What Aung San Suu Kyi Has Taught Me About Being A Woman

Reasons why I am not an international diplomat (based on one lecture by an amazing woman):

  1. I am not willing to challenge other people on their beliefs
  2. I prefer comfort over striving to achieve the best for others
  3. I do not have the grace or wisdom to refuse to condemn those I see as at fault
  4. I sometimes make a situation out to be worse than it is
  5. I need A LOT of further education and/or experience
  6. I don’t have great posture

These are the top things I learned when attending a public lecture by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi MP of Burma. She was giving a lecture as part of her acceptance of an honorary Doctor of Laws at my old university. I’ll call her Daw Suu Kyi for short.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma is a South-East Asian country which was under British rule until its independence in 1948. In 1962, General Ne Win overthrew the Burmese government and imposed military rule.

Daw Suu Kyi was incredible, she is not only highly intelligent with a list of achievements and degrees that I could only dream of, but she has passion. You can read her full biography here but I’ll give you a brief run down.

Daw Suu Kyi was born in Burma in 1945. After spending many years studying overseas, she came back to Burma in 1988 and began to speak out against the military government who were violently suppressing the Burmese population who were protesting against the government, particularly the brutal rule of dictator General Ne Win.

She initiated a non-violent movement to achieve democracy and human rights however in 1989, the government placed her under house arrest – she spent 15 of the next 21 years in custody. In 1991, her efforts to bring democracy and reconciliation to Burma won her the Nobel Peace Prize.

In April 2012, Daw Suu Kyi was elected to parliament, becoming the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House: she has announced that she will run for the Presidency in the 2015 elections.

As I would love to achieve at least half as much as Daw Suu Kyi, I found myself comparing my future self to the graceful and dignified woman on stage during her speech, hence the above points.

1. Challenging people on their beliefs – she spoke about how some people in Burma ask her and her party how soon democracy will be brought to Burma. She responds by asking the people what they are doing to bring democracy. She said that if people want change, they should not expect others to bring it to them but instead, they should be challenged to join the fight. I think we could all benefit from this advice – if we want change, we should see what we can do to make change and not just watch (and bitch about) others doing it for us.

2. Striving to achieve for others over my own comforts – Daw Suu Kyi’s husband remained in the United Kingdom while she was under house arrest in Burma. Yet they kept their family together. She chose to remain in Burma to fight for the freedom of her people rather than leaving the country to be with her family (which would result in her not being allowed back in the country). This reiterated to me how lucky I am in comparison to the majority of the people in the world and how I should work to give more back to the world as I have so much!

3. Condemnation – Burma has many different people groups, some of which are openly hostile and attack each other. One such example is the violence between the Buddhists and the Muslim’s in the Rohinga state. Daw Suu Kyi has often been asked which side she condemns, however she refuses to condemn a side. Her goal is reconciliation and she sees condemnation as further dividing people and setting others against each other. When she spoke about this, she was graceful yet had steel in her voice. A brilliant woman!

4. One quote: “It is irresponsible to make a situation out to be worse than it really is” when talking about an attack and subsequent arrest in 1996 where four of her colleagues were killed, many injured.

5. Study and experience are important to change the world – Daw Suu Kyi has studied in India, at Oxford University, in London and Japan. She did speak about the huge gap between politics and academia – a difference similar to that of theory and practice. As much as I can be a characteristic ‘Gen Y’, I am increasingly aware that if I want to affect change in other countries, I’ll need a couple more decades of hard work. In addition, any further studies I undertake should focus on what will best help me achieve my goals.

6. Posture – her posture was incredible! And this small thing conveyed a huge amount of dignity and grace. She is 68 years old but looked like a much younger woman. So I am now going to work on improving my posture!

Naomi xo

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Let’s Talk About Sexy, Baby

Let's Talk About Sex

At an early age, females are taught that they are sexually revered. Somehow, through television or our mothers, we learned that we have some mystical power over men just by revealing our flesh and showing our breasts. This ideal is affirmed when we wear short skirts, push-up bras and revealing tops; suddenly, with a quick outfit change we are desirable, wanted and important. Change back into a conservative, baggy outfit and suddenly we are androgynous nobodies.

Society has changed. I’ve heard people label it a “slut contest” – I’d like to take a moment to explain that wearing an item of clothing (or not wearing, as the case may be) does not make you a slut. It does not mean you are “asking for it” nor does it mean you have more sexual partners than the girl dressed in junners and a hoodie. While I may disagree with the ‘slut’ label, I completely agree that it has become a contest. As I mentioned, girls receive positive reinforcement from men for wearing less and less clothing. Therefore, girls have to wear less clothing than the girl before them in order to achieve this affirmation that they are more beautiful and outstanding than the girls around them.

But, unfortunately, this attention comes at a price. I like to consider this analogy:
When girls dress in revealing outfits they are, what I like to call, ‘peacocking’. Male peacocks, when encountering a female, will lift their beautiful tail feathers and spin majestically, saying “Hey – come check out how good I look.” The fowl will swoon and run to the peacock. Commence mating ritual. So when human females are ‘peacocking’ they are attracting men by signalling the same sexual maturity. While the female psyche has been reinforced to think, “the less I wear, the more attention I get” the male is programmed to think “the more flesh I see, the more sexually available this woman is.”

Somewhere along the line, the male translation of these messages has been taken on board as fact – now even other females think that the less a girl wears, the more sexually available.

This is not the truth. If a girl is wearing a tiny skirt and high heels, she is no more or less sexually available than the girl in a pantsuit.

Take a second to look at our female role models in the media. We have porn stars, sexually explicit celebrities, sex tapes, and the constant exploitation of the female figure. How is a female supposed to grow up in today’s society to believe they are more than just a body? A quick comparison of GQ and Cosmopolitan magazine covers and it’s easy to see the contrast – men aspire to be rich, and successful with a young and beautiful woman on their arm, and apparently women aspire to be young and beautiful, attracting rich and successful men. At least that’s what they’d have us believe.

I’m not going to bore you with a lecture on morality or question your self-esteem. What I am going to do is challenge you to do two things.

  1. I challenge you to aspire to be more than just a sexy body.
  2. I’m not saying don’t be a damn fine piece of ass, I’m just saying don’t make it all you are. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be or what you should look like. Who cares whether your skirt is too short or not short enough? Remember you have a personality and brains behind those stunning looks of yours. Show the world what they can do.

  3. I challenge you to refrain from slut shaming.
  4. Next time you want to call a girl a slut for “wearing too much makeup” or “not enough clothes” consider that behind that shell there is a human being – probably not that different to you. That girl may be a virgin trying to act up to societies expectations. That girl may also have slept with the entire Essendon football team. But what concern is that of yours? A person’s sex life does not make them a good or bad person. It does not mean they are stupid or cruel. They’re probably a really great person, if you got to know them.

Jenn xo

The Lazy Gardener: No Fuss Produce

It might be the inner child in me, but I get really excited when I watch things growing from my own efforts.  I’m also fairly lazy. With those two factors in mind here’s how to grow your own spring onions.

Spring onions are independent little fellows that don’t need much coddling to get the job done, so this is a simple, no fuss way of re-growing your spring onions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  •             Spring onions (just from the supermarket)
  •             Bowl, jar or cup
  •             Vase or tall cup
  •             Tap water

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably bought a bunch of around 12 spring onions, used 4 for a recipe and then left them to wilt and rot in your fridge till it comes time to throw them out. Such is the natural life cycle of the spring onion.  Or so you thought.

Firstly, your spring onions will survive better than roses in a vase.  Pick a vase, preferably one that’s see through or glass so that you can make sure the roots are hitting the water but aren’t too deep in either. This is just because the body of the spring onion (the green bit) goes soggy when it’s been under water for a long time.

Spring onions in jar

I’ve had these spring onions in this vase for almost 3 months now, still going strong. I refresh the water about once a week. The outer ‘leaves’ of the stalk do wither and brown but you can just pull them off because a new leaf will have been growing from the center.  Now you’ve got fresh spring onions whenever you want, how cool is that!

And growing them back from barely anything is just as easy. When you’re cutting your spring onions for the gourmet meal you’re making, Leave around a centimeter of the white bit near the roots alone. Cut it off but don’t eat it and don’t throw it out.

Literally all you have to do is let the root part of this stub soak in water and it will start growing again. To do this I’ve leaned the tops of my stubs on the edge of my little bowl so they don’t soaked. And they’ll start growing in a day or so.

Grow fresh spring onions

When they get big enough just add them to the vase with the others. I put mine on the windowsill to get them some sunlight.  And voila! You’ll never need to buy spring onions again! Unless you’re making the biggest quiche in the world.

Kristen xo