives people time to think before they answer. 

I do make or take the odd actual voice call too!

Without my phone I’d be lost!

Daily Prompt – Long Exposure

Among the people you’ve known for a long time, who is the person who’s changed the most over the years? Was the change for the better?

I went to an agriculture college after finishing high school. There’s a saying that goes “It takes all types to make up the world” and I’m pretty sure they were all there!

One of the first people I met was Adair.

She had a friendly face, gentle kind eyes, and a welcoming smile.

And she was a little odd.

We were immediate and firm friends.

Adair was from a life of privilege, though you’d never pick it.  Her parents doted on her, she longed for nothing.

Adair was at ag college to learn about farming so she could run the farm daddy had purchased. By farm I mean under 100 acres in the hills behind the Central Coast of NSW.

From the start, Adair had a different view about animal production for food. She was already vegetarian, and would go vegan later in life.

Adair never said ‘I don’t want to know’. She wanted to know everything. Even when the lesson included some distress to the animal, she was there. She did question the why’s and what ifs, but I thought that was great. I had always struggled with castrating male animals, cutting lambs tails off and intensive pig and chicken farms. It was nice to have someone with the same ideas.

But you could explain the reasons behind these practices, and in most cases she’d accept it.

We would do a lot of very strange things together.

One of our favorite things to do was go into town after dairy duty in two day old dairy clothes.

Another was to put her mums maternity dresses on with our work boots or better still rubber boots and go to the pub.

We were always there for each other. She defended my mood swings, I defended her views and vegetarianism.

After college, she went back to the farm and basically isolated herself. She did have a few friends, most of them living an ‘alternative’ lifestyle. I did keep in touch for a while, but my work made it near impossible.  This was the time before mobile phones.

A lot of years later I found her on Facebook.  I was so excited to find her. Of all the people I’d met in my life, Adair had been one of the few to encourage my eccentricities. I needed that acceptance again.

The first thing I noticed was she’d become an animal rights activist. In my naivety I thought it was great, and wondered how I could get on board.

It wasn’t long, after reading her posts, I figured out not only did I  not want to be involved, I wouldn’t be accepted anyway.

We continued an uneasy friendship for a while. I asked her to clarify some activist positions. She tried to tell me my chosen career was terrible. But we still got on.

Until one day.

She posted an absolute lie. She said drinking milk causes arthritis and brittle bones. I stated that of all the health issues the elderly  dairy farmers I know have, they weren’t among them.

That was it for her. She followed the usual activist line and told me I’m a cow rapist and I force my cows to be pregnant for financial gain, that I rip baby calves off their mothers and murder the boys, and that I personified everything wrong with the world and I should hang my head in shame.

The Adair I remembered with an open, questioning mind and morals, not that much different from me, had turned into a hate mongering member of an agroterrorist organisation hell bent on stopping the use of animals for food production.

I was devastated. Absolutely devastated.

I cried and cried.

It was like she had died.

I knew we’d never talk again.

I knew I’d  never see her again.

That was about 12 months ago. I still have days…

Adair is the person who’s changed the most. And I miss the old Adair dearly.

Propraganda and How It (Doesn’t Always) Work

The news was broken by PETA yesterday of the abject cruelty endemic in the shearing sheds of Australia.

It came with a video complete with an official sounding voice and emotional music.

Why is a dairy farmer having a rant about this?

I am against the mistreatment of all animals.

And I worked in the industry for about 10 years. So I do have some experience. But that’s a blog for another day.

I have seen the behavior depicted in this video, but I didn’t stand back and watch. I had a shearer sacked for treating sheep like that. I made enough noise in two other situations for the overseer and the grower to see what was happening and moved those horrid excuses for human beings on. I walked away from what would have been a lucrative job as a contractor allowed this sort of abuse to occur because the shearer was a ‘gun’ (lots of sheep shorn in a day) and even moved 800km’s away just to find a new team after basically being blacklisted where I was for it. All in all, I probably saw seven shearers act with such contempt for another living creature. They don’t get a lot of work.

Here is the video. Watch with an open but curious mind…

So here are a few of the problems I have with this video.

Firstly, why (again!) was the footage held for 12 months without prosecution of the shearers involved? This is something we see regularly from so called animal welfare advocates.

Some of the filming was obviously done with the full knowledge of the person being filmed. This can mean a few things. It could be a set up. It could be a mate filming a mate and that video has been used inappropriately.

A question that has been bubbling in the back of my mind is who has a hammer on their stand and why? Its not a normal part of a shearers kit.

Not surprisingly, some of the images were taken out of context.

The sewing up of a sheep is something that needs to be done from time to time. It has little to do with the per sheep payment system as reported by PETA. The reason a sheep ends up with a cut like that are varied but rarely does it lead to the death of the sheep. And no, pain relief is not used. PETA again are using emotion without facts. They are comparing human skin to that of an animal that has evolved to have less nerve endings in areas prone to damage.

There is also footage of a shearer with his foot on the sheep’s neck. To me it doesn’t look like much downward pressure is being used. Experience tells me its being held still so the sheep doesn’t kick and then need to be sewn up.

And lastly, who installed the cameras and was it done with full knowledge of the owners of the sheds involved.

If these groups had there way, every livestock enterprise in Australia would be under constant video surveillance with open to the public feeds over the internet. Nothing should be hidden in their view.

Agroterrorism is being used in this country by these groups to obtain footage they can then cut and paste to suit their own agenda. This is what I believe has happened here. Imagine what they would do with live feeds.

This picture was on the Weekly Times report about the video. I feel I should comment on this picture. Its out there for all the world to see. I have no idea where this picture came from but it doesn’t help anyone but PETA.

Or does it?

It shows a sheep with some blood. I do feel bad for this sheep. But looking at the picture I notice the sheep isn’t very cleanly shorn. There’s wool left on the rump. This indicates the shearer was probably a learner.

But the more interesting thing I notice is, except a tiny patch on the bottom left, the lack of blood on the fleece.

Could be a lucky shot… make your own assumptions.

Source: PETA

I am also guessing you have more question. And you should! All of the material shown by ARA’s needs to be dissected and any cruelty that we can stop needs to be stopped!

But if you want information from people who know and understand, ask a farmer! They are the people with the hands on experience in animal welfare.

There are lots of farmers from all over the world to be found on Facebook and Twitter and most are more than willing to let you in on the workings of their enterprise.

Feel free to leave questions and comments. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll probably know someone who will.

Thanks for reading.

Unexpected Pleasures

Last night, while talking to a person I am proud to call friend, she told me I’m the most sociable loner she knows. I replied I didn’t have a real friend until I moved to Coopernook. That made her laugh a lot – its a location joke…

But that’s beside the point really!

It made me think about why I’d made it to my 35th birthday without discovering the pleasure of true human connection.

The BPD I’ve spoken of before was one reason.  I had always been a loner! 

About a week after arriving in Coopernook to start our first dairy operation together, the P&C uniform lady rang me.  She’d heard I had a child to start at the small school and wanted to let me know what I needed and what she had as new and second hand uniforms. She seemed rather nice. A little forward, maybe nosey, but nice!

There was no bus for Coopy school so the parents made their way to the front gate every afternoon to pick their children up.  Everyone knew everyone and had their groups.  I sat in the car and read.

Until one day the uniform lady came and tapped on my window and told me she couldn’t watch me sit on my own anymore and no matter what I said about enjoying my reading time she would bug me till I socialised a bit!

As you can well imagine, I had no idea how to handle this!  So I went home and asked my social butterfly husband who suggested it wouldn’t hurt me to actually talk to people.

The rest, as they say, is history!

Her and I will be friends till the day we die, and know we have each others back!

I met four other awesome women in Coopy, and seeing them always makes my heart sing!

So, how does this relate to my current need to show what I love about my dairy life?

The people.

It takes a special kind of person to be a dairy farmer, and it takes a special kind of person to be true friends with a dairy farmer! 

To paraphrase something I read on Facebook, dairy farming – ruining weekends and social plans since forever!

A lot of the people I have come in contact with since we started milking cows around here have become good friends.  Mostly because hubby is like that I guess!

And no matter what our perception of the the publics perception, they do appreciate what happens to create the dairy products they love – if we show them.  My time at Coopernook showed that to me.

And if it hadn’t been for our desire to leave the situation we were in and try to make a dairy life for ourselves, I would be totally unaware how awesome having true friendships really are!

So here’s to the unexpected pleasures that come with milking cows!

No Toilet Paper. Goodbye Socks!

Today, quite by accident, I performed a little social experiment.
In the last week or so, I have posted and shared a few what I consider interesting links on my Facebook page.
These are some of them;

Animal Welfare: A Wyndham Station Perspective

An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow

EXCLUSIVE: The Danger Of Outrageous Outrage

Live-Ex Comes Home To Roost

All very interesting and informative reads that, in my opinion, everyone should read.  I had three “likes” and two comments for all of those articles.

Today I was having a rare read of my Facebook feed when I came across this doozy from an old friend I shall call Spud – because that’s what we called him at Tocal.

No toilet paper. goodbye socks !!
  • You and 5 others like this.
  • Alison Germon
    Write a comment…
    Of course I “like”ed it! It sounded very Spud-like!
    It was a trick. Within seconds I received this via chat….
    You’re in trouble! Lol! A friend did this to me, its a game. You shouldnt have liked or commented on my status. Choose one of the following:
    1. Damn diarrohea!
    2. Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket.
    3. Anyone got tampons? Im desperate.
    4. How do you get rid of foot fungus?
    5. Why is it no one is around5. Why is it no one is around when Im horny?
    6. No toilet paper. Goodbye socks!!
    7. Is it too early for a whiskey?
    8. What a day, can’t wait till my husband gets home!
    9. I just feel like running naked in the garden.
    10. Does liver and peanut butter make a good sandwich filling?
    Dont explain on the status, just send this message. Your turn!
    I looked at the list for a while and decided on 2.

    Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket….
    Like · · Promote · Share
    It was the most plausible post there. 9 was tempting and had it been raining I would probably have put that one on.
    As I write this, 17 people have clicked “like” and nine have commented.
    I haven’t shared the fact I blog with my Facebook world – too many of them know hubby and I’m not ready for him to know.  But I am tempted!
    Maybe this is what we need to do to promote farming – make it low and degrading. I doubt it.
    We Australian farmers have a lot to be proud of. We are the cleanest food producers in the world.  We are at the forefront of animal welfare standards.  We feed and clothe everyone in Australia and millions of people world wide.
    Why is it then I am taken more seriously when I post something about my boobs and nobody listens when I  share the stories of our lives?
    This is another reason I haven’t bothered sharing my inner most secrets with Facebook.
    But it does beg the question – if my boobs and those of others are so damn interesting, why are more people not interested in what’s happening in the  dairy industry?