Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden


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Motherhood – Societies pressure to become a mother

Let’s talk about motherhood! I know – me, not a mother, speaking about motherhood. What am I thinking?! Hear me out. I want to talk about motherhood and why women feel a societal pressure to become mothers.

Ever since we are little we are told we are to grow up and become mothers. Heck, most of girls toys are targeted to being a mother. From a young age we are programmed to believe it is our destiny to become a mother and to have children. But it’s a lie. I would say that very few people are truly meant for motherhood. Just because you have maternal instincts if doesn’t necessarily mean you should be a mother. You have to have passion and drive and be committed to this child – that tiny human – that you bring into this world and depends on you. You cannot half ass it. Motherhood is not a “maybe” or a “why not” situation. It’s all or nothing. You owe it to that child.

I’ve always been really good with kids. Ever since I was little, children gravitated to me and I to them. I think it’s because I’m still a five year old at heart. I have very good maternal instincts I think, and being good with children one could assume I am going to become a mother. The truth is I most likely won’t. I’m still very 50/50, up in the air about it and I refuse to bring a child into my life when I am not fully committed to raising them and being their parent. Just because I’m good with kids and very maternal it does not mean I’m going to be a mother – not unless I’m all in.

If you are not fully committed to being a mother then how else are you going to survive when your two year old is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the store and 80 people are staring? How are you going to survive the tears when they can’t communicate what’s wrong? These are rhetorical questions because I know exactly how you will react. You see it on the TV – child abuse and neglect. These are mothers that believed they had to bring children into this world even though they weren’t committed entirely to the idea. Children are frustrating, they are hair pulling worthy, but they ultimately don’t mean to be. They are still learning. As a mother you have to know this and have patience and when you aren’t all in, crying and screaming and frustration are hard to survive.

But what are the true effects of semi-commitment? Surely they’re just minor…well they aren’t. It can lead to mental illness in children that can carry on to adolescent and adulthood. A half-assed parent can create attachment issues and inability to form proper relationships. It can create a loneliness of being unwanted, of not feeling like they are their mothers whole heart. It is not fair for you to bring a child into this world and leave them with these fears and feelings. Half-assing motherhood can create a whole different life path for children – a path that can have devastating effects.

At the end of the day it’s very simple. Don’t have kids unless you are a hundred percent sure you want them. Unless you know that you will give everything to them. Even on the days where you might not want to. Don’t do it just because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do. It’s not fair on the children you will bring into this world to have a mother only half invested. These children come into this world and they never asked to be brought here – you did that. You have to follow through and be totally willing to raise that child. That’s the commitment you made when you became a mother – that you would love this child 100% without fail – even when they say you smell and tell you that you cut their food wrong. It’s all or nothing.

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Pro-Choice /= Pro-Abortion

It’s 2017, why is this even a blog post I am writing? This debate has been going on for decades and it’s the most ridiculous thing to exist. How I got to be so understanding and have the compassion that “pro-lifers” seem to lack is beyond me, but here we are.

I’m not pro-abortion. I believe you have the right to make decisions based on your own beliefs and ideals. By keeping abortion illegal and by making it a criminal offense, you are taking away other people’s right to make decisions based off their beliefs and ideals. You are taking away the same right you have – to choose not to have an abortion – from another person. My belief is that if you do not want the pregnancy, you can terminate it. Say you fall pregnant and maybe you don’t want it but you’re against abortion so you have it anyway – I could realistically come in and say well no, you have to have an abortion. My belief is that people should be able to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Does it sound completely unfair and definitely unjust? Welcome to compassion and understanding.

Religion. This is a huge part of why abortion is illegal. Church should not find itself in the Government. It is a separate entity and should be treated as such. How come other religions don’t get to be included in the Government? What makes Christians so special? I believe in God. And I also believe that other people deserve the right to choose. I choose to believe in God, I choose to do these things. Why shouldn’t others get that same opportunity? Why should I be any different and special so as to be the only one who gets to make a choice? My God does not care if you kill some cells. He has a soul up in heaven waiting for you and if He cannot bring it to you through your own body He will find a way. After all he is a miracle worker. If when my times comes, and I’m called before God and He tells me that He did in fact oppose abortion, I know I would still be welcomed into His kingdom because it was not my place to pass judgement. It was not my place to force another of His children into my beliefs.

Being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-abortion and I’m willing to bet there is no one pro-abortion. People have somehow confused the two and begun to see pro-choice as if it were pro-abortion. What I am asking for – and what every other sane human being is  asking and promoting – is the right for people to have the choice.

Scenario I – My friend and I walk into an ice cream shop. My friend picks chocolate flavour, but I don’t like that flavour. I tell her no. She has to have vanilla. Here I am telling my friend that she cannot have chocolate ice cream for no reason other than because I don’t like it. Am I going to be eating her ice cream? No. Am I going to even be affected by her chocolate ice cream? No. Is the person behind the counter going to be affected by her choice? No. Do you see what is happening here?

Scenario II – My friend and I walk into a pet store, she’s looking for a dog. I don’t like dogs (I do, but for the sake of the scenario I don’t) and so I tell her that I don’t like dogs. She tells me “okay, don’t buy a dog.” I don’t buy a dog. When she gets to the counter to pay I say nothing and I walk out with her. Was this wrong? Yes. Why? Because I forgot to remind her to get dog food. Other than the lack of nutrition, there is no reason why my friend cannot buy herself a dog if she wants one. It’s her choice. Regardless of my opinion on the matter, she can choose to buy a dog if she wants because she’s allowed to make her own decisions. Remember how they tell you that about 100 times in primary school? It doesn’t change…or it shouldn’t.

I am not promoting abortions, I am not pro-abortion. I am human and I realise that people who fall pregnant and don’t want to be/cannot be are going to find a way to terminate that foetus. I would rather they have the option of it being done safely by a professional. No one wants an abortion. Not like you want an ice cream truck or a bouncy castle. You want an abortion the way you want to get a filling done. You don’t (unless you have a filling procedure fetish?) want to do it but you have to before it gets worse.

One more time for the people in the back – pro-choice /= pro-abortion.


If you live in NZ – or are just a good human being and understand that everyone has the right to choose – please sign this petition to get abortions decriminalised in New Zealand. At present, although you can get an abortion, it is still classed as a crime to have an abortion. It’s got to change.

>SIGN THIS PETITION<


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Old vs. New: Why Raising the Retirement Age Shouldn’t Be A Topic…

If you’re even remotely up-to-date with New Zealand news, you’ll know there has been talk about raising the superannuation age. It currently sits at 65, but one party wants to raise it to 67 by 2040.

National leader Bill English confirmed on that if National were to be re-elected they would indeed raise the superannuation age to 67. Other leaders have come out in opposition and said they would not raise the age above the already standing 65 years.

Why is it a bad idea to raise the retirement age? Shouldn’t we promote continued working among those healthy enough to do so? Yes we should. We already do. The superannuation is available to those 65+, meaning those that are healthy and willing to work past 65 years can. But that those who are in pain, worn out, or just don’t want to work into their old age can retire. Raising the age would mean that people are staying in their jobs. We already have an issue with youth unemployment, mostly due to lack of job opportunities. If we don’t take out what we are putting in (i.e, we add workers without any leaving) then we end up with no job openings for those entering the fields. A reason our youth find it so hard to get a job is because their are no openings because the older generations are having to work longer to meet requirements of the superannuation. The reason Bill English doesn’t see this as an issue is because he believes youth are high on the job drug users unable to pass drug tests. He claims the youth are druggies at fault for the unemployment rates. He refuses to acknowledge that the elderly having to wait longer (67 years) to be eligible for the superannuation will have hazardous effects on the youth employment.

Yes our average life span is increasing, but he’s forgetting that the youth are what see the life increase. If we can’t provide New Zealand youth with steady employment, how are they meant to pay for groceries? How are they meant to afford medications they need to stay healthy? While our life span may be the highest it’s been, it can fall too. It’s not ever a set-in-stone age. If we don’t nurture and protect our youth then they won’t be around as long as today’s generation. We have children in poverty – New Zealand is notorious for it’s high poverty among first world countries. We have taken care of our elderly, we need to begin to take care of our children. Raising the superannuation age will not benefit our children and youth at all – in fact it will hinder them most. No longer will their grandparents be able to look after them and spent time with the kids, they will be too busy having to work. Kids won’t be able to spend an afternoon at Nan’s because she’ll be in the office.

Bill English (and National) are very much like my parents – they believe that the youth are lazy and the reason they don’t get a job or can’t buy a house is because they’re too lazy. Forgetting that they did not have to pay for tertiary study. Forgetting that they did not have the housing market of 2017…a house that would have cost them 350,000$ in 1999, will now cost anywhere upwards of 500,000$. They live in a very bubble world where everything is exactly how it was back then. I get that they worked hard and have done enough, but what on earth does raising the superannuation have to do with them working hard? If that was your argument wouldn’t you want to lower it? Let them have more time relaxing in retirement?

Give our youth  the employment opportunities you’re so ready to give to the elderly. They have had a good run, a long run. Pretend, for a moment, you give a damn about our children and their futures.


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We Are All Immigrants.

On the 27th of January, american president Trump made a law that refused entry to the United States from seven countries if they were not 100% american residents. The law was created as part of his attempts to stop immigrants from coming into America. It resulted in many people that had been citizens of America being denied entry back into the states.

The law was a direct attack on the Muslim faith and those that are Muslim. All seven countries have Muslim as it’s predominant religion. The idea is that stopping immigrants, specifically Muslims, will decrease the amount of terrorist attacks within the United States. What it does not take into account is that no terrorist attacks have been made by Muslim people. All seven countries that are denied entry have never killed ANY american citizens.

The idea that he can only keep certain religions out is very dictatorial. And what makes Muslim’s the target for this ban? Who got to decide that? Why not Christians? Do you know how many Christians have killed american citizens? A lot. Dylan Roof – a mass murderer and perpetrator of the Charleston shooting – was a “devout christian”. Jim David Adkisson was a christian too, he shot at innocent children. Timothy McVeigh, the notorious Oklahoma City bomber, was a christian. And yet a Muslim has never killed any american citizens…

I am devastated by the idea that the president believes he can dictate what religion is good and what religion is bad when he is denying the fact that his own religion is “worse” in terms of killings. I am devastated by the fact that many people were held up in airports for hours on end and refused entry back to the place they call home. Where their children and husband live, where their life is. My heart breaks for those that were put into that position for no reason other than pure hatred and greed of power.

But the real message of this is not my pain and anger over a certain man. It is to remind us all that we are all immigrants. We have all come and sought refuge or home in another country that was not ours. I am an immigrant. I am a European living in a Maori country. My people (Europeans) migrated to New Zealand from Europe. That makes me an immigrant in my own homeland. Humble yourself. Realise that everyone has migrated from somewhere else. We are all immigrants. It’s what makes our countries so great. It’s what allows cultures to adapt, and people to be more diverse. It’s important. Immigrants are important.

Please, it’s so important that you show love and appreciation to these people that are targeted by the new president. It’s beyond important. They have seen enough hate and felt enough pain. Show them that the world is not all bad, that there is still some good left. Don’t let hate win. Be the light in the dark. Love one another and be kind to your neighbour. It really is that simple, but we forget. We forget how easy it is to say “hey look man, I am proud you practice your religion even when you have every reason to be discouraged.” We don’t say enough the kind thoughts we think. So do it. If you think something nice, say it. Even if you think it sounds silly, or cheesy, or boring – it matters. It may be the only good thing they hear that day. Be kind and spread love not hate.

 


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It’s Not Okay.

20th January…the third Friday of the year…the most horrific of them all (and we had a Friday 13th already).

It is the day supposed President elect Donalda Trumpet gets sworn in. We watch as Barack Obama has to leave the oval office for the last time. Our hope of pushing forward is leaving with him.

To those that are scared sh*tless, I understand. I’m scared and I live on the other side of the world. I’m terrified for you. I’m terrified for the immigrants that face the fear of being deported back to a land that is destroyed. I’m terrified for the blacks, Latinos, and other coloured groups that will face racism beyond anything we’ve seen.

When you elect a tyrant, a mean and racist man, you allow hate to prevail. People voted for him with the prayer that they would be able to hate on specific groups of people. That’s what’s horrible about this election. We have seen how many people hate minority groups. We have been shown that the citizens of U.S do not care for disabled people. What should have been the end of his campaign was nothing but a stepping stone. We have seen that the citizens of the U.S do not care for woman – wanting to destroy their rights, the people of colour – being called rapists and other horrid unjustifiable things, and the LQBTQ+ community. Hate won out this election and it’s not okay.

Many voted because he promised to send the immigrants back to other countries. He promised job opportunities that will not exist. Immigrants are not stealing your jobs. We are stealing them from ourselves. We have created an excess of technology that complete the job at a lower cost – forcing many people out of jobs. There was no ONE group to blame. People wanted an answer, even if it was wrong. And Trumpet provided one. Remind you of another time in history?

It is an eerily similar election to that of Hitler. There is nothing that will compare to the holocaust, but this election is headed there. Fortunately with technology and the worlds ability to be aware of the situation in America, I predict Trumpet will not get far in the likes of Hitler’s regime. Other countries will force America to rethink their elected presidential choices. But the fact that we are in this place yet again proves that we are facing hard times ahead.

Sexual assault victims/survivors must watch a man known to think woman are his entitlement and a man with multiple assault claims under his name, woman are forced to watch him for four years. It’s not okay. I weep for these woman (and men) that have been through this and now have to watch a man known for sexual assault change their rights. They have to live with the knowledge that those that voted for him don’t care about woman (and men) being attacked. And they shouldn’t have to. None of this election is okay.

To anyone in the U.S, these next four years are about surviving. About making it through. Do not fear if progress is not made – if it is then what an accomplishment! But progress most likely will not happen in these next four years. You may see rights we’ve fought for be taken away. I want to say it’s okay, but it’s not. It sucks. But you will make it through. You have to. There is a fight on the other side of these four years that we need you for. There is a revolution growing and you are going to be apart of it.

If you need to remove religious items for the safety of your own life, your God will understand. It does not mean you believe any less, it does not make you a sinner or a pariah among your faith. This world is far worse than any God would have ever imagined it to get and people have deterred further from humanity. It is about keeping you safe and alive so that in four years from now – or earlier! – you are here to fight.

To those woman, men, and children that are taking to the citities around them in protest, bless you. You are the strength that so many of us are pulling from. I know many people felt alone after the news, seeing the solidarity proves no one is alone. Thank you.

It is okay to be upset. For all those saying “it’s just an election, you don’t need to cry” well aren’t they lucky? They don’t have to face the fear of losing their family, they don’t have to face the fear of having their medical insurance destroyed, they don’t have to face the fear of walking down the street terrified for their life. They are lucky. But they are wrong. It is not just an election, it is not just a loss of a vote. It is a hateful man being put in a place of power that can (and will) destroy minorities out of pure hatred. Nothing more. And it’s not okay.


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Hardships /= privilege

Following a YouTube video I watched, I have lost a little more faith in humanity. Reading through the comments I was so happy to see so many people were aware that going through a hard time and struggling with trauma is not the same as privilege. And it’s not.

It’s one thing to struggle with hard things in life – the person in the video surely has had a hard life and it’s important to acknowledge that. But to deny that privilege exists is a little immature. People will always be handed things, or given them easier because of things like their skin colour, their abilities, their religion, their gender, their sexual orientation, etc. My fight as a woman is a lot harder than a man’s. As an able bodied person I have an upper hand in the world. I’m white, I have the privilege of walking down the street with my hands in my pocket and not be shot at because I’m a “threat” and was hiding a possible weapon…As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I struggle against society and the privilege of straight people. I have more obstacles to face than someone who is straight, and that’s a fact.

Be as positive as you want, be as much of a go getter as you can be, but at some point you will have to admit that privilege exists. You can’t be a go getter when you’re dead. And many people are beaten to death or down right executed because of their lack of privilege. It has nothing to do with what hardships they’ve been through. Do you think the person on the other end of that gun or those fists gives a damn if they had a hard upbringing or if they went through a hard time? No. They only care that they are black, that they are a woman, that they are gay, that they are disabled. They don’t care about your hardships. They care about your privilege – or lack thereof.

I myself have been through hard times, I will bounce back from those. But I will continue – until the day I die – face the disadvantage of certain areas of my privilege and non-privilege. It will always be a fight. No matter how many positive quotes I tell myself, no matter how many well I bounce back, my privilege will always be at either an advantage or disadvantage.

Denying privilege exists is part of the problem. As someone on the YouTube platform it’s important to educate yourself and not be ignorant about things. Going through a hard time is not the same as being discriminated against for differences. It just isn’t. Privilege exists and it’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to say “hey look I do get it easier than a gay person”, “I do get it easier than a black person,” – It’s okay to admit that, in fact it’s important. It has nothing to do with how you were raised, what trials you went through. Privilege exists within society and it will always be an advantage or disadvantage depending on what side you are on. It’s ignorant and immature to assume otherwise.


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Why I Will Never Be As Happy As I Was When I Was A Kid…

That’s not to say I won’t have happy years ahead, in fact I see many happy years when I am older and settling down maybe with a family, maybe on my own. But my happiest, peak of it all, purest moments are gone. I look at photos of my childhood and I see a child so in love with the world. A child that holds trust in the world and believes that good people exist and bad people are just made up in the stories read to me. By about age seven I had seen and heard of enough bad things to know that the world could be kind, but the people were not.

img_0965I was always a quizzical child – questions being asked by my peers now, I posed as a child. This is not a humble brag, this is a factor in my loss of trust in the world. I was always asking questions and wanting answers, and when my questions where “why is the sun bright?” they held answers. The sun is bright because it’s a star burning due to it’s nuclear fusion (or some other scientific answer). But when I grew a little older, maybe age seven or eight, my questions became philosophical. Why do people do bad things? Why are some bad things excused and others punished? What is right and what is wrong? Who gets to decide that? No one had answers for me. No one had the answers themselves but they didn’t seem to mind. They went about life like it didn’t matter. How could these fundamental facts not matter? They are what makes humans function the way they do. And so my quest for answers began too early. I never really enjoyed things. There were always questions to follow and wonders that never ended.

I remember asking my babysitter at the time if they ever wondered what their life would be like if they were in the place of someone else. Would they still like the same foods? Would they still believe the same things? When you became someone else did everything about your personality change too? And my babysitter thought I was crazy. I remember her tone and I instantly knew these questions weren’t meant to be asked. She said she didn’t know, she didn’t care. Maybe it was her fault, maybe it was mine. Maybe the world is just a horrible place and no one is to blame. But that day was like a knife to my heart and I decided that day to never ask those kinds of questions again. I stopped asking her, held her hand and skipped merrily to the store. It still bubbled inside me though. The question. Still does. But at least now I’m old enough to know that circumstances create personalities. So if you were born in their life, yes, your personality would be different. Maybe you would still hold parts of it, but ultimately you would not be yourself.

My life from then became a big series of unanswered questions that were never even asked. I stopped questioning everything. Did everything that I was told, and stuffed the questions so far down in me that I hoped never to see them again. All the wonder and pure enjoyment from childhood was gone before I even really began. I was having an existential crisis at age five, six, seven – I still am. The one question that

I will never have answers for is the one I keep asking. Why. Why was I the one who had to IMG_0888.JPGhave such philosophical thoughts as a child? Why didn’t I get to enjoy it like others did? Why was I always pondering the greater life? Why me? I’m sure some other kid out there would have been a much better candidate. Maybe a scientist who would have discovered why we exist the way we do. Instead, it was me. A small kid who had no idea what to do, and only wanted to please everyone around her.

I definitely feel cheated from my childhood, but at the same time it was the happiest – albeit shortest – moments of my life. When people talk about their childhood they can mean anywhere from birth until thirteen. When I talk about my childhood, I mean from birth until six. After that I didn’t feel much like a child. I had too big of questions, too much unanswered. I was a kid facing questions adults face today. No wonder I didn’t feel like a kid. If you asked me at the time I would have told you I did. I thought everyone felt like this. I thought these were questions every kid had. Until I grew older and realised that they weren’t. Whether they hadn’t cared or whether they just hadn’t thought about it didn’t matter. The fact is I was a child having adult thoughts and I never got to have questions that had answers. It wasn’t fair. It still isn’t.