I've just arrived in Perth after an amazing week in Adelaide, and although I will be posting all about my time there at a later date, I first wanted to talk about the worst part of my trip. It's been praying on my mind ever since Saturday night and the more I tell people about what happened, the less I understand how it could possibly have happened. To put it in context, I have travelled all over the world solo to countries considered dangerous and unsafe for a girl to travel by herself. I've been stranded at the side of the road in Vietnam and Laos, I've been in seemingly dodgy tuk-tuk rides in Thailand and Cambodia, I've been lost in Hungary. But not once have I ever felt so unsafe in the middle of a city in a Westernised country, surrounded by people and with police patrolling the streets.
So what happened?
I was visiting a good friend of mine, who I met when I was in Asia, but sadly he had to work all week. Our one time to really hang out was Saturday night when we went out for dinner and drinks with his friends, and the Sunday when we had planned to go on a tour of the wineries. We went out for dinner as planned and then had drinks and found a place we could have a dance, eventually we all decided to call it a night. We didn't want to be too wrecked for the next day so we decided to get a taxi home, on the way my friend wanted to show me Adelaide Oval so we took a detour to the taxi rank. As soon as we wandered down the side street, three lads looked over and shouted "slut" at me, naturally my friend told them to leave me alone.
You would have thought that would be the end of it since they were just teenagers, but if anything it spurred them on. Suddenly, all three of them launched themselves at us. My friend pushed me out of the way and I hit the deck, but all of them, plus another five lads who appeared out of nowhere went for him. Now my friend is probably around twice or three times my bodyweight, he's a wall of pure muscle and soon to be a personal trainer. He's not someone you pick a fight with, but when you're drunk and eight guys attack you out of nowhere, there's little you can do to stop them. After they all threw their punches and ran off, he was left with a huge lump on his head, a busted nose with blood pouring all over his clothes and the street, swollen lips and cuts and scratches. It was horrible.
But the worst thing?
I can appreciate that it all happened so quickly that perhaps people didn't have time to react, but not one single person tried to jump in and help. Not one except me, I'm sure I would have just ended up hurt too so it's probably a good thing a guy dragged me back, but at least my basic instinct was to help someone who was in danger. Afterwards, I took my friend across the street to get help, I walked into a shop to ask if the guy in there had any tissues or could help at all. He just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I could buy a packet of tissues. If this is the reaction a girl covered in blood gets on a Saturday night, it's disgusting. I managed to steal tissues from a takeaway in the end and then on our way to jump into a taxi, I saw the police.
I headed across the road to tell them what had happened and they proceeded to interview my friend, despite the fact that he had no idea what had happened. They wouldn't listen to what I had seen as a witness, we had to force them to listen when I could identify one of the lads who attacked my friend. It was terrible to see firsthand how little the police really care in Australia when it comes to a brutal attack like that on a busy street with witnesses everywhere, compared to traffic policing. It didn't even seem to matter that much to the police that several other people were attacked immediately after, the lads went on a rampage up the street beating up three guys in suits, and several other small groups further along. It was clear they were just out to hurt people that night, it didn't matter about race, gender or sexuality for once, but it did matter if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So why am I writing about this?
Therapy mainly, this is my way of making peace with the incident even though I'm still really upset that this could happen in the middle of a well-policed Australian city. It was the most brutal, vicious, nasty attack I have seen firsthand, done in cold blood and for the stupidest reason. My friend was beaten to a pulp for trying to protect me from being verbally abused, he poured blood on the street because he was a gentleman and a good person. He is the kind of person who wouldn't hurt a fly despite being more than capable, and it makes me incredible sad to think there are people out there who would take advantage of that simply for kicks.
I'm not naive enough to think this doesn't happen anywhere in the world, but I do think that things like this shouldn't be happening to innocent people just trying to make their way home in Adelaide. Perhaps nothing could have been done to stop this from happening, but the complete lack of support and help we were shown after the incident was an embarrassment to the police service in South Australia and the local people who refused to help us. Bad things happen, there's nothing we can do about that, but we can do something about the way we react and support those who are victims. The same thing happened in the Bourke Street incident in Melbourne - so many preferred to stand and watch, or record on their phones than actually help those in need. It really is heartbreaking to think that human instinct for so many has become a spectator's sport instead of a desperation to help preserve human life.
Wow, this ended up being quite a long post. Apologies if you're bored reading this but well done for making it to the end, I know it's very different to my normal posts. But the important thing for me is to show both sides of travelling - the fun, exciting side and the scary side as well. Don't take this as a warning not to travel to Adelaide - my friend said himself it's the first time in his whole life that he has seen an incident like this there. As far as I'm concerned this could have happened anywhere in the world and it sounds much like what happened every Saturday night at home. But what really got to me was the way people just didn't seem to care - don't be that person.
I haven't posted in a while. I'll be honest and say I've just been working so much and haven't had time to sit and write, but it's not just that, I've lost my motivation a bit lately. While my life is almost full to bursting with exciting stories to tell, I'd kind of hit a wall with inspiration. It happens every now and again, life gets busy and gets in the way of writing, but when it happens I don't try and fight it because I know that I'll always regain my mojo in the end, it just takes time. You can't force yourself to be inspired and to write beautiful things, it comes naturally or not at all. While I was struggling to express the beautiful sides of life through this blog, something awful happened, something painful and sad and devastating. I may have been struggling with the words to express the happier situations in my life, but once I started typing my feelings of anger and hurt at the dangerous assault on my favourite city and it's people last week, the words just wouldn't stop.
For those who don't know what happened, on Friday five people including a baby boy died in a horrific incident in Melbourne's busiest shopping centre. A man went on a rampage around the city after allegedly stabbing his brother, mowing people down with his car and leaving 31 people in hospital. For those who were around the shopping centre at the time - including myself and several friends of mine - it was a scary, confusing and devastating experience. I was just about to start work and was walking past the incident as around 20-30 police cars went tearing along the tramlines in the pedestrianised areas to try and stop the man. Police helicopters were circling and police were screaming at onlookers to get away as quickly as possible. Luckily I worked nearby so I could find shelter in the hotel, at this point we had no idea what had happened with vague reports of a shooting/stabbing and a lot of misinformation. My first fear when I saw the police reaction was that it could be a bomb or some kind of terrorist attack, lack of information put this fear straight into my mind.
But I don't want to dwell too much on what happened, instead I want to focus on what really horrified me that day. While the man's actions were terrifying and have left the whole city unnerved, it was the actions of the onlookers that really showed me a dark side of humanity. As I ran up the street towards work I was dodging between people who preferred to stand on their phones recording every second of the incident, ignoring police advice to move to safety and choosing instead to share it on social media. A friend of mine was right in the middle of the incident and dived straight into help the injured people - he was brave and selfless in that moment, ending up covered in blood and just grateful he could help stop the bleeding from a man's head injury. He was kind and patient despite his fears for his own safety and I find that incredibly inspiring. As with all the people who stepped up and helped save lives or to protect their fellow man that day - the ones who stopped and cared. My friend has since received word that the man he helped is safe and recovering in hospital.But less inspiring was the man who stood right behind my friend and videoed the whole thing - instead of helping to stop the bleeding and to tend to those who were seriously injured he preferred to stand there and capture what was happening. I know we live in a modern age where camera phones open up the world to all of us to be the journalists and to share every bit of news at a flick of a button. But just as I always felt uncomfortable reporting the news from a desperate situation when I felt I could be helping to ease the pain and suffering of others, I find it disgusting that people would prioritise social media sharing and Snapchatting attacks on mankind over helping to save lives. Have we really reached a point where sharing an experience is more important that protecting a human life? While this experience may have inspired me to write about my anger and pain, I still don't see how sharing it could ever be more important than protecting lives. Since Friday, countless people have flocked to Bourke Street Mall to lay flowers and messages of strength, love and compassion. This really makes you see the other side of humanity - the warmth that helps the world to move on and heal after such an incident.
It's times like these when people need to put down their smart phones and to come together, because that's what is really important. The love you feel from the other side of the world when friends and family message to check you are okay, the love you share when your best friend's safety is your first thought as an incident happens, the love you feel from co-workers who rant and cry and understand the pain of others. It's so easy to get caught up in the modern world we live in and to forget to break it down to the most basic and most important things - those around us who make our lives worth living, those individuals whose lives and presence we treasure more than anything. After hearing about the death of a Lynn legend - Juggling Jim - back at home, it shows more than ever the love for this character. The outpourings of sadness on social media at his death, he brought light into the lives of others and will be sadly missed. His spot on Lynn High Street will never be filled and his memory will be treasured.
I was too busy to write this post last week, but it's been playing on my mind ever since and I've now actually delayed another post to share this with you guys today. Those of you who don't follow many blogs might not be aware of the scathing column written by Independent journalist, Chloe Hamilton, about the nation's number one blogger and vlogger, Zoella. This attack came completely out of the blue, and interestingly at a time when Zoe Sugg is at the top of her game, winning awards, becoming a charity patron, launching a beauty range and more. Perhaps more to do with attracting attention than actually making a valid comment? Zoe has the amazing success most bloggers dream of and aspire to. She is a beautiful young girl, both inside and out, who vlogs to share her experiences and struggles with anxiety with others, creating a support network for teen girls across the world. Pretty amazing for a 24-year-old! With over six million subscribers on her YouTube channel, she must be doing something right and is nothing short of an inspiration to a lot of us.
I'm sure you can already tell I disagree with the column, but my concern is not so much the viewpoint of the writer, but the fact that she felt the need to be so nasty while making her point. Chloe is welcome to feel that Zoella reinforces certain stereotypes and perhaps doesn't represent the "typical" view of feminism - but where is the need to describe her as "the latest creation spat out by the YouTube machine" or slate her "brand of sickly sweet girl power"? And what is the "typical" view of feminism anyway? There are so many stereotyped ideas of a "typical feminist" that I wonder how anyone could say what a feminist looks, speaks and acts like. This column is pure nastiness and really just embarrasses both the Independent and the "journalist" behind it, who quite frankly both appear to have published the piece to stir up reaction and page views. Well I'm sure it has worked, considering the reaction from countless bloggers and vloggers across Facebook and Twitter, and I hate to give the article the time of day because I know it just gives the writer what she wants. But I'm more concerned with the greater cost to "feminism".Too many already consider feminism a joke - a way to justify beating down men at every opportunity, to not conform to society expectations, to just kick up a fuss at every given opportunity - I've seen and heard these views given several times over the years. They don't understand that in its purest form feminism means "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes". The reason they don't understand this? Well, because feminism has become a bit of a fashion statement, I'm not saying everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but all too often I am seeing women using feminism as an excuse for their behaviour, when actually there is no excuse. I'm not talking about those who are campaigning, who stand up for those who are mistreated because of their gender - those who are underpaid, treated with no respect, or even abused simply because they are women. These are the good feminists, the true feminists who are paving the way for women. They are the inspiration to us all to follow their lead and do the same, to stand up and say something when we see real-life sexism and inequality.
I'm talking about those who are using "feminism" as an excuse to slate successful women and who use their own medium, whether blogging, writing, vlogging, "journalism", social media or something else, in an attempt to bring them down or leech off their fame. I've seen a few examples of this recently, a couple over Twitter that were indirectly attacking a woman seemingly out of jealousy because she was successful and yet they felt the need to attack her looks and the way she dressed, and the way she wrote. How sad. No matter how indirectly you dress it up, we all know who you're talking about, and honey, it doesn't make them look bad - that's all on you.This latest attack by Chloe Hamilton is far worse because it targets not only Zoe's success - which has caused her to become an inspiration for millions of teen girls. But it also launches an assault on how she has made her living - I just struggle to understand how a young woman who has found a hobby that she loves and turned it into a huge career through hard work can be seen as anything less than inspirational. Although many may not realise it, blogging is hard work - it takes up a huge portion of your life and is a massive commitment. You spend hours each week writing posts, videoing them, shooting pictures, brainstorming ideas. We do it because we love it, but as a professional journalist, an editor and a blogger, I can say I spend a lot of time perfecting my posts and I know others are the same. So the fact that Zoe has dedicated so much of her time to creating a brand, to promoting it, to working with her viewers and communicating with them is no mean feat. And the fact that for a long time she wouldn't have been getting paid for any of it - just shows what a hard worker she is.
My next question is why does Chloe Hamilton hate Zoe so much for enjoying make-up, for trying out hairstyles and for liking getting dressed up? Since when has any of this stuff meant you are any less of a feminist? I love make-up, fashion, getting my hair done and styling it, not because it makes me pretty for men to look at, but because I enjoy the process of treating myself. But I also love equality, I love that my gender does not prevent me from getting an education, that it doesn't have to hold me back from certain career paths and I hate that there are women out there who are preyed on because of their gender, who are raped and attacked and persecuted. Isn't that the essence of feminism? Not what lipstick I've put on today. Or the fact that we choose to wear lipstick at all.
Chloe needs to try watching Zoella's videos about her anxiety and feeling confident in your own skin, she represents and covers all these important issues alongside beauty and hair - that doesn't mean she is going back on what she has said. Instead she gives us the boost we need and represents the girl-next-door, showing that everyone struggles with confidence and fears, but that it's okay and that we don't have to worry. She then gives girls the techniques and the tips so they can do make-up and hair well if they need it to boost their confidence or make them feel better individually, not for men.
Perhaps Chloe needs to spend a day in a high school to understand that the majority of teen girls want to learn about make-up and hair, they want to feel pretty and confident. I was a real bookworm at school and loved spending time with my friends, but that doesn't mean I didn't want to get dressed up as well. Zoella isn't playing on insecurities of youths, she is talking about her passions and her loves and they are obviously shared by girls across the world or she wouldn't have such an enormous following.Taking a quick look at the bigger picture here, something that Chloe seems to have missed. When Zoe is encouraging teen girls to enjoy innocent hair and make-up tutorials, or videos about anxiety and coping with it - shouldn't we be grateful that all these millions are tuning into her videos? All that time they spend watching them is another few minutes they are not watching and idolising "celebrities" like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and the rest of the women who feel the need to take their clothes off or dance provocatively while aiming their music at teen audiences. Zoe Sugg is making a credible difference to young audiences already because she respects herself, she is a successful woman who has forged a career in an industry that is only just beginning and she is a real girl, who doesn't have a team of make-up artists and retouching equipment that makes her seem perfect. She isn't afraid of her imperfections, she just finds ways to live with them and be happy with them.
Sorry this has ended up being such a long post, but I think it is something that really needs to be said. Women need to stop attacking each other and instead look at the real problems. Green is a terrible colour on some people and jealousy is a nasty emotion. Isn't it time we all started building each other up and being proud of our success stories? I'm happy and lucky to have a fantastic group of women as my friends, all strong feminists with big personalities who support and encourage each other to the bitter end. And the blogging community has been such a warm and welcoming place full of words of encouragement, congratulations at every small success and generally a huge amount of support at every stage of the game. We all believe in equality and women's rights, otherwise we wouldn't be voicing our opinions on the internet, creating these little spaces for our voices to be heard. THAT belief, THAT support and THAT passion is what we are proud of and what we love about blogging. That is what we should focus on and that is the future.
What did you think of the Independent column? What do you think about the Mean Girls who are calling themselves feminists?