Lot's Wife - MSA Women’s & POC Edition Five

msalotswife

Lot’s WifeEdition Five

lot’s wife

EDITION FIVE

In Collaboration with

MSA Women’s & MSA POC

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Art by Brienna Emily Cover Art by Maria Chamakala

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contents

Analysis

Creative

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I Don’t Want To Dance

By Grace Baldwin

10

Lightbox Bodies

By Tingnan Li

11

Meet Us At The Intersection

By Maiysha Moin

12

Patchwork Woman

By Riya Rajesh

23

Getting The Monkey Off One’s Back: Why We Go

Ape Over Women’s Body Hair

By Xenia Sanut

18

When Charlie Met Her Maker

By Milly Downing

27

Gag Orders: A Survivor’s Perspective

By Natalia Zivcic

24

Black Girl Magic

By Sumaya. F

30

A Letter To My Fellow “Nice Guys”

By Anonymous

32

Studies About Domestic Work

By Tatiana Cruz

34

The Waiting Room: A Love Letter To My Best Friend

Who Broke Up With Her Nice Boyfriend

By Sarah Bartlett

38

The Power of Womanhood

By Meg Ruyters

50

For Our Eyes Only

By Greg Hunt

44

One Hour of Outdoor Exercise

By Jessica McCarthy

54

Are We Seeing a New Class Of Investor? And

Why The Story of Tesla’s Stock Should Be One of

Caution Rather Than Wild Success

By Ariel Horton

47

The Circus

By Eliot Walton

53

We Shall Isolate From The Teachers

By Lordy May

Culture

58

Winding Paths

By Cody B Strange

16

A Journey Through Feminist Literature

By Isabella Burton and Eva Scopelliti

60

Chasing Grasshoppers

By Joseph Lew

40

WAP: Is Sexual Pleasure Still Reserved for Men?

By Juliette Capomolla

46

An Ode To My Sparkly Pink Diary

By Tiffany Forbes

Lot’s Wife is the student magazine of the Monash Student Association (MSA). The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the MSA, the printers or the

editors. All writing and artwork remains the property of the creators. This collection is © Lot’s Wife and Lot’s Wife reserves the right to republish material in any format.

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lot’s

wife

Lot’s Wife acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land, the people of the Kulin Nations. We pay our

respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty has never been ceded.

elcome to the Women’s Edition of Lot’s Wife,

proudly presented to you by the MSA Women’s De-

the MSA People of Colour Department,

Wpartment,

and the Lot’s Wife team. Our pieces in this edition showcase

a diverse range of women’s voices, and we couldn’t be more

thankful for their contributions. They take us from uniquely

intimate and devastating encounters to the celebration of

identity and strength, delivering perspicacious commentary on

the patriarchal power structures that refuse to loosen their grip

on us. Well, not unless we can help it, that is!

Here at Lot’s Wife we feel privileged to have these talented

writers and artists share their stories with us and with you, our

readers. Our ability to publish these pieces is testament to the

progress our society is making. Yet, it is abundantly clear (as

some of the pieces so eloquently highlight) that the issue of

gender equality is far from resolved. We hope that publishing

these voices makes a small contribution to creating a world

where women can be heard - truly heard - and believed for

their experiences, thoughts and frustrations, which don’t satisfy

the sanitised version of what tradition dictates their reality must

be. But to do this, we need your help.

You can use Sumaya F’s poem ‘Black Girl Magic’, as a way to

start talking about beauty standards for Bla(c)k women when

you’re sitting around outside, having lunch with your girlfriends.

You can use Grace Baldwin’s personal essay ‘I Don’t Want to

Dance’, to talk about consent and boundaries with your mates

on the back deck, bevvy in hand. Use any of the fantastic

pieces in this edition to discuss issues at the dinner table with

your parents and siblings. These stories are springboards for

conversation and springboards for change, so please, use them.

Talk about it openly, in a way where you’re genuinely receptive

to women’s voices, and put your defensiveness down - even if

just for a day, just for a conversation, just for one piece inside

this edition.

We hope you find the courage, strength, inspiration, and love

to help make this change, as the women who contributed their

stories have done by sharing them with us.

With love,

On behalf of the Lot’s Wife team,

Weng Yi Wong and Milly Downing

We have a collective responsibility to change things for the

better. We need to share this writing with the student community

and beyond, not just for us but for the next generation,

so they can usher in this change we need. We urge you to take

up the reins yourself and pass these stories on, pass Lot’s Wife

on - through a share, a comment, a like - to start a conversation.

Share it widely, with your friends, family, and especially those

whose perspectives may be challenged by it, so that women’s

voices can echo where they previously have not.

EDITORIAL TEAM

Dao, Ryan Attard, Austin Bond, Milly Downing, Weng Yi Wong, Anna Fazio, Charith Jayawardana, Vivien Tran

Co-managing Editors Content Editors Marketing/Communications Editors Visual Editor

EMAIL WEBSITE INSTAGRAM FACEBOOK TWITTER LINKEDIN

msa-lotswife@monash.edu lotswife.com.au @lotswifemag @MSA.LotsWife @LotsWifeMag Lot’s Wife

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Art by Ruby Comte

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Hello Lot’s Wife readers! We are Meg and Eva, this year’s Monash Student Association (MSA) Women’s Officers. We have had the

honour of leading the MSA Women’s Department alongside our Women’s Affairs Committee, who have shown us what a strong

community of passionate women can achieve both within the department, and beyond. For that, we cannot thank you enough.

The MSA Women’s Department exists to advocate for women and non-binary people at Monash Clayton campus. As Women’s

Officers, we have endeavoured to help build a safer environment for students and to foster a sense of community, especially during

the massive shift to online learning this year. Through collaboration with Respectful Communities and Safer Communities Unit,

we have worked to ensure that support channels at Monash are easily accessible for students in need and increase awareness of

available resources, such as counselling and educational tools including the ‘What You Should Know’ booklet. In creating content

and campaigns online this year, we have hoped that the community within our department for women-identifying and non-binary

students feels advocated for and supported.

The mission behind this collaboration with MSA People of Colour Department and Lot’s Wife is to amplify the voices of women,

particularly women of colour. We have seen a big social shift in 2020, and what may even be considered a breaking point for Black

women, Indigenous women and Women of Colour (BIWOC). We hope that amongst the pages of this magazine, we have been

able to create a space which highlights many different feminist and social issues that this movement has stirred, including the many

challenges BIWOC face in all aspects of their lives, and the toll this can take on mental and physical health. We are incredibly excited

and grateful to be collaborating with the MSA People of Colour Department on this edition of Lot’s Wife, and hope that amongst

the variety of writing and artworks that women from all backgrounds feel seen, their voices heard, and know that their knowledge is

valued.

Thank you to all those who contributed to this special edition of Lot’s Wife! We hope that you find the writing and artwork within

these pages inspiring and empowering, straight from the minds of so many incredible and diverse women.

Eva and Meg

Facebook: MSA Women’s

Instagram: @msa.womens

Email: msa-womens@monash.edu

Eva Meg

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It’s safe to say that this year has been incredibly big for people of colour and our diverse communities, propelling us to put our game

face on as office bearers of the Monash Student Association’s People of Colour Department (MSA PoC). To our community, we’re

forever grateful for the continuous contribution and love during this time!

The People of Colour Department is an autonomous department – representing, advocating, and supporting all students of colour.

And our goals for this year have been no exception. As a much newer department, we have been working around the clock to pick

up the pace in reconnecting our communities on campus and revamping the many events brought in by our predecessors. However,

with COVID-19 hitting us and the unprecedented aftermath washing over us like a tsunami, we’ve had our department’s direction

equally as affected.

As we’ve seen in the racism stemming from COVID-19, and the resurgence of Bla(c)k Lives Matter, the multicultural communities

have been heavily feeling the impact of lockdown - these tumultuous, back-to-back events leaving many of us emotionally, physically,

and mentally drained. During this, we’ve had to revisit our direction as a department to reflect these struggles. We’ve focused more

on our policies and trying to ensure that a student of colour has a lively university experience without having to face racism, discrimination,

or any form of marginalisation. Through the help of the Safer Communities Unit and organisations like the Victorian Equal

Opportunities Human Rights Commission, we’ve had the opportunity to curate an anti-racism guide. This contains the information

to assist anyone, student or staff member, that faces, witnesses, or obtains knowledge of racial discrimination. Witnessing the harsh

light and unsuspecting rise in discrimination-related cases at Monash and globally, we hope that this is only the beginning in ensuring

that students of colour - or anyone for that matter - are equipped with the right toolkit to tackle racism.

The collaboration with MSA Women’s Department and Lot’s Wife couldn’t have come at a better time. Curated to amplify the

voices of Women of Colour, Bla(c)k Women and Indigenous women (BIWOC), this edition is for all women, not some. As we’ve said,

2020 has been a big year, particularly for people of colour. As you flick through these dedicated pages, read their stories, appreciate

their artwork, acknowledge their knowledge, you can see this is women telling us their anecdotes. This is their experience of being a

BIWOC woman facing social and feminist issues in 2020. We’re wholeheartedly excited, enthralled, and thankful to be collaborating

with the MSA Women’s Department in this edition of the Lot’s Wife magazine.

This is something not to miss out on.

With love and power,

Sabrin and Ayush

Facebook: MSA People of Colour

Email: msa-poc-l@monash.edu

Ayush Sabrin

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I Don’t Want To Dance

Words by Grace Baldwin

I met Noah* when I was fourteen, back when everything was so simple

and so complicated.

The discomfort I experienced around him wasn’t instant. It developed

over the coming months as his inappropriate behaviour continued to

crescendo.

I was fifteen when something broke inside of me.

It was early 2017, a dance in a school hall. I remember that night in flashes.

Disco lights, loud music, bad dancing – the usual. It had started off as fun.

There was a group of us at the dance sticking together so that nobody had

to awkwardly dance alone. I had been playing my usual avoidance game

with Noah, dodging him and doing my best to stay out of his line of vision.

I was used to this. I didn’t enjoy it, but I could handle it.

Then the music changed.

It turned slow, a revolting ballad filling the hall. Couples formed all around

me like magnets, embracing and swaying like willow trees. Noah locked

eyes with me from across the room, his beady gaze pinning me to the spot.

I don’t want to dance with him. I don’t want to dance with him. I don’t

want to dance with him.

My stomach slid out beneath me, and my blood ran cold. I wanted to cry.

Instead, I fled. I made a beeline for the exit, panic overtaking my vision

until I could barely breathe. Nausea was rising in my throat and my lungs

were burning and constricting. I ran out the door, down the hallway and

leant against some lockers in the dim light, breathing deeply.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.

I held my face in my clammy hands, chest heaving and wracking with dry

sobs. And as I stood there alone, listening to everyone dance to a song I

knew, I was hit by a tsunami of hopeless fatigue.

I can’t keep doing this.

I had spent years being chased, avoiding being alone with him, feeling sick

when he approached me. Now, he had physically driven me away from my

friends – a night I should have spent socialising and dancing like a normal

teenager. The dark school hallway loomed over me, reminding me that

nobody had noticed I’d left. I allowed myself to cry.

I suddenly heard someone coming towards me from the direction of the

dance. There was nobody I wanted to see, so I turned a corner off the

main hallway and hid, breathing shallowly into my hand. I saw Noah stalk

past, visibly angry. I knew it was me he was angry with. I stood as silently

as I could and he walked right by, missing me completely. He had come

to follow me, to stand too close to me, to ask if I was finally ready to fall

in love with him.

I only let myself exhale when the slam of the heavy doors confirmed his

absence.

The moonlight was beaming through the glass windows, illuminating

my hands with its pale glow. I exhaled deeply again, completely without

hope or light. The evening was ruined, and I sank to the ground.

The exhaustion came crashing down around me like a burning city.

Things never used to be this hard.

After a few minutes, I heard the music change, and I knew the couples

wouldn’t be couples anymore. With the knowledge that Noah wasn’t there

anymore to watch me, follow me, breathe on me or touch me, I turned

around and went back to the dance.

Chin up. Bright smile. Off you go.

***

From the very first weeks of our acquaintance, Noah’s behaviour grew

increasingly disturbing and obsessive. He expressed his affections to me

many times, and I did what I could as a young teenager to communicate

my refusal. He messaged me daily with provocative, graphic updates of

his poor mental health in a bid to get me to message back. He asked me

out on dates regularly. He pestered me for hugs. He always tried to sit

directly beside me so that we were touching. He sabotaged my romantic

relationships. The unrelenting consistency of his behaviour had been

wearing me down for around two years at this stage, and the dance in

2017 was (what I thought to be) my breaking point.

I didn’t yet know that I had a whole queue of breaking points lined up

ahead.

My experience with this boy stretched over five years. I was aggressively

mistreated online and harassed in-person because I did not wish to date

him. It was a textbook response – I didn’t want to date him; therefore, I

was a bitch, I should just kill myself already. These are some of the things

he said to me.

Things escalated rapidly. What had started as a ‘harmless crush’ had

grotesquely morphed into violent threats and abusive speech.

These days when I look back on this time, I observe not only Noah’s

behaviour, but the response of those around me. I am incredibly blessed

with a very diligent and loving family who did everything in their power to

help and protect me. However, the response of Noah’s school, his parents

and the community that we were connected through fell short in many

ways.

Largely, these were not individual failings. I wholly believe that those

informed were genuinely distressed and disturbed by what Noah had done

to me. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that their horror was real

and authentic. What angers me is the weak response from a disciplinary

angle.

He incurred no punishment except being forbidden to contact me online.

He was still allowed to talk to me in person, he had no punishment from

his school, and his parents were outwardly indifferent. In the end, all that

was said was that they were very sorry it happened to me, and they hoped

it wouldn’t happen again.

The reason boundaries were instilled was due to the unyielding persistence

of my parents. And sixteen-year-old me, uneducated as yet about

the manipulative power and gaslighting tendencies of the patriarchy,

apologised for causing a fuss. I said sorry for being told to kill myself by a

seventeen-year-old boy.

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This is what happens when the concerns of women, particularly

young women, are not listened to and not taken seriously. I had been

communicating my unease for years before things spiralled out of control.

To date, the responses had been vague (if well-intended) and never really

worked.

My self-defence trainer often quotes Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing

the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is exactly

what was happening. The ‘strategies’ that had been in place to protect me

were not working, yet nobody was changing them. I was a young woman,

I was uncomfortable, I was scared, and I wasn’t taken seriously enough by

those who could do something to help.

I consider that this was my informal introduction to institutional

patriarchy. Institutional patriarchy seeks to systemically (rather than

individually) protect and defend the actions of men, refusing to hold them

accountable for their behaviour. The patriarchy is not ‘men’, it is a system

that allows men to receive an extraordinary advantage in life (often in

tandem with a denial that such an advantage even exists). I have found

that institutional patriarchy is often cloaked in paternalistic politeness,

expressing patronising sorrow when women are angry at injustice, as well

as incredulous and wounded disbelief at any request for change.

Too often, the righteous, powerful, uniting anger felt in the gut of every

woman is framed as a character flaw. A misunderstanding. We’re coming

at it from the wrong angle. You won’t gain support from men if you’re

angry! (Apparently, for feminism to work, women need to present it as

non-threatening to society as it currently stands. We need to convince men

that they won’t need to surrender their privilege and work for justice.)

Now, years later, Noah has been expelled from my life. Yet, I still see

his behaviour impacting and trying to destroy other women. After five

years, nobody will hold this boy accountable. This is an abject example of

institutional patriarchy prevailing over the wellbeing and safety of women.

It is often thought that girls ‘naturally’ mature faster than boys do. I

understand the science of brain development rates between males and

females, but I also understand that men hide behind this science to avoid

accountability. It’s more than science. Women are forced to grow up faster

than men because they are launched into a world of psychological warfare

before hitting puberty. They mature faster because they have to. Girls are

thrust into mature situations, and the patriarchy propels them into a life

where being abused and harassed is their fault. Of course girls have to

grow up faster.

This is why we need feminism. Feminism is a movement that benefits

everybody. Feminism seeks to define, establish and achieve political,

economic, personal, and social gender equality. It seeks to stop the

systemic protection of predatory male behaviour so that social/political/

religious/corporate structures don’t keep destroying women.

It means women are listened to. Taken seriously when they say they don’t

feel safe.

This is something worth fighting for.

*Names have been changed.

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lightbox bodies

• Words by Tingnan Li

art is

spreading pain

out on a lightbox

poking at its insides

then presenting it

like a mounted butterfly

for the world to inspect

art is

the careful science

of pressing against bruises

transforming inky battlefield bodies

into living breathing museums

art is

prising open

the cupboard doors

to your chest

and inviting the world inside

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Art by Kat Kennedy


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Meet Us At The Intersection

Words by Maiysha Moin

We opened our eyes wide with excitement for a new decade. 2020: a new

vision for a new future. Yet, this year seems saturated with more crises than

success. These unprecedented challenges have foregrounded the desperate

need for diverse voices in leadership to develop more nuanced responses

to systemic crises. From an exigency for Indigenous knowledge of fire

management after our bushfires, to consideration of hard lockdowns on

vulnerable public housing communities, leadership as we know it fails to

reflect our multi-faceted and changing communities.

Yet when it comes to diversity, Australian politics is sorely lacking. The

polarisation and deep entrenchment of party lines have dissuaded women

of colour (WOC) from entering traditionally white and male-dominated

political spaces. 37% of our Commonwealth Government is female, and

of 227 seats only eight are held by women of colour. Instead of taking

their rightful places in the chambers of Parliament, many young women

are turning to activism to voice their frustrations and enact tangible

change. While activism does indeed have its merits and influence upon

policymaking, it will undeniably remain peripheral to the ultimate

decision-making in government. Instead we need this demographic of

Australians to step into traditional power structures and shape political

leadership to be more visionary and diverse from the inside.

For many women of colour, the inclusivity of activism and advocacy

groups is the preferred pathway to create the change they want to see.

These spaces create a safe environment for self-expression which, for

those who have experienced discrimination, forms a comforting cocoon

to pursue political change without the rough-and-tumble of a party.

Frequently, I have seen culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)

women enter, organise, and lead activist movements – whether it be a

climate strike sweeping through the streets of Melbourne’s CBD, or a

grassroots student publication amplifying the WOC experience.

During my own experiences in environmental activism, I have been

encouraged to take up leadership and oratory opportunities by mentors

within these spaces. My experience is not an isolated one: Aisheeya Huq,

a Year 12 student in Western Sydney and former School Strike 4 Climate

organiser, notes that while the ‘inner [city], high income background,

white’ activist archetype is ‘what the face of climate activism has been in

Australia for decades’, the tide is changing. Though she has struggled with

a racial and classist divide, she remarks that mentors with experience were

‘eager and willing to have more representation’ within the movement.

Huq’s sentiments are closely echoed by Desiree Cai, another WOC

working extensively in advocacy spaces. Desiree celebrates that the

‘environment movement is quite diverse’ and that while it has ‘historically

been a middle-class white movement […] it’s moving away from that –

with greater POC diversity.’ Both women note the decentralised leadership

and open structure of activism as an attractive avenue for CALD females

to enact social change.

Yet, why isn’t this diversity seen in political parties? While women of

colour take the lead in activist spaces, they are nearly absent from the

youth wings of political parties. Truthfully, it’s frustrating to see women

who advocate passionately and tirelessly feeling repulsed at the prospect

of joining a party. Cai and Huq offer an insight into two salient barriers

which exist for our demographic when it comes to politics: male pugnacity

and a lack of intersectionality.

Cai is no stranger to politics: she’s been the President of the University

of Melbourne Student Union and is a former President of the National

Union of Students. Though universities are notable for being progressive,

the challenges for diverse women are seemingly perennial. She observes

that ‘there are lots of queer people involved [in student politics], but it’s

much different when we consider race as a barrier’. Her remarks highlight

that politics can masquerade as being progressive and inclusive by

adopting epithets of feminism and diversity, but falls short of intersectional

inclusivity.

In contrast to Cai, Huq places greater emphasis on male bellicosity within

these spaces. Rather than underscoring her CALD identity, Huq attributes

the barriers women of colour face in politics to their ‘womanhood’. She

claims her gender has ‘stopped [her] from taking a bureaucratic initiative or

taking spaces which are more official structures’. The intimidation tactics

employed by young men are noticeably observed and experienced. She

remembers ‘that [the political space] was always confronting … I’ve had

experience arguing with [young] men – I don’t take the initiative to take

the space where I would be crushed’. Her words resonate deeply with me.

At events hosted by my national political party, young men fill my ears with

their unsolicited political opinions sandwiched between esoteric economic

jargon and a private-school-curated vernacular. The intimidation tactic is

dualist: overt aggression and unconscious privilege. Huq laments that it’s

the ‘subtle things that grow into a barrier – a psychological barrier’, one

which fosters feelings of inadequacy for a number of WOC who attempt

to join a political party.

The barriers which Cai, Huq, and I have observed, especially those of

race, seem less applicable to men of colour in the political sphere. On a

POC Caucus Zoom with my party, it was surprising to find I was the only

woman. Comparatively, at countless environmental and feminist activism

meetings I’ve attended over the last two years, I’ve rarely acquainted a

man of a similar background to me. The contrast would not be starker.

Why do CALD men feel more comfortable joining political parties than

joining forces with activists? Perhaps, a patriarchal milieu has legitimised

traditional power structures as an avenue for men to enact social change.

While I applaud their courage and the diversity they introduce, it is

another subtle reminder of the inherent androcentrism of politics: cater

for diversity, but make it male. The social and cultural implications on

women of colour, outlined above, will remain the same if POC-identifying

men uphold the noxious boys’ club attitude which remains rampant in

youth politics.

The path out of this pandemic may be an opportunity for social upheaval,

and an exciting prospect to include more women of colour into political

leadership. Female leaders are known to bring innovation, greater

collaboration and empathy to the table. Additionally, diverse leadership

teams record a 45% increase in revenue due to innovation – a principle of

success which seems rather translatable to policymaking. Diversity allows

for more nuanced, insightful and empathetic decision-making which

translates to greater success. When it comes to breaking down existing

barriers, Cai offers two recommendations to political parties: awareness

and action.

The first step towards change is acknowledging the current power balances

that exist. ‘Have an awareness of your actions and how they contribute to

what political space you create’, Cai advises. A practical implementation

of the advice, she suggests, is thinking critically about a meeting you’re

convening – is this predominantly white? And if so, how can you, as a

moderator, leader or individual, elevate CALD voices in the conversation?

The second is when an issue of diversity arises, ‘figure out some tangible

ways to make it better’. She contends ‘there’s a lot of lip service’ in politics

and ‘we have these conversations all the time’, yet these barriers have not

yet been dismantled. For leaders seeking to act on these obstacles, be the

mentor who inspires: encourage women of colour to run for an election, or

have their voice heard at a state conference, or simply show them the ropes

of what you’re doing right now. Just like Huq and I have experienced,

mentors play a pivotal role in opening opportunities to women of colour.

Though a resounding impetus must be given to traditional power structures,

I also encourage CALD women to step out from peripheral activist spaces

and enter political institutions. Activism is an excellent starting point to

cultivate confidence, workshop skills and form networks, but you should be

the change you advocate for. Women of colour like myself are holding a

heavy door open – it’s taking a toll on us to continually justify our place in

political parties. More of us holding the door open would have a rippling

effect across the WOC diaspora. In Huq’s words, ‘those barriers need to

be alleviated a bit by bit’.

We started the decade with vision.

So, let’s meet at the intersection and create a new normal.

Maiysha Moin is a Law/Arts student and youth activist.

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Patchwork

Woman

Words by Riya Rajesh

patchwork woman

grit and wonder

bleed

ing colour

roadmap runs

commas and stops.

intersections,

n

s

c

r

i

b

e

d

on body

on tungsten

lips

my murderous purple

thunderclap eyes

fingertips sing

fissures and cracks

world,

stand back

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Art by Linzie Joanne

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Art by Georgia B

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A Journey Through Feminist Literature

with Bri Lee

Words by Eva Scopelliti and Isabella Burton

Bri Lee

In her memoir Eggshell Skull,

Australian author Bri Lee offers a

poignant and raw account of her

experiences as a Judge’s Associate

dealing primarily with sexual assault

cases, and her journey through the

criminal justice system as she sought

her own justice. Sensitive and exposed,

Lee’s story evokes the troubling notion

that the idealised justice system is notso-just.

Her story questions the efficacy

of our legal system truly delivering justice to sexual assault survivors and

confronts the harsh reality faced by many survivors.

Similarly, her most recent book Beauty confronts tender issues of our

society, with a particular focus on the oppressive regime of beauty

imposed on women.

Lee’s tone and language are relatable, and her stories make us laugh

and cry - it feels as if we are interacting with an old friend or sister. She

fearlessly exposes the truth in a relatable and honest fashion. Ultimately,

the reader is left in a pensive state, compelled to question the structures

of our society.

We had the great privilege of conversing with Lee regarding her books, as

well as her valued insights into feminist literature.

What is one piece of feminist literature that inspires you and

why?

Finding Eliza by Larissa Behrendt has really stayed with me. It’s an

examination of how certain narratives of “savages” and “saviours” didn’t

just help colonists, but were absolutely necessary for the invaders to be able

to create the farce that is terra nullius. The titular character, Eliza, was a

white woman who used a story of her being “captive” to the Indigenous

Australians to gain money and fame, but Behrendt also explains how Eliza

was trapped under the patriarchy of the time and was doing her best.

The book has formed a critical part of my understanding of Australia’s

history and is a potent reminder that although history is written by the

“victorious,” it can be recovered.

If you could recommend a book for young women to read, what

would it be?

Argh, sorry, I can’t. Don’t listen to anyone telling you what to read! Stop

reading the “canon”! Just read widely. Fiction and nonfiction, local and

international. Read books in translation, read the papers, read graphic

novels, read poetry. That’s the most important thing, to read widely.

life and advocacy where I care a lot more about what people do than what

they call themselves. Plenty of people label themselves things, or wear the

t-shirts with the slogans, and don’t lift a finger. Also, plenty of people don’t

identify with labels because these movements can get commercialised and

exclusionary, even though some of those excluded people do the actual

work every day. Actions, people!

Your book Eggshell Skull is a memoir about both your

experience as a judge’s associate, and then finding yourself

on the other side of the courtroom. Was there a particular

moment that prompted you to think ‘I want to write these

experiences into a book?’

It was definitely about a week or two into going to the police for my own

matter. I experienced a huge shift in my perspective when I realised that

the courtroom was only the tip of the iceberg. Not many people have seen

both sides of the law so fully, and it’s a profession built on discretion, so

not many people are willing to jeopardise their careers to speak out about

the problems on both sides.

When writing your book Beauty, did anything strike you in

particular in relation to beauty standards for women that you

did not previously know prior to writing the book?

It was just so disappointing to read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, and

see how she was fighting against the same things we’re still struggling with,

and that book came out thirty years ago. I got to know more about certain

facets of the media and the beauty industry, and saw how the development

of social media exacerbated things. I suppose it was shocking to see and

realise how harmful women were to each other. Complicity is a tricky

thing to name and an even more difficult thing to confront in oneself.

And finally, in your opinion how can young women today shake

oppressive ideals of beauty and what the ‘right’ mindset to

have is?

Everyone is on their own track with this stuff and it’s a unique journey

for each of us. It doesn’t help for someone like me to swoop in with ideas

about “right” and “wrong”. What I think is most important is to take

these matters – beauty and image and bodies – very seriously. Dismissing

beauty standards and disordered eating as “vapid” or “frivolous” concerns

compounds how damaging they can be. It’s difficult to be strong and

resilient without self-esteem, and self-esteem is a resource deliberately kept

in short supply for certain people. The only thing I would “recommend”

is to, where possible, think about how the standards you have for yourself

are communicated – implicitly or explicitly – to the people around you,

and check whether they are hurtful or helpful.

Do you call yourself a feminist? If so, why?

I do. A feminist is someone who believes in equality and knows there is

work to be done until we all reach it. But I’ve also come to a point in my

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MSA Women’s Department

MSA Book Women’s Recommendations Department Book

Recommendations

With the dawn of a new age - an age of transformative gender equality and recognition - women

authors are aplenty. If you’re seeking a life-changing fem-lit piece of work, look no further than this

carefully compiled list of wonderful reads for any woman or ally to enjoy:

Feminist Literature

• Women Don’t Owe You Pretty - Florence Given

• Beauty - Bri Lee

• Invisible Women - Caroline Criado Perez

• The Second Sex - Simone de Bouvoir

• A Room of One’s Own - Virginia Woolf

• The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

• The Feminist Mystique - Betty Friedan

• The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One - Amanda

Lovelace

• I am Malala - Malala Yousafzai

• Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies- Scarlett

Curtis

• The Awakening - Kate Chopin

• The Beauty Myth - Naomi Wolf

• Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay

Books about Love written by women

• Everything I Know About Love - Dolly Alderton

• Communion: The Female Search for Love - bell

hooks

• It’s Called a Breakup Because it’s Broken - Amiira

Ruotola and Greg Behrendt

Feminist Literature by Women of

Colour

• Such a Fun Age - Kiley Reid

• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

• Becoming - Michelle Obama

• We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi

Adichie.

• Ida: A Sword Among Lions - Paula J. Giddings

• Collected Poems - Rosemary Dobson

Historical Works by Women or about

Women

• Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the

Female Citizen - Olympe de Gouges

• The Vindication of Rights of Woman - Mary

Wollstonecraft

• The History of the Wife - Marilyn Yalom

• She Speaks - Yvette Cooper

• The Radium Girls - Kate Moore

• The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

• Wild Swans - Jung Chang

• Irena’s Children - Tilar J. Mazzeo

• The Woman Who Smashed Codes - Jason Fagone

• Catherine the Great - Robert K. Massie

Fiction and Non-Fiction Books about

women written by Inspiring Women

• Three Women - Lisa Taddeo

• Eggshell Skull - Bri Lee

• A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing - Jessie Tu

• Girl, Woman, Other - Bernadine Evaristo

• Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

• The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

• Cilka’s Journey - Heather Morris

• Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay

• My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

When Charlie Met Her Maker

Words by Milly Downing

Milly is on the Lot’s Wife editorial board and was subject to the same impartial

editing procedures as any other author.

Exactly three months before her mother’s fiftieth birthday Charlie got

an itch. It was in her ‘Unmentionables’ as her mother would call it,

her ‘Special Lady Parts.’ Despite this, she kept a straight face browsing

the dinner-for-one aisle at the supermarket. Her crotch stung, oozing

something hot. Most would’ve applauded her composure as she stood

between the Chicken Noodle Soup and the 99% Fat-Free Lima Bean. She

stuck a hand down there, scratching and pulling. A young man scuttled

out of the isle, basket empty, blushing. Her finger came out burning and

topped with goo, a plump and sickly worm.

Her mother justified this behaviour by saying things like she was just an

extrovert, so full of confidence! Just like her father, takes after his side. She

struggled to prove this the older Charlie got, and now at twenty, she was

well beyond her mother’s capabilities to lie.

Charlie inspected her hot finger topped with sharp, sour slime. It wasn’t

until she got home, heavy with tin cans and discount shampoo, that she

was grinding her thighs together, totally incapable of satisfying it.

Three days before her mother’s fiftieth birthday Charlie’s doctor

explained: it’s chronic. Charlie waited suspended, legs spread and hot

between, drying out under the white lights. There’s nothing I can do,

he said. Get an ice pack. Take a bath. Avoid tight clothes and don’t put

anything inside you. He spoke between her legs, addressing her crotch.

Charlie shoved her baggy pants back up, pushing his head away.

Back at home she continued burning. She got on her bed: legs locked,

head in pillows, breathing hard, not daring to touch. This became her

morning routine. Her roommates, all male, all bloated from excessive

video games and beers, began their days with quick showers and group

breakfasts. Charlie, unable to sit down long enough to eat a meal, accepted

beers only to go to her room and slither them down into her undies. She

could hear it searing against her hot flesh way down there, like it was

crying. Charlie cried too - not that her roommates heard, not that she’d

let them hear.

It was on the day of her mother’s fiftieth birthday that Charlie saw her

again, the first time in a number of years. Charlie had conveniently

forgotten to buy a present, and her mother predicting this, secured

Charlie’s attendance to her girls-only birthday brunch. By design the cafe

was deep in her mother’s territory. Charlie had rocked up in her usual

manner: late, braless and itching. Her mother clapped her hands together

at Charlie’s arrival, wound up in a tight, borderline age-appropriate shirt,

surrounded by a gaggle of shaved legs and whitened teeth. Charlie gave a

pained smile. At least she didn’t look like that.

She sat. Her crotch sizzled on contact. Charlie inhaled briskly. She leant

on the table, her mother simultaneously leaning in too.

“Charlie,” her mother whispered. She smelt like a clown: make-up,

powdered sugar, and something fakely floral.

“Mum,” Charlie seethed and clenched her hole.

“I thought you’d wear a dress? Your tiny waist…”

“What about it?”

“Well, it’s just I remember when I had a waist like yours,” she said

rationally. “Right, ladies?” Her mother called across the table; the girls

cackled, a chorus of breathless agreement. Charlie’s hole quivered as if

squealing.

The waiter approached, and a woman in Lycra and dangly earrings

ordered the smashed avocado, extra buttery mushrooms. The woman

after, with long, whip-like lashes ordered an egg white omelette, no butter.

She was on a diet. Eyes darted between orders. Oh, you’re getting that?

Lycra blushed. The next ordered corn fritters, and hold the toast. Tart

with salad. When it got to Charlie something sharp and deep burst inside

her hole, deeper than she knew it could go.

“So, I hear you’re living with a boy?” Cooed Lycra. Her cheeks were still

bloated and blotchy. Charlie smiled resentfully, twisting in her seat.

“No,” she swallowed, clenching her jaw and clamping her hands between

her thighs. “Boys. I live with three of them.”

“Oh?” Lycra frowned, earrings drooping with her drawn-on eyebrows.

“How do you live with so many men? Must be exhausting!”

The ladies laughed. Charlie grunted, shivering at her thighs, unable to

answer. Where was the food? She poked a finger inside her pants under the

table. She was shaking. Should she go to the bathroom? Her mother was

laughing; tossing what little hair she had left, exposing some missed greys.

Who was she even trying to impress? Charlie wriggled her pinkie over the

fabric of her undies. It was sweaty. She thrust a little deeper. Just an itch.

Just a little itch. Lycra was smiling again at Charlie, an excruciating smear

of lipstick on her teeth. She stared at her. She shoved her finger further.

Past the fabric. Was she saying something? She was bloated. Hot. She

smeared her finger across her hole, and screamed. She whipped her hands

out of her pants. The ladies squawked, cutlery clattering.

“What’s wrong?” Her mother demanded, staring her up and down.

“Charlie? What are you trying to do?”

Charlie held up her pinkie finger, wet and red. A deep bite mark was sunk

into the tip.

“She bit me!” Charlie hissed towards her crotch.

“Oh please, don’t be so dramatic.”

“Dramatic?” Charlie spluttered.

“I told you I wanted a girls-only brunch, and it’s only fair that I asked

her along.”

“Yeah, Charlie,” her pussy chimed in, smoothing down her labia as she

settled on the seat opposite. “She invited me months ago, I kept trying to

tell you. I swear you’re just like a man, never listening.”

The girls all laughed in unison. Charlie stared in disbelief. Her pussy rolled

her eyes, flesh rising and falling. She smelt tangy and warm; it felt familiar

to Charlie, but too distant to really recall how. Charlie continued to stare.

She’d stopped itching.

“Why are you all laughing? Why did you even invite me if you were just

going to ask her instead?”

“Charlie, honey,” her mother began.

“We all thought it would just be easier,” her pussy interrupted. “Now you

can go home, you don’t need to hang out with us.”

Charlie opened her mouth, and then closed it. She looked at Lycra, who

looked away, and then to her mother, staring off to the side of the table.

Finally she stared at her pussy, comfortably rearranging her cutlery on the

napkin. Charlie stood and left without protest, finally not like other girls.

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Art by Katrina Young

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Art by Chan

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Art by Yesha

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Getting the Monkey Off

One’s Back

Why We Go Ape Over Women’s Body Hair

Words by Xenia Sanut

I have never shaved my legs. For the 20 years that I have been alive, I have

never – not once – put a razor, wax strip, scissors or any hair removal tool

to my legs. After reading that statement, you probably felt a mixture of

shock, disgust, indifference and resistance. I feel that way about my body

hair every single day.

I have a drawer full of leggings and tights because wearing dresses or

shorts in the summer makes me anxious. I still shave my armpits before

I wear a sleeveless shirt or bathing suit because I feel I would be judged

harshly for having visible body hair, and I have. A guy called me ‘Bigfoot’

once after he saw my leg hair. I have a tan complexion but thick, black

hair – it is not easy for me to hide it.

We call this hair, the kind that does not grow on our head, ‘excess hair’,

‘unwanted hair’ or ‘unfeminine’ and we have a billion-dollar industry

dedicated to its removal.

We see smooth and hairless women in films, TV shows, advertisements

and music videos. In fact, I was 14 when I first saw a woman in popular

culture with body hair. It was during a sex scene between Penelope

Cruz and Nicolas Cage in the 2001 film adaptation of Captain Corelli’s

Mandolin. I was not even paying attention to the movie because I was too

busy staring at the hair on Cruz’s armpits. My mind was going through a

million questions a minute. Why did they show her armpit hair? Why am I

so shocked to see her armpit hair? Why do we even care about body hair?

One theory is that our body hair helped keep our ancestors warm until

about three million years ago when the Earth warmed up and having

too much hair became a liability. As a result, we lost most of our hair

thanks to natural selection. Another theory comes from Charles Darwin

in his book Descent of Man, wherein he suggested that those who had less

hair among ancestors were more sexually desirable. However, before the

1920s, few women ever removed their leg, underarm or pubic hair and it

is believed that advertising campaigns and the popularity of photography

in the 1930s made body hair removal the norm.

If you are more concerned about the health benefits of hair removal, it is

a mixed bag. Our hairiest areas carry eccrine glands which are needed for

cooling the skin and apocrine glands which secrete pheromones, a body

odour that causes us to stink after a run but also helps us attract potential

mates. Body hair also regulates body temperature, keeps us warm in

colder climates and protects our body from outside elements. However,

shaving can cause ingrown hair and cuts, waxing can cause inflammation

and infection, laser hair removal can cause discolouration and permanent

scarring, and all can increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Removing pubic hair protects us from lice, but not removing it protects

genitalia from friction and infection - there is no clear winner here. But

what about the social reasoning behind it?

Many women begin removing their body hair during adolescence as it is

expected and almost unconsciously done. But in doing so, we internalise

many problematic societal expectations of beauty and what is considered

the norm.

Here is what one study has discovered about the perception

of hairy women compared to hairless women. They were described as:

• Less sexually attractive.

• Less intelligent.

• Less sociable.

• Less happy.

• Less positive.

Another study interviewed women who claim that hair removal is a

personal choice because it reduces body odour or feels less dirty, but

these perceptions were often subconsciously projected onto other women,

considering those who do not shave as “look[ing] like a man” or “lazy”

and “not taking care of [themselves]”. However, the views of these women

were influenced by negative comments from their own families and

partners, with a mother calling one of the participants a “dirty Mexican”

if she did not shave her leg hair, a boyfriend saying that she “needs his

permission to grow [her] body hair”, and a man telling a bisexual woman

that it would be difficult to get a girl or a guy if they grew out their body

hair. Different women also have different coloured body hair, bringing the

issue of race and ethnicity into the picture and the debate of whether

having lighter coloured body hair - a Caucasian genetic trait - means that

you are more easily accepted into society.

It is easy to change the topic, to call body hair trivial and say there are

other issues relating to women that we need to worry about. However, we

fail to recognise the discussions that arise when we talk about body hair,

and how it overlaps with not only sexism and racism, but also classism,

ageism and homophobia. These are conversations we need to keep having

and social issues we need to keep addressing, which is why I will be keeping

my hairy legs. My decision might be baffling to you, just like the existence

of Bigfoot, but at least he and I have something in common – we are

always trying to shake the monkeys off our back.

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Black Girl Magic

Words by Sumaya .F

In my mother’s lap

Pain worse than a mousetrap

An expression of Black love

Sweeter than Agave

5 Hours more

Arms excruciatingly Sore

Till each strand from the head

Becomes neat and acceptable, just like mamma said

Just another battle

Of Black girl struggle

Hair such a mess

Worse than a bird’s nest

Looking like a troll

Ingrained into the soul

Never trusted nor respected

Better be straight like the socially accepted

Damaging the coils just to fit in

Hair now straight as a pin

Underneath curls frying, dying

Neglected slowly, becoming horrifying

Better to embrace the natural

Braids, Twists, Cornrows

Afros, Buns, Wash n Go

Black hair is like magic

More versatile than physics

In my mother’s lap

Hair no longer crap

Enjoying Serenity

Embracing my identity

For Black hair is what makes me

Me

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Common Black Women

Hairstyles

BUN

AFRO

BRAIDS

WASH N GO

TWISTS

TWIST OUT

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Art by Kajal K


Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Gag Orders

A Survivor’s Perspective

Words by Natalia Zivcic

Cw. sexual assault

I was seventeen years old when I was raped. I didn’t even understand

what rape or consent was. I thought rape only happened in dark alleyways

with strange men. I didn’t know that rape could come from someone that

I knew, someone that I trusted. I believed my rapist when he said that no

one would believe me. I thought it was my fault. After all, I was drunk and

dressed provocatively. I never reported my rape to the police. I was scared

that no one would believe me.

It took me seven years of slowly opening up to friends and family to really

process what happened to me. I lost years of my life being scared, helpless,

and voiceless. Only now, at twenty-four years old, can I look back at what

happened to me with total clarity.

On February 7, changes were made to the Judicial Proceedings Reports

Act (Victoria). It is now an offence for sexual assault survivors to identify

themselves and share their story publicly. This applies to abusers who have

been convicted or where charges have been pressed. The premise of these

prohibitions is to protect survivors who do not wish to have their identity

disclosed by media reports. However, the unwelcome side effect is that

these laws have gagged survivors from coming forward and sharing their

own story. If survivors do want to share their story, they have to obtain a

court order; an expensive and time-consuming process.

Sexual assault offences are underreported and rarely result in a conviction,

with only 34 per cent of recorded sexual assault cases resulting in

any police progression at all (Crime Statistics Agency, February 2017). If

survivors don’t have the opportunity to share their story, these statistics

will get worse with time. Without hearing others stories, survivors will be

even further discouraged from coming forward. Unfortunately, the general

consensus is that reporting rape is a traumatising and fruitless activity. If

I had known that reporting the assault would be met with respect and

understanding instead of judgement and blame, I would have handled

things differently.

Reading the stories of other survivors helped me process my trauma. I

followed women on social media with stories like mine. They inspired me.

They gave me strength. I learnt that I wasn’t alone and it wasn’t something

to be ashamed of. I learnt that it wasn’t my fault. Without the opportunity

to read other women’s stories, I would never have had the courage to tell

my family and friends. Sharing my story with my loved ones facilitated

my healing and my growth, without which I would still be a scared and

sad little girl.

We need survivors to be loud. The louder we are, the more we can encourage

other survivors to report their abuse. Sharing your story is hard

enough: I am testament to that. But adding an additional hurdle through

this legislation will make it near impossible for people to come forward.

We will be forced to decide between paying an exorbitant fee or remaining

silent about our story.

As someone who, after years of silence, has only now found her voice,

these gag orders represent the years I lost. It’s disappointing that legislation

which was intended to protect survivors has instead stabbed us in the back.

If a survivor wishes to tell their story - that should be their choice. If they

don’t - that should also be their choice. The legislation is a misguided attempt

to honour this choice, and does not do justice to the rights survivors

should have.

I think, ultimately, the failure of this legislation is a result of obstinate

decision making with a disappointing lack of input from survivors. In trying

to ‘protect’ survivors from having their identity disclosed, the stigma

surrounding rape will be perpetuated.

After my rape I felt powerless, weak and vulnerable. I felt like I had no control

over my life, and I was a shadow of a person. I used to feel ashamed.

There is power in being vocal. It is healing. Speaking out publicly about

this issue has facilitated my growth in a way that I didn’t know was possible.

I never spoke out or pressed charges against my rapist. It turns out that

I’m lucky that I didn’t. If I had? I wouldn’t have been able to tell my story

today.

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Art by Kat Kennedy

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

A Letter to My Fellow

“Nice Guys”

Words by Anonymous

Dear brothers,

I’m whom some would call a “nice guy”. It’s not something I’m proud of,

and something even harder to admit. I’m not entirely sure why I wrote

this letter. I just felt if I did not speak up, many of us will continue to

go through what we are going through right now. If you do not wish to

associate yourself with me, I do not blame you. But please hear me out.

You can protest and lash at me after you are done reading.

Although the concept of a “nice guy” was never agreed upon, we have

gathered a bad rep. We are known to “finish last” in the dating scene.

A brief search online resulted in mostly negative information about us.

The typical “nice guy” is centred around the main theme that we are not

genuinely “nice”. Urban dictionary’s definition is “people (men or women)

who believe basic social expectations are currency for sex”. Or for my case,

love. This stems from our insecurity. Heartless Bitches International (a

defunct online forum for discussing issues regarding nice guys) summaries

why potential partners found the insecurity off-putting: “They are so

anxious to be liked and loved that they do things for other people to gain

acceptance and attention, rather than for the simple pleasure of giving.

You never know if a Nice Guy really likes you for who you are, or if he

has glommed onto you out of desperation because you actually paid some

kind of attention to him.”

I admit this is true for me. I am unconsciously in constant fear that people

around me do not like me, and will try overly hard please or gain their

affection. Agreeing with others had become my second nature. Took me

a very long time to discover it, and a lot more courage to accept that it is

a problem.

I hate myself for being in this predicament. For every girl I had a crush

on, I did my best to cater to her needs, listen to her, and try hard to

compliment her. Everything I can think of. But the relationship I hoped

for will not happen, and all I received for my “kindness” was the pain

of rejection. I would beat myself up and spend the lonely nights crying

myself to sleep, feeling extremely unfair that I was denied the romance

that I had been hoping for despite doing everything I thought was right.

Romantic rejections hit me the hardest and reinforces my low sense of

self-worth, that I am not worthy of being loved. It’s something that hurts

me very deeply because within me sits the fear that I would never find

someone to spend the rest of my life with while my friends start pairing

up and fade out of my life as they spend more time with their partners.

Or worse, my ex-crushes telling me that they wished their current partners

were more like me. I was confused and hopeless.

Sounds familiar? This is what insecurity is. And I know I sounded like

some entitled loser. But I know some of you think this way too.

Yet, to be fair to us, most did not choose to be like this. Through my

understanding and personal experience, I posit that these two conditions

might lead some to become a nice guy. One of them is the anxious

attachment style. Healthline notes that some signs of this condition are:

• low self-worth

• craving closeness and intimacy

• requiring frequent reassurance that people care about you.

The other is childhood emotional neglect, which according to Psychology

Today causes:

• feeling numb, empty, or cut off from your emotions, or you

feel unable to manage or express them

• low self-esteem

• extra sensitive to rejection

• believing you are deeply flawed, and that there’s something

about you that is wrong even though you can’t specifically

name what it is.

Since young, I was taught that my opinions and feelings did not matter.

To be liked, I needed to do what others wanted, which is why I have

this innate, almost desperate desire to please the people around me.

Somewhere within the deep recesses of my mind believes that being nice

to a girl means being “rewarded” with a relationship, even when it is basic

human decency to be respectful to others. And I get really upset when I

don’t get the “reward” that I thought I was promised. That is a false sense

of entitlement, and you should in no way punish someone for rejecting

your romantic advances.

To be fair, everyone has their own insecurities. But it will be overwhelming

for someone to nurse these insecurities for you, because you did not learn

to work on them. We are capable of managing it ourselves. We need to

re-learn that we are worthy of love, so long as we are clear of our identity

and who we are. We should start accepting our negative emotions like guilt

and shame, and getting rejected is not the end of the world. And as cliché

as it sounds, we need to start loving ourselves. Stop being a victim of our

upbringing and accept that we are imperfect mortals.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, once wrote: “Love

does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together

in the same direction.” Love, in this case, should be between parties who

mutually encourage each other to improve themselves, not one party

depending on the other for emotional support.

We need to be responsible for our own positive change, instead of waiting

for a beautiful damsel to change us for the better. Show others that you

are capable of positive change. Even though everyone is worthy of being

loved, we must not act as if the human race owes us a partner and the right

to procreate. Being kind to others is basic human decency, not something

that you should expect something in return for.

Go out there and do things that you yourself would be proud of doing.

Show yourself compassion when things don’t go your way. Pick yourself

up instead of blaming yourself for the mistakes you made. Get therapy

if you think you need it. Start a new hobby, read self-help books, write

gratitude journals, do mindfulness activities. Know that while you have the

right to pursue something, they also have the right not to love you back.

And most importantly, always remember that the more you develop

yourself the more likely you are to find the right person to spend the rest

of your life with.

Good luck.

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Art by Shrusti Mohanty

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Estudos domésticos

Poema de Tatiana Cruz

Studies of Domestic Work

Words by Tatiana Cruz

Forjei o grito de guerra

no inox da panela

no fundo da pia entupida

no barulho da cozinha,

chaleira que chia

comida na pressão.

Soldei a armadura a cada queimadura no fogão

Afiei os punhais,

acarinhando gatos,

alcançando a ração.

Ninando as crianças,

dessosei

o plano de guerra,

com a carne

em um das mãos.

I forged the battle cry

with the beat of a stainless steel pan,

next to the drain of the clogged sink,

surrounded by kitchen noise.

Whistling kettle,

cooking under pressure,

toasting meat,

I wielded the armour,

burning myself on the stove.

I sharpened my daggers

feeding the pets

with cats rubbing against my legs.

Lulling children,

I deboned the war plan

in the flesh.

Provando da pimenta,

dispensando o açúcar,

exagerando no sal,

tanto sal,

mastigando o silêncio a seco,

cozinhei em fogo brando

a rebelião.

Tasting pepper,

discarding sugar,

pinching salt,

much salt,

swallowing hard the silence

in slow-cooking,

I shaped the revolt.

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Art by Tatiana Cruz

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The Waiting Room

A Love Letter to My Best Friend Who Broke Up with Her Nice Boyfriend

Words by Sarah Bartlett

I am a young woman who is choosing to be single indefinitely. I am okay

with this.

“You’re just closed off right now” is what my mum said to me this morning,

when I told her, “I’m so single, I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone

else.” Reflexively, I retaliated that I wasn’t, in fact, closed off. In hindsight,

I think my mum was right. I am closed off to people. Maybe that’s not

such a bad thing. Maybe it’s an active choice. Actually, it’s something I’m

quite happy to own.

In our patriarchal culture, being single is the waiting room to your eventual

‘destiny’, the time in between partners where you keep your eyes and

heart open until you find someone with whom you can enact your socially

prescribed life-plan. As a young woman, if I am not dating someone with

the eventual hope of marrying them and buying a house with them and

having two children with them, then I exist in a liminal nothingness. I am

in the temporary, never coming to rest in the permanent, inhabiting a void

of ‘somewhere else’. I am unsettled and unsettling.

I am unsettled because the space I occupy as a single woman is transient

and chaotic. I belong nowhere and to no one, and because of this, I can be

anyone. I am not defined by the roles of wife, mother, or girlfriend. Rather,

I define myself by what I want to do, see, believe, and want. When entering

into a monogamous heterosexual relationship, ‘I’ necessarily becomes

‘we’. Indeed, if we are in a relationship – one that is hurtling towards its

prescribed endpoint of marriage, house and babies – then we must take

all these (very significant) factors into consideration when making choices

about our lives. So, when in a relationship with a man, our present and

future choices are no longer solely our own. Rather, they are bound to

the needs and wants of someone else as we find ourselves in a perpetual

dialogue of compromise, falling into our role as a lover, and then probably

as a mother. Having a relationship with a man in a patriarchal society

necessarily chips away at my autonomy. It chips away at ‘me’.

As single women, we are therefore unsettling. We are unsettling because

the space we occupy when unattached to our boyfriend/husband/future

children is a space of radical freedom. It’s a space of self-determination

that was never meant for us. When we hold the freedom of being single,

we disrupt the centuries of patriarchal design which have told women that

we must be compliant to our husbands and our roles as caregivers. To be

single is to be subversive.

Even if, as young single women, we are free to be something other than

a wife or mother (because we are currently neither), we are always told

that this time will soon come to an end. We are told that inevitably our

life will be attached to other lives – that of our husband and children – in

incredibly demanding ways. On the other hand, being single means being

untethered and free to be and do however we please. Right now, I can

shape my life just for me. I do not need to bend and twist it to the will

of anyone else. And shouldn’t I be able to do this? It is my life, after all.

Patriarchy doesn’t want this freedom for us. Men can work harder, earn

more money, pursue their dreams more fiercely, and carry on their legacy

if we love them. This is because the burden of caring for him and a future

family will always fall more heavily on us as women. Our free domestic

and emotional labour are too valuable to both the economy and to the

maintenance of male privilege for it to be acceptable – or even conceivable

– that we would not provide these things.

Of course, feminism has brought many of us far, particularly those of

us who are otherwise privileged. Women’s consciousness is ever-growing.

Many of us are vocal about our refusal to be subservient to our husbands

and our agency in deciding whether or not to have a family. However, as

Mandy Lee Catron notes in ‘The Case Against Marriage’, our occidental

culture continues to venerate marriage as the most desirable life

path, and we persist in positioning marriage as the most central form of

relationship. Moreover, women still disproportionately bear the burden of

domestic labour in heterosexual partnerships. Clearly, normative social

expectations for women continue to conform to the expected endpoint

of ‘husband and house’. Even if our progressive bubble cheers on dreams

of independence, such feminist ideas remain radical in the mainstream.

Overwhelmingly, we continue to believe that ‘good’ women are givers,

creators, nourishers and lovers. We are told that a good woman is self-sacrificing.

She is valorised because she always gives her body and her time to

other people over herself. She would do anything for the people she loves,

and she would never ask for thanks, because she doesn’t do it for praise or

validation. She does it because she is a good woman.

This means that we can never be the taker, the one who pursues dreams

which are solely our own, without being demonised or pathologised. The

pursuit of a life which is just our own, on our own, is seen as an insolent

eschewing of the responsibilities of care we owe to our present and future

families. We are ‘bad’ women unworthy of celebration. We are taking

from the places where we are supposed to give. If I am on my own, I am

cold, selfish, damaged, unnatural, wrong.

“You’re just closed off right now,” Mum tells me. But I’ll come around. I’ll

be made right soon when I meet the right man.

“Don’t worry,” she soothes.

Disappointingly, owing to internalised misogyny, other women also do not

want us to be single. They write listicles warning us against the “10 things

that drive guys away”, benevolently informing us of all the ways we must

edit ourselves to remain date-able, fuckable, marriageable. They won’t let

us get our tubes tied because we “might change our mind”. They tell us

we should see a psychologist to work on our ‘attachment issues’. They tell

us to stop eating that, start wearing this, to alter, cut, shrink, to make sure

that we glow from within, but to make sure that our skin glows too. Men

don’t like that, do this instead. You have to, if you want the happy ending

of love, purpose and contentment. We’re reassured that when it happens,

we’ll understand what all the beautification and supplication was for, and

why our singledom was only ever meant to be temporary. There’s always

the promise that something better waits for me outside of the strange abyss

through which I currently float, unattached and uncommitted – if only I’d

open myself up to it.

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But is there something better? In his (in)famous Netflix special, Jigsaw –

which he claims has ended over 34,000 relationships – comedian Daniel

Sloss reminds us that real, true, ‘soulmate’ love is an anomalous miracle,

and it is a harmful delusion to believe that we all should be so lucky. Moreover,

to meet a man who is willing to dismantle his patriarchal socialisation

also seems to be a rarity. I fear that it is more likely I will end up at my

husband’s boots, than by his side in equal partnership.

We as women idealise and pursue ‘husband and house’ because it is easier

than acknowledging an uncomfortable truth: that our freedom as single

women probably has an expiration date. We don’t want to reckon with the

fact that the stories we’ve been told about love won’t always come true. If

we admit that being single is sometimes the better option, we would need

to acknowledge our cognitive dissonance between the idea of romance

and the frequently disappointing reality of heterosexual relationships.

This is why we see being single as the waiting room, a state which necessarily

has an endpoint where my knight in shining armour stands. He’s just

outside of my peripheral vision but he’s there, he’s definitely just around

the corner. He’s ready to carry me to stability, to settle me, to consummate

my ultimate purpose as wife, mother, woman. Finally, I’ll be freed from my

liminal, solitary, chaotic reality. I’ll find comfort and security in the arms

of a man, the walls of a house, the clarity of direction.

Of course, monogamy and children may bring us joy. Perhaps all I really

do want is to find comfort in the suburban ordinary. I also do not want

to suggest that many women who are married with children entered into

such a life without agency, or that they aren’t genuinely content. There

are, of course, the lucky ones. But I’m sceptical of this life being framed

as the only desirable or fulfilling option, simply because we do not want

to imagine an alternative. The sky-high divorce rate and epidemic of

poor mental health amongst women suggest that “the problem that has

no name” Betty Freidan elucidated long ago in The Feminine Mystique is

far from vanquished. When I lie in bed next to my husband twenty years

from now, exhausted from balancing parenting, cooking and cleaning with

some kind of half-career (because I surely won’t be able to do it all), will I

feel fulfilled and sleep peacefully? Or will I, like Betty in 1963, turn restlessly

knowing that something is missing? Will I yearn for something more,

something different?

It scares me how uncritically I was sleep-walking into a life that I’m no

longer sure I even want. I am tired of being told that a monogamous,

heterosexual relationship – and the life-baggage that comes with it – is

my unequivocal destiny. We must reject the mandate that our singledom

is liminal, temporary or undesirable. Right now, and indefinitely, I want

to embrace the chaos, ride the exhilarating fear of the unknown, and fall

into the fulfilment of doing

Whatever.

I.

Want.

Art by Kat Kennedy

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Art by Joshua Nai

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Art by Joshua Nai

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

This

This feels like courage

Like life falling out from my fingertips in rain

droplets

I

I am the sound of rain

On the earth as it pulsates

Brazen and breathing

Hung up while speaking

and listening

and learning

Learning how to be

how to be woman

powerful

unyielding

In fullness

The Power of Womanhood

Words by Meg Ruyters

full

full

full

I am full of this all

this sunlight

As I lay back in the grass

Green blades on my cheek

Tracing my jawline

The arms of womanhood holding me

pulling me

pulling me

down

down

down

and into its being

unblinking

Eyes wide now

This stage is open

Its walls my arena

Bouncing

bouncing

The voices of womanhood loud now

Measured and brave

unflinching

This

This feels like becoming

like realisation

Realisation of the power of womanhood

of adoration

For the women who yearn

who fight

who love

who triumph

The raindrops are louder now

they echo

they carry weight

My being alive

alive

alive and desirous for more

For being

being

being

is the power of womanhood

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Mel

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

WAP: Is Sexual Pleasure

Still Reserved for Men?

Words by Juliette Capomolla

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘WAP’ is arguably the most

controversial song of 2020. In case you missed it, WAP stands for Wet Ass

Pussy, an acronym which has caused quite a stir amongst conservatives

and archaic individuals.

Aside from the prudish shock-horror surrounding the lyrics of the

song, fans and supporters of the song have criticised YouTube for their

censorship of the music video. According to a video Cardi posted to

Instagram, YouTube reportedly felt the song was, in Cardi’s words, “too

goddamn nasty”. In the music video, the rappers can be heard saying “wet

and gushy” instead of wet ass pussy.

Despite the controversy, the song has continued to break records since

its release at the start of August. The music video has almost surpassed

130 million views on YouTube. It marked the biggest opening week of

sales by a female rapper and the biggest streaming week by a female artist

this year. It managed to sell over 500,000 units in the US in its first week,

nearly becoming a gold record. WAP is the first female collaboration to

spend multiple days at #1 on the US Spotify Charts, and it is the first

female rap song to top the Australian charts ever – and those are just some

of the records.

It is undeniable that WAP is a ground-breaking song for women and music

in general. So why has it caused so much controversy?

Indisputably, the song is filthy. With lyrics like “bring a bucket and a mop

for this wet ass pussy”, “I want you to park that big Mack truck right in this

little garage” and “gobble me, swallow me, drip down the side of me”, it’s

not hard to see why it has caused a riot amongst conservatives.

Remarkably (but not surprisingly), the song managed to make its way

into American politics. James Bradley, a Republican running for a

Congressional seat in California, tweeted the following in response to the

song:

“Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when

children are raised without God and without a strong

father figure. Their new “song” The #WAP (which I heard

accidentally) made me want to pour holy water in my ears

and I feel sorry for future girls if this is their role model!”

DeAnna Lorraine, another Republican and former congressional

candidate from California, tweeted a similar sentiment, saying:

“Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female

gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile “WAP”

song.”

She followed up a discussion on the topic saying the song should be

banned.

Unsurprisingly, not only did people take issue with two women claiming

their sexuality, but also Cardi and Meghan’s race.

Errol Webber, yet another republican running for California, tweeted:

“That new #WAP song by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion

is exactly everything that is wrong with mainstream hiphop

culture. It’s like one big advertisement for promiscuity.

Encourages wild & unsafe sex. Then you wonder why

Planned Parenthood targets Black communities? Sick!”

Evidently, it appears people are taking issue with the fact that two black

women are empowered by their sexuality and are reclaiming it from men

who have used it to their advantage for decades. Since when do politicians

comment on the lyrics and music videos of rap artists? This composition

of two black women discussing their vaginas and sex is surprisingly still too

outlandish and un-ladylike in 2020.

Looking at the landscape of American politics demonstrates that female

sexuality, and perhaps women in general, are still expected to be ‘ladies’

and subdued. We only need to look at the retraction of abortion rights in

2019 across many US states, and the treatment of significant females in

the government such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to understand how far

we still have to go with women’s rights. I think it’s important to grasp that

the outrage that WAP generated represents a much larger issue than what

some may contend is an insignificant music video.

Like me, Cardi was also surprised by the reaction. In an interview with

i-D, Cardi said:

“I’ve been really surprised by the reaction, honestly. I

knew it was gonna have a big impact, I guess, because of

me and Megan. But I didn’t know it was going to be so

controversial. I never expected that, you know, conservatives

and Republicans were going to be talking about the song. I

didn’t think the song was as vulgar as they said it was, you

know? Like, I’m so used to it. I’m such a freak that I didn’t

think it would be a big deal. I didn’t think people would think

it was so out of this world…”

Truly, this song really isn’t starkly different to what we’ve heard from male

rappers for decades. Lil Wayne literally has a song called Pussy Monster

where he says pussy 27 times - yes, I counted. In Jason Derulo and 2

Chainz’ 2013 hit “Talk Dirty”, the line “her pussy’s so good I bought her a

pet” is not censored in the official music video on YouTube.

Men have been talking about their dicks for decades uncriticised and

praised. Even more, they have been using the word pussy in their songs

without a stir. Why is it that men can use and profit off of female sexuality,

and often the abuse of female sexuality, but two empowered women

cannot do the same? Not only are we much more comfortable with a man

talking about his sex, but they are given the right to talk about female sex

much more readily than women themselves.

Perhaps this idea stems back from what we learn in school – sex is for

male pleasure, and women are simply ‘baby-carriers’. After all, how can

a woman enjoy sex if she’s never been taught that sex is equally for her

enjoyment, too? Thankfully, we haven’t heard much outrage from fellow

artists – in fact, there’s been a lot of support for the two rappers. Yet,

perhaps what this demonstrates is that those in power are still not prepared

for women to take ownership of themselves, their bodies and their agency.

And what about Cardi’s child: what will she think when she grows up to see

this? My response is this – who cares? No one is asking Lil Wayne or Jason

Derulo what their hypothetical children will think of their music. Cardi B

is well entitled to raise her child as she sees fit, especially if she wants to

raise a sexually empowered female. This sort of criticism only perpetuates

the narrative that women should spend their whole lives preparing for

marriage and motherhood, an archetype that is well beyond its due date.

Evidently, the shamelessness and confidence that WAP oozes is still

reserved for men in the music industry, and perhaps in broader society.

Nonetheless, perhaps the surge of female artists embracing their sexuality

like Cardi B and Meghan Thee Stallion, amongst other big names like

Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, represents the beginning of a cultural shift. One

can only hope.

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Art by Shrusti Mohanty

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Katrina Young

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Katrina Young

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One Hour of Outdoor Exercise

Words by Jessica McCarthy

Ordinarily, I would walk to the beat of songs in my head

ordinarily...

that hazy old-world reverie

In August 2020, I walk with cotton

delightfully snug on my face

relishing a veil between

the world and I

mouthing the words to songs in secret.

children search enshrouded faces

for signs of life

old men can’t tell me to smile

at this masquerade ball

But then worry

I said hello too quietly

rude, they must have thought

uptight

aloof

unfit

they were looking at you funny

... get over yourself

In August 2020, I walk to rhythms of voices, almost friends

throw myself down the rabbit hole

greedily devour anecdotes

count red flags circling soccer pitches

swell with epiphanies

as I pass my primary school

Netball courts.

old, familiar shame rolls head to toe

an early sting

from the beehive to come

I wonder if I ever left here

In August 2020, I grieve

for the year I was supposed to live with my whole body

for helicopter parenting my youth

for last times unacknowledged

for old habits resurfacing

for closure

becomes tainted

when common interests dare unite us

we’ve stolen back the ammunition

in a year where pleasure is pleasure and guilt obsolete

I surrender to the sounds of anticipated spring

‘Lost in the memory’

I lose myself in the song

my memory is not an abyss

but a museum

alive with visceral cringes

snatching unexpected

see my eyes meadow-wide

through your searing cerulean stare

I was

sincere

guileless

mortifying

‘cause you weren’t mine to lose’

But I painted that tableau

and I can paint it again with

gentler colours

In August 2020, l catch glimpses of myself

through my own gaze, not theirs.

build a roof to block out

that crippling bird’s eye of misogyny

I am my own muse

Aphrodite if I choose

inflorescent

opalescent

brewing cups of magnificence

I follow dry creek beds

chasing dappled sunlight through the trees

wattle sings warmth to

voluptuous eucalypts

and princess prunus blossoms

I hang love letters on clouds

bound for my future self

yearn to float amongst those

rows and flows of angel hair

and reify my daydreams

Arms ache to gather friends

hands burn for a microphone

fingers itch to share hot chips

tears mist, glasses foggy

In August 2020, I listen to ‘august’ by Taylor Swift

every day

I’ve forgotten to pretend.

‘basic’ doesn’t exist without those guys around to be ‘deep’

when anything touched by the feminine

My feet console me with their optimistic stride

there’s always a book on the bedside

flowers to press

letters to write

rain, chimneys and coffee to smell

infinite love to lade upon the souls of my soul

Healing

hope

home again

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Art by Maria Chamakala


Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Kat Kennedy

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

An Ode to My Sparkly

Pink Diary

Words by Tiffany Forbes

I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer.

From the moment my stubby little HB pencil hit the page in grade one, to the happiness that now resides

in intricately stringing words together as the world around me completely falls away, I’ve always known.

Whilst my friends walked into school with Bratz dolls and the latest Littlest Pet Shop figures, I clutched

none other than a sparkly pink diary adorned with blocky text that read “DO NOT ENTER”. The pages

that followed were littered with scribbled diary entries and short stories only the hyperactive imagination

of an eight-year-old could manage to conjure.

Back then, writing was a place for words left otherwise unsaid. A place undefined by rules and overthinking.

A place fuelled by my own fleeting thoughts and unbridled childhood curiosity.

When an artist paints, they say a picture tells a thousand words. But when a writer writes, words aren’t

just letters on a page anymore. They’re a canvas of their own: characters coloured with life, a portal into

a different world.

As I grew older, this comfort evaporated. High school made my prose rigid. Social confines left my

imagination battered. And deep-set imposter syndrome made me question the legitimacy of anything

I put to paper. Each piece I wrote swiftly compared to those around me and critiqued until I’d drag it

straight to the trash icon.

Writing wasn’t a solace anymore, it became a chore. Words that once flowed freely were stagnant and

overthought.

Confiding in a friend, I explained how writing began to feel suffocating because my work was never

sophisticated enough, my ideas not original enough, nor my style the same calibre as everyone else’s.

“But Tiff, isn’t that the point?” she deadpanned.

Someone out there will want to read your writing even if it’s not fucking Shakespeare. Someone out there

will want to read your writing because they like your randomly inserted Gordon Ramsay jokes. Someone

out there will read your work for exactly what you want to change about it. Someone somewhere will

resonate with you. And there, in that, lies the beauty of it all.

So here I am bearing my soul, because writing doesn’t always have to be some nuanced carefully strung

narrative, writing doesn’t always have to be a symphony of words joined together in perfect unison.

Writing can be a raw 4am ramble finally coming to fruition, messy thoughts etched out in barely coherent

lines, a love letter stained with tears and one too many broken promises. Writing can be anything you

damn well want it to be.

So here’s to friends who know you better than you know yourself, ditching the toxicity of comparison and

that fucking sparkly pink diary. I owe you one.

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

The Circus

Words by Eliot Walton

Come, come, come and see –

welcome to my menagerie:

we’ve got bulls, bears, bats and cats

snakes, drakes and huge mistakes!

That’s our host, that one there -

the clown with the purple hair

painted smile, upturned frown

peaked with a jester’s crown

This is one we could not cage

So, we built for her a stage

The curtains part and forth is she

Incarnation of enmity

Her lips a black, her gown is white

Her locks are dark as absent light

The central spot upon her shines

Marking her in shadowed lines

“I see you there, at the back

I see you and all you lack.

Do you think that you can hide

from that which lives inside?

Do you think that I will go

just because you say so?”

She steps as close as I am now

Hand to your frightened brow

Keep close to me, tonight

never wander out of sight.

Of all the multitudes contained

within the finite width of brain

Hush falls beneath her eyes

as each in the crowd espies

the whitened bone of her hand

reaching for her fleshy band

“I see you now and all you lack

there is no turning back

I see you now and all you say

there is no other way

We find the first by an arrow

directing to a silver sparrow

collecting thoughts to build a nest

Never once is he at rest

He’ll catch a thought by the tail

and pull and pull to no avail

frail thoughts are his prey

desperately he works away

down - down and down once more

until the thoughts are a roar

hide your head between your hands

rock and rock until he lands

then at last you are free

from the spiral Anxiety

Oh - to you this seems a bore

You want something a little more?

Then follow the crowd’s steady flow

it leads to our central show:

Lifting off her outward face

Laying bare her own disgrace

Thumb-thick maggots crawl beneath

her grinning – grey skeleton teeth

A nightmare taken flesh and form

Dysphoria – at last is born

Her viper-hair whips around

To its place the crowd is bound

No magic can keep them here

Nor threat, promise or fear

They choose to stay and to stare:

At the woman with serpent hair

She raises up her arms of bone

And calls out to you alone

Strides across the silent crowd

Then, to you, asks aloud:

I see you know as you will be

I see you in the menagerie.

You cannot hide from me now

No place to run, no oath to vow

You and me on this stage

You and me on this page

You and me here together

Dancing for them forever

So come – come – come and see

Here’s your place in the menagerie.”

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Linda Chen

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Linda Chen

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Lot’s WifeEdition Five

For Our Eyes Only

The Balance between National Security and Press Freedom is Tipping

Dangerously Toward Secrecy

Words by Greg Hunt

Democracy, so say the political theorists, is predicated on a lively Fourth

Estate acting as a critical watchdog of government. The free press, in

holding elected officials accountable to the public they represent,

is the cornerstone and lynchpin of free society. That’s the theory, anyway.

In Australia, the practice is quite different. In Australia, the free press is

under threat.

First, some context.

Dominating the headlines in September was the news that Cheng Lei, an

Australian-Chinese reporter at CGTN, had been detained by Chinese

authorities. Furore also erupted when Hong Kong police raided the offices

of Apple Daily and detained Jimmy Lai, a notorious Beijing critic,

in August.

These events give us cause to reflect on the fact that the same kind of

nebulous charges that justified these crackdowns – undermining national

security – were invoked right here in Australia only last year to justify

the well-publicised AFP raids on Annika Smethurst’s home and the

offices of the ABC.

What we also learned last week was confirmation by AFP Commissioner

Reece Kershaw, under questioning from Senator Hanson-Young in a

Senate inquiry into press freedom, that Dan Oakes, whose reporting

along with Sam Clark on the Afghan Files triggered the ABC raid, may

still face prosecution.

That’s worth repeating. A journalist, on home soil, faces the prospect

of going to jail for doing his job. This is at a time when at least four

individuals – Witness K, Bernard Collaery, Richard Boyle and David

McBride – face lengthy jail sentences for blowing the whistle.

Never mind that the public has a right to know about serious allegations

of war crimes committed by Australian SAS soldiers in Afghanistan,

or plans to extend to the Australian Signals Directorate NSA-like powers

to spy on domestic populations, or rorting of the ATO, or that

Australian intelligence agents bugged Timor-Leste officials to get

leverage in 2004 treaty negotiations.

In the eyes of the government, what matters is that whistle-blowers

and journalists are not above the law and that their conduct was illegal.

Perhaps this attitude from our politicians explains why Australia slid five5

places in the World Press Freedom Index this year (now ranked 26 th ).

How did it come to this?

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and Bali bombings, politicians came

under increased political pressure to fortify national security. Since 2001,

in a climate of “convenient bipartisanship”, an estimated 85 pieces of

National Security legislation have been introduced (an average of one law

every three months for 20 years).

This has led to a proliferation of “secrecy laws”: sweeping provisions

that impose harsh penalties for sharing or receiving “unauthorised

information”. In 2009, the Human Rights Law Commission identified

506 such laws. Examples include Section 35P of the ASIO Act (1979) and

Section 122 of the Criminal Code (1995).

Australia’s burgeoning national security legislation makes it one of the

most secretive democracies in the world, even among the Five Eyes

nations.

Arcana Imperii

These laws, we are told, exist to keep us safe. They are necessary to combat

terrorism, foreign interference and espionage.

Whatever the spirit of these secrecy laws, the problem is that they are

being used by politicians to intimidate journalists and whistle-blowers.

And this is having a chilling effect on legitimate public interest journalism.

Not only does a journalist risk going to jail for merely receiving government

secrets, but the authorities can use these laws to secretly obtain Journalist

Information Warrants (JIW). These grant them access to a journalist’s

metadata for the purposes of identifying their sources. This may mean

that, with whistle-blowers deterred from leaking to journalists, important

stories may never make it into the public domain.

While internal avenues for reporting wrongdoing in public administration

do exist (such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Inspector-

General departments), there is no requirement that investigations be

made public, and genuine complaints can be easily be brushed aside as

opposition to genuine government “policy”.

The reason we ought to be worried about all this is that the culture of

secrecy increases the risk that politicians can use sweeping secrecy laws

to conceal or cover up corruption, maladministration or abuse of power.

Let the Watchdog off its leash

Power, as Lord Acton’s adage reminds us, can corrupt those who wield it.

It is for this reason that the unfettered kind of power afforded to our elected

politicians by secrecy laws, justified under the pretext of safeguarding

national security and keeping us safe, is problematic. Designed to conceal

from public scrutiny the inner workings of government, the exercise of

these powers should be subject to oversight. This is why the scrutiny

afforded by “accountability journalism” becomes so vital: press

freedom acts as a bulwark to guard against abuse of office.

Instead, probing into government secrets – even when it’s done in the

public interest to expose illegality or wrongdoing – has effectively been

criminalised in this country.

Of course, balancing secrecy and transparency in government is a delicate

act. Certain types of information, like operational details about military or

intelligence activities that would risk harm or death to individuals if made

public, should be strictly off-limits.

But the police raids last year highlighted what some academics have

been saying for years: that Australia is on its way to becoming a quasipolice

state.

To restore public trust, we need a new regime of openness and

transparency that enshrines the special place of watchdog journalism in

our society. The paradigm shift will take time, but legislating an express

public interest disclosure exemption (rather than defence) for journalists

and whistle-blowers in respect to secrecy laws, and introducing a UK-style

contestable warrant system, would be good places to start.

It is a cliché to say that democracy dies in darkness. But without reform,

our government risks being shrouded in secrecy. And this is a bad thing

for democracy.

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Art by Shrusti Mohanty

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Art by Jayden Crozier

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We Shall Isolate From

The Teachers

Words by Lordy May

Even though large tracts of Victoria and many other Australian

states have fallen or may fall into the grip of coronavirus, and the

odious apparatus of lockdown, we shall stay inside till the end…

We shall isolate at home.

We shall isolate on our screens and iPhones.

We shall isolate and maintain one-point-five metres distance when

in pairs.

We shall defend our State, whatever the economic costs may be.

We shall isolate from the teachers.

We shall isolate from the fines.

We shall isolate and stay off the streets.

We shall isolate at the tills.

We shall never be an offender!

And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this State or

a large part of it were infected with COVID-19, then our health

workers, armed and guarded with PPE, would carry on the struggle

until, in God’s good time, the scientists, with all their knowledge

and expertise, step forth to the rescue and liberate us with a

vaccine.

Art by Shrusti Mohanty

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Are We Seeing a New Class of Inves

Stock Should Be One of Caution Rath

Words by Ariel Horton

Large-scale car manufacturing is one of the most difficult industries

to break into. Most of the well-known car companies are decades old

with thousands of workers, factories all over the world, and Research

& Development (R&D) budgets in the billions. So when Elon Musk laid

out his ground plan for creating electric vehicles, disrupting the entire

automotive industry and doing it by going head-on against every other car

manufacturer in the world, it seemed he was setting himself up for certain

failure. To those in the industry, it wasn’t just David versus Goliath but as

if David was fighting Goliath, Goliath’s family and Goliath’s friends all

at once. It was set to fail, another startup doomed to bankruptcy within

a couple of years. Their predictions were right but they were missing one

thing: the absurdly confident investors of Tesla.

Tesla went public very early and used the stock market to finance its

operations. This meant the livelihood and success of Tesla was, even in

its infancy, tied to the performance of its stock. In simple terms, valuation

can be explained with the comparison of buying a carrot and buying the

farmhouse that grew it. Let me explain.

and airliners alike. The people in the room number in the millions - some

professionals, others doing it for fun, others gambling for that big break.

The stock market is a web of interactions that touches every single person

on Earth, whether they are aware of it or not. But that implies that the

stock market must be this super chaotic place in which no one is really

aware of what drives prices on a day-to-day basis, news or no news. There

are too many people in the room all with their own opinion to get a clear

picture of how much this farm is worth.

But enough of the wider stock market, let’s move onto the curious case

of Tesla. In the financial space, Tesla, otherwise known by its stock ticker

TSLA, is known to be quite the eccentric stock. Its movements are violent

and jerky, with swings of 10% a regular occurrence. These swings are

a rare sight for a stock with a market capitalisation of this size, where

daily change is in the order of a few percent. (Market capitalisation = the

number of shares times its current price.)

Imagine you are in a room with ten other people and you have a table in

the centre with a carrot. Now each of you are trying to buy this carrot but

you don’t know how much you should pay. Perhaps with a carrot you can

make a lovely stew and so the carrot is worth more to you. Or perhaps

you’d look at the cost of production, how much water was used to grow

the carrot, and the land it was grown on for instance. These methods have

been tried and tested ways of determining the value of something for

thousands of years.

A physical good is relatively easy to value but an entity like the farm is a

lot more difficult. Consider a portion of the factors that go into such a

valuation: the farmhouse, the farmer’s skill and labour, the ground, the

costs, the revenue, the contacts and the possibility of the future. It sounds

a bit more difficult, and it is, but we’re not quite at the stock market yet. To

finish this analogy, consider that you are not valuing the farm to purchase

it from the farmer; instead, the other nine people in the room each own

a portion of the farm and are trying to sell it to you. Each seller has their

own costs, their own goals and their own information. They each have a

different amount of money and they’ve all been educated differently. One

of them knows the farmer, four of them are standing in a huddle talking

about the climate, and the others are all looking through the same financial

documents trying to glean an edge over everyone else in the room.

Now we have a semblance of how the stock market works, but even this is

a simplified example. We’re not just valuing one farm but hundreds, and

not just farms but engineering firms, supermarkets, banks, automakers

What really drives the conversation of Tesla is its ability to defy expectation

and maintain ludicrous growth of its stock. Tesla was first listed on the

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2010, at $3.40 USD (split-adjusted).

The price right at its stock split, on the 31st of August, was $498 (splitadjusted);

if you bought $1,000 in shares back in June of 2010 when it

was first listed and sold just after the split, then that $1,000 would be

worth $146,450. A stock split, for those unaware, is when each share is

split into several pieces and are individually cheaper as a result. In Tesla’s

case they did a one-to-five split, so if you owned ten shares then after the

split it would be fifty shares. Stock splits are used to allow more investors

to purchase shares, otherwise a single share can be in the thousands of

dollars or in the case of a Berkshire Hathaway Class A share, can put you

back $329,500.

That is unprecedented growth for any stock, especially over ten years. You

might be led into thinking that they must be selling cars like candy and

making billions, but Tesla has never had a profitable year. And yet despite

producing one thirtieth of the cars Toyota makes, and one tenth of the

revenue, it is the world’s most valuable automaker by a large margin.

Unlike the carrot example, where our ten investors have used what they

know about carrots and farming to value the farm, Tesla seems to run on

pure speculation of its future profits and value. With low assets, high R&D

costs, growing debt, constant issues with production and controversies

surrounding their figurehead Elon Musk, the company does not seem

healthy to the financially savvy investor. Most institutional investors were

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tor? And Why the Story of Tesla’s

er Than Wild Success

and are wary of Tesla as an investment, sticking to less risky and overall

more healthy companies. Tesla does not follow any of the normal stock

valuation techniques, otherwise it surely would’ve filed for bankruptcy

long ago.

They manage to do this by selling more than just a car. They’re selling a

dream. They’re selling camaraderie in a counter culture. They’re selling

you the feeling of doing something good for the planet and at its head

is a somewhat likeable twitter aficionado who acts more like a rock star

than a top CEO. Tesla doesn’t need to fight investors to raise capital for

growing debt repayments. They need only announce a new plan for the

next ten years, with almost no substance, and the stock soars. Musk can

go on Twitter and say that Tesla will be making a joke flamethrower and

the stock will go up. Tesla can say that their production numbers are lower

than their target and the stock will still go up. In many ways, the company is

marketing itself as a product rather than a company that makes products.

Their ad hoc marketing campaign has gone viral, with myriad YouTube

channels, Facebook groups and Instagramers recommending Tesla off the

basis of its future profits, its future production numbers, its future factories.

The way Tesla is spoken about on these platforms sounds similar to a

soccer fanatic raving about their team in a pub. Each proclaimer will flit

around topics but avoid fundamental financial analysis. They often talk

about how good a product each electric vehicle is but almost never talk

about the profit margin nor the issues with ramping production. Estimates

are always highly optimistic and a best-case scenario.

However, this is not to say that the institutional investors were wrong

in their predictions for Tesla. Several times the company scraped past

bankruptcy with only the steadfastness of its investors keeping the

company afloat, a situation where most others would collapse. This would

have led to a scenario where most investors would lose not some, but

nearly all of their money due to the debts of the company.

But what is this new class of investors, these people who like Icarus fly so

close to the sun? To answer this we need to take the focus off Tesla for a

moment and instead turn to a company that a good deal of you probably

haven’t heard of. It’s called Robinhood and it’s one of many newly created

mobile-based trading platforms in the US bringing huge numbers of

young Americans into the stock market for the first time. Mobile-based

trading apps have been coming under fire due to their almost game-like

appearance and lack of education for their users. For instance, it’s very

easy to start trading options on Robinhood which allow the investor to

lever out their money and create scenarios where they go deeply into debt.

Several new investors have gambled (for it is far closer to gambling than

investing) away their savings, some refinancing their home loans to have

more cash, which has been lost due to the very risky nature of option

trading. There have been several stories of new investors going so far into

debt that they will likely be repaying for decades.

Options trading around Tesla only exacerbated the issue allowing

speculators to double or triple their returns over just holding the stock. But

more worrying is when the stock will begin to tip the other way. For a lot of

these investors Tesla can only go up, and they are so highly levered that if

the stock begins to fall they might lose everything they own. As of just after

the stock split, Tesla is not the golden goose anymore. This could be due to

the Fremont plant reopening in contrast to state law and spreading several

cases of coronavirus, or perhaps the cash crunch that’s hitting middle and

lower-class Americans hard, as their unemployment rate stays worryingly

high. Investors also could be getting spooked as they come into their first

recession as an investor.

In any case, this downward trend has caused Tesla to lose a huge amount

of value in the order of approximately 25% in about a week and a half.

Leverage on an options trade varies but 5x is not unusual, so a theoretical

$1,000 bet and Tesla’s 25% drop would mean that you would now be

in debt by $250. There are options trading methods that can increase

this leverage, and worse yet trading apps like Robinhood offer short

term trading loans. For an easy reference as to why leverage like this is so

impactful, the 2008 housing crisis led to a financial collapse due to overleveraged

banks. A trading app like Robinhood and individual investors

will not be able to cause anything of that magnitude, but they can easily

lever themselves into their own financial ruin especially when chasing

losses. To put this in perspective of how successful trading like this can

be, 80% of all new day traders (which is a large portion of these new

investors) will lose money, only 10% will make money and the final 10%

will just break even.

So what does the stock market of tomorrow look like with higher than ever

numbers of young people entering the market on mobile-based platforms,

listening to bad financial advice from a multitude of small influencers on

all their favourite social media platforms, or worse yet a meme? I worry

that too many new investors will be drawn to highly risky stocks like Tesla,

leveraging their cash and ultimately forgetting that stocks do not always

go up. But with interest rates lower than ever, a shrinking middle class and

the allure of getting that one lucky break, examples like Tesla will become

a shining beacon to all those who wish to pay off their home loan, student

debts or just want to get rich quick.

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Art by Kajal K

Art by Tanya Jain


Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Rasa Islam

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Winding Paths

Words by Cody B Strange

strange the things one finds inside their navel

curt, frazzled end of unending long string

I haul out yard on yard, not able

to match the yarn in hand as it’s shaking

chamber walls breathe, expand ‘til space pitch-black

guiding cord nowhere in sight, nerves shred

chamber walls breathe, contract ‘til vacuum packed

teeth itch, flee down nearest stony ingress

curt, frazzled end of unending long string

ragged naval, blueish, almost azure

to match the yarn in hand as it’s shaking

I must dig deeper, that much is for sure

ragged naval, blueish, almost azure

tether myself Theseus wrapped ‘round chair

I must dig deeper, that much is for sure

stretch my navel wider, peer in and glare

tether myself Theseus wrapped ‘round chair

inching questing hands into skin-scented black

stretch my navel wider, peer in and glare

forearms swathed as I writhe into my crack

inching questing hands into skin-scented black

head slurped greedy into cavernous mire

forearms swathed as I writhe into my crack

waist gobbled whole, path back spins thinning wire

head slurped greedy into cavernous mire

peach-fuzz light blooms, shingly antre looms

waist gobbled whole, path back spins thinning wire

tilling gaze unearths channels who mushroom

peach-fuzz light blooms, shingly antre looms

hello echoes louder than I did squeak

tilling gaze unearths channels who mushroom

each path dollies as wandering I peek

hello echoes louder than I did squeak

chamber walls breathe, expand ‘til space pitch-black

each path dollies as wandering I peek

chamber walls breathe, contract ‘til vacuum packed

guiding cord nowhere in sight, nerves shred

closing sides break body to crawl afresh

teeth itch, flee down nearest stony ingress

rock-sewn borders give way to lithe-taut flesh

closing sides break body to crawl afresh

pin-hole starlight flashes from out the void

rock-sewn borders give way to lithe-taut flesh

poor form warped and drawn, rendered man uncoiled

pin-hole starlight flashes from out the void

point shimmers to blaze, no other senses

poor form warped and drawn, rendered man uncoiled

what have I become - weeping throat-burned laments

point shimmers to blaze, no other senses

fingers meet ridge lip, no more can heart bare

what have I become - weeping throat-burned laments

eyes meet that blueish string wrapped ‘round my chair

fingers meet ridge lip, no more can heart bare

I crawl out my left eye, shake stuck head free

eyes see that blueish string wrapped ‘round my chair

to pull serpentine wriggling beneath

I crawl out my left eye, shake stuck head free

I haul out yard on yard, not able

to pull serpentine wriggling beneath

strange the things one finds inside their navel.

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Art by Alicia Sach

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Chasing Grasshoppers

An Ode to Childhood

Words by Joseph Lew

If you make your way down to the corner of the street you’ll find our

house. Everything has remained relatively unchanged since the day my

parents bought it – all the way back in 1997 – a remnant of the past

with its bleached weatherboards, battered roller blinds and geraniums

creeping unabashedly over rusty, pink gates. Neighbours have come and

gone, buildings have been torn down and bulldozed over, but my house

remains exactly the same.

Two hundred square metres of neglect sit outback. Weeds and wildflowers

mosaic between the cracked path, and sprawling grapevines and

orchard trees border the fence – plums, nectarines, almonds. It was here

that I spent many summer afternoons, running through the overgrown

grass and clover fields, chasing grasshoppers as they hopped from blade

to blade.

There was something about them with their buggy brown eyes, sleek

green bodies and long spindly legs. They jumped so carelessly, bodies

wildly contorting as they launched themselves in the air, legs splayed

behind them. I hopped after them, laughing as my fingers cupped over

the empty space they occupied moments before. They always just evaded

my reach.

We played a game of endless tag, just me and the grasshoppers. I’d chase

after them for hours upon hours, until even the cicadas stopped their

singing.

*

The transition was subtle –there’s no specific moment in time I can

pinpoint. The trees hinted at it, shedding their leaves as the monarchs

began to make their journey east. Every so often, I heard the chirruping

of the grasshoppers, and scanned the grass for signs of their veracity. But

they too, had started to leave. Eventually, I stopped searching for them

altogether.

This house doesn’t feel like home anymore, not for a long time.The walls

are starting to crack, the paint is peeling. It feels empty, hollow. Swaths

of ivy choke out the plum trees, and the nectarines haven’t borne fruit

in years. There’s nothing left for me here. Hell, even the grasshoppers

know that.

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Art by Kat Kennedy

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Art by Alicia Sach


Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Art by Kajal K

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Art by Kathy Lee


Lot’s WifeEdition Five

Special thanks to all

our contributors!

Writers

Anonymous

Ariel Horton

Cody B Strange

Eliot Walton

Eva Scopelliti

Grace Baldwin

Greg Hunt

Isabella Burton

Jessica McCarthy

Joseph Lew

Juliette Capomolla

Lordy May

Maiysha Moin

Meg Ruyters

Milly Downing

Natalia Zivcic

Riya Rajesh

Sarah Bartlett

Sumaya. F

Tatiana Cruz

Tiffany Forbes

Tingnan Li

Xenia Sanut

Artists

Alicia Sach

Chan

Georgia B

Jayden Crozier

Joshua Nai

Kajal K

Kat Kennedy

Katrina Young

Linda Chen

Linzie Joanne

Maria Chamakala

Mel

Rasa Islam

Ruby Comte

Shrusti Mohanty

Tanya Jain

Tatiana Cruz

Yesha

Subeditors

Alexis Bird

Anagha Raviprasad

Anna McShane-Potts

Anvita Nair

Dinithi Perera

Evelyn Chan

Jasmine Tran

Jie Yee Ong

Joseph Lew

Louise Blair-West

Mish Kumar

Olivia Shenken

Ruth Ong

Sanjana Surawala

Sarah Hult

Xenia Sanut

Yanchao Huang

To contribute to Edition Six, submit your work to the relevant Google

form.

Written submissions: bit.ly/lwed6wri

Visual submissions: bit.ly/lwed6vis

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...until next time

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