Against College Policy – or Simply College Culture?

Sydney University must be so proud. In 2009, two months out of the next decade of the millennium, they’re still managing to actively foster a misogynistic sex culture on campus. How wonderfully progressive, particularly seeing as their latest stand against sexual morality has taken place on Facebook – they might be archaic in their social beliefs, but at least they’re perpetuating them with technology. It’s a step. Progress. Go you good things.

The latest embarrassment to befall a university that has long prided itself on both its age in a young country, and its academic standing, is a Facebook page titled ‘Define Statutory’ created by the bright young sparks at St Paul’s College. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, these luminaries of Australia’s future define themselves as ‘Anti-consent’ which is always a bit of a laugh, isn’t it.

The Reverend Canon Ivan Head, warden of the all-male St Paul’s College, as well as labelling the site as ‘directly contrary to stated college policies’  issued a satement saying, ‘college officers … endeavour to listen to gender based conflict or complaint(s) with compassion, insight and the capacity to refer to relevant legal authorities.’  However the outgoing master of Wesley College, a co-ed college on campus, the Reverend David Russell, ‘this is a story that has to be told. There is no question in my mind that women are seen as meat. That is the awful ugly truth of it.’ Sounds like there are some communication problems happening here.

Bloated by self importance, money and elitism, Sydney University has got to take a long, hard look at what seedy cultures they are allowing to exist within their sandstone walls. Perhaps it is time for Australia’s oldest university to simply grow up and stop seeing progress as a threat to their privileged standing. The uni, like the city it is named for, can no longer rest on a pretty face and reputation.

I know. Spoken like a true Macquarie University girl. Or, you know, like a girl who can define statutory and is pro consent. Either way.

How to be (very) Good

n58547I recently saw An Education (splendid) and walked away in awe of how the British so deftly handle subtext. Of course I walked away in awe of several other things – Carey Mulligan’s performance and inordinately expressive mouth, and the thread of excitement that pulsed through the 1960s, but the subtext was equally as awe inspiring. I also walked away with firm resolve to actually read a Nick Hornby book as, hitherto, my Hornby literary experience was limited to snatched chapters whilst babysitting (you know, you always go for the same book and re-read the same first two chapters between when the child goes to bed and the parents get home).

The book I chose was 2001’s How to be Good and it is beyond good. It’s terrific. Excellent. Incredibly funny, razor sharp, bitingly clever – everything the back cover said it would be. Forget the actual premise of the novel; it was a lesson in how to be a good writer. It’s the kind of book that seems so effortlessly insightful, you want to stick your nose into the middle of it and snort, in the desperate hope you’ll inhale some of the author’s brilliance.

How to be Good is told through the voice of Katie Carr; doctor, mother, all round conventionally good person. Except her marriage is on the way out and she’s been having an affair and the book opens with her telling her husband, David, aspiring novelist and columnist (‘The Angriest Man in Holloway) she wants a divorce. Soon after, her husband meets DJ GoodNews, a spiritual healer who cures David of his general bitterness, and together they set out to change the world one homeless  person at a time.

Good and bad, moral codes and first world guilt, idealism and reality – bit by bit, Hornby attempts to tease the strands of this almost irreparably tangled web and find, if not some sort of solution then a level of understanding. And he does it with wit and a painful incisiveness that is as uncomfortably honest as it is relatable. No preaching, no black and white versions of good and bad; just an artfully explored question that forms an innate part of the human condition.

Welcome …

… to my humble abode.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Having spent the past year editing and nurturing Trespass Magazine and loving absolutely every second of it, this blog is a chance for me to work on something more personal, something a little more stripped back. In other words, I can write about nothing but perfume, Greece and Adrian Mole and not force the poor Trespass readership to enjoy what I do.

Why A Big Life? You can find that out here. Let’s just say it’s something I am in search of, not something I can claim to have. Yet. What’s this little blog all about? Take a look at the categories to your right.

But most of all, read and then talk to me. We can all try for A Big Life together.