Why ‘good manners’ disadvantage women

If the foundations of good manners are caring for others’ comfort, listening more than you speak, and glossing over the poor manners of others, “good manners” actually grossly disadvantage women.

Two days after I moved into my house, our new handyman Pete came to fix the windows. After showing him the problem, I made a polite retreat to my home office. Pete called out a regular commentary on all things window, and when he was done making them worse (“I’ll need to come back and take the whole frame apart!”) I got up to politely see him out.

‘White flight’ in schools: it’s not about racism

I wrote this in a fury after a report in Melbourne’s Age newspaper claimed that parents who didn’t send their children to local disadvantaged schools were racist. It was published in the the Opinion section and was the site’s most read (and commented on) of the day. I was heartened that amidst the predictable – and somewhat illogical – personal attacks (‘ur white! & denying racism! So u must b racist!’) the piece did trigger a wider discussion on education and resources. 

What are they playing at, these smug, middle-class families deserting their local state school just because it’s next to commission housing? (White flight: race segregation in Melbourne state schools) How dare those “Greens-voting, socially liberal” white families drain these “sink schools” of their affluence and high-achieving Charlottes, Matildas, Ollies and Finns?

Must motherhood kill your creative career?

I found out I was pregnant the same day a literary agent agreed to represent the manuscript I’d sent her.

Friends and family were ecstatic – about the baby. I interpreted this as ‘having a baby is more important than that writing-hobby-thing you do’. Having a baby is undoubtedly more life-changing, yet I felt a much greater sense of achievement about the book. Finishing it required huge sacrifices and – regardless of the outcome – altered me as a person. Getting pregnant required functional ovaries and a calendar.

5 Japanese life hacks for health and happiness

Every nation has something they do exceptionally well. The Swiss have their chocolate, the Dutch their legalised marijuana, and Germany their amazing cars and wonderful sense of humour (ok maybe not the last). And Zen-loving Japan? Stress free simplicity.

When you consider that Japan squeezes five times our population into a country one twentieth of our size, there is not an extra inch of space for junk. No surprise that their hottest export right now is de-cluttering expert Marie Kondo, who can fold a t-shirt like nobody’s business.

Clean, polite & trusting: surviving Japanese culture shock

The first thing I notice when I got to Japan was how nice everyone on the peak hour Tokyo subway smelled. Like the delicate fragrance of clean hair and freshly washed linen. The second thing I noticed was that the carriage was so quiet I was afraid to blow my nose, and a third of the passengers wore face masks.

“It’s not because they’re afraid of catching your germs, it’s because they’re sick and don’t want anyone else to catch theirs,” my partner explained.

To an Australian used to riding with the great unwashed, negotiating junkies, violent ticket inspectors and clouds of teenage girls’ Impulse, the Japanese are unnervingly respectful of other people’s personal space. Stand still and look confused, and within 30 seconds someone will have either offered you help, or else queued politely behind you (queueing is a phenomenon in Japan) for no apparent reason.

As much as I loved the consideration and the neatness of Japan, the manners and orderliness were so surreal I felt like I was living in some kind of Japanese-themed Disney snow globe the entire time I was there. Here’s what to prepare for:

‘My sex work isn’t just a phase’

Ever a sticky-beak, I was dying to interview one of my students after she told me she was a sex worker. Pretty much all my assumptions were blown out of the water. Here’s her story:

Growing up, my only understanding of sex work came from movies. While I always thought “I could do that if I really had to”, I never seriously considered it. Soon after turning 18, my friend and I were walking down a Melbourne laneway when she pointed to an ad for an Australian porn company. She was joking, but I was curious. I’d always been the more sexual one among my friends, and after much research I started doing erotic modelling.

Things your yoga teacher won’t tell you

Not all yoga is good. Ha! I said it. Just had a vertebra removed/hernia operation/six months pregnant and your doctor told you ‘yoga might help?’ Then this Power class is for you.

When we say ‘notice any intense feelings in this pose and let them go,’ we mean ‘Stop looking at me like I’m Hitler.’

Don’t giggle when we say ‘perineum’. Think about the muscles of the pelvic floor. How would YOU describe them?

We need to rewrite the ‘deathbed regrets’ list for women

Apparently our latest #firstworldproblem is that we are rapidly approaching ‘peak Upworthy’. If an inspiring college student’s spoken word piece ‘brought hardened stockbrokers to tears’, we’ve shared it. If a mother duck in a Bronx alley had three must-watch lessons on tough-love, we’ve learned them.

What now for yoga’s guru model?

Revelations that the former leader of Satyananda’s Australian ashrams abused children for decades have shocked the yoga community worldwide. Meanwhile, police are investigating the spiritual director of two more Australian ashrams amidst claims of sexual abuse. Is it time to do away with the guru model?