Women’s Soccer Changed My Life

Belatedly posting this here considering the FIFA Women’s World Cup is over, but I wrote for Daily Life about my experiences with community women’s sport. I wanted to write personally about how valuable I had found joining a women’s soccer team, despite having no interest in being a sports spectator (or audience as I often clumsily call them). But I asked friends to weigh in via Facebook and I was inundated with amazing comments, so my article is largely the thoughts of others, collated by me. For the sake of word count, I couldn’t get everything in to the article (which you can read here) but I’ve added a few that missed the cut below. Also, an hilarious video by the Norwegian Women’s Football Team. Or Club. Or Guild. Or whatever you call sportsing clusters of humans.

Celebrating a win“I decided to join after my second year of uni had taken a real toll on me and I was struggling with really bad anxiety and stress. It was probably the first thing I had ever done for myself that was entirely my decision. Sport had never been something I had autonomously decided was for me, so I never felt like it resonated in my youth. Playing soccer at 20 was very different to playing soccer at 13. I was growing, learning and enjoying what I was doing. I was reliving that feeling you have as a kid when you would go out and play in the park until you were exhausted but completely elated. I have realised that team sports and the feeling of being a part of something bigger than just myself motivates me in ways that dancing or going to the gym never have. Sport has absolutely changed my life in such a positive way, I only wish I discovered I enjoyed it when I was a shy teen.” – Elle

“I liked being a complete beginner at something again, and learning with other adults who were as bad at dancing as I am. And making new friends was a bonus. Netball was a bit more competitive and rough, and I was more conscious of my lack of ability. But as long as the team I played with didn’t care if we won or were brutally thrashed, I always enjoyed it.” – Yvette

“Joining the bats at 22 led to a big life change for me. I hated sports at school, and was never encouraged to do it. Being surrounded and supported by a fantastic group of diverse women was the first time I’d actually felt comfortable enough to just play, and to know I wasn’t going to be the best, and that it wasn’t a problem. I went from never exercising to someone that exercises 5-6 times a week, and it’s been hugely important for my mental and physical health.” – Julia

“Played all sorts of sports as a child, was crap at them all except maybe walking. Watched soccer forcibly as a child via the only TV in the house dominated by english premier League, my only concern was how high my cat was playfully launched in to the air by my brothers as a goal was scored. Joined sydney Women’s Baseball League in 2005 as I needed to widen my circle of friends as a new person to sydney. It took me 15 minutes to hit the training ball from the T stand in the first training session. Needless to say I spent some time on the bench\outfield. I thought “I’m never going to get laid” so plan B was to run the league for several years, which I did. Made 90% of my close friends in the 8 years I was involved in the League, it was a great avenue in to volunteering in other areas of the community and Still think fondly of the hours I spent alone in the outfield.” – Warner

Don’t ask me if I’ve lost weight; I haven’t.

I wrote an article for Daily Life about why I don’t consider ‘Have you lost weight?’ to be a compliment (even when it’s meant as such) and it seems to have hit a nerve with lots of people because it’s been shared more than anything I’ve ever written.

You can read it by clicking above and you can also listen to me talk about it on Radio National’s Life Matters program this Friday July 24th from 9am.

Happy Birthday to one of my Mums

Teresa and MaeveToday is my mother, Teresa’s 60th birthday. She’s an excellent parent, friend and mentor, and her party on Saturday night was so good people left the gig upstairs to crash our shindig and boogie to my brother Rowan’s excellent playlist. The party theme was Mods vs Rockers and Teresa rapped her thank you speech (complete with backing track) chronicling her life’s highlights & challenges. There was weird dancing. Where Teresa goes, there’s always weird dancing. Following the speech she shared celebratory tequila shots with a couple of her kids and the young people who’ve lived at her house.

My sister Grainne and her partner Hayden made 6 different cakes! A rainbow layer cake. Orange almond cake. Flourless chocolate cake. Passionfruin sponge. Baked cheesecake with toffeed blueberries. You haven’t lived til you’ve bitten into a fresh blueberry encased in hard toffee. Holy shit. The bar tab had no rules so my sister smashed a shit-ton of martinis, we tried to do acrobatics then fell down.

My brother DJed an excellent mix of Dolly Parton, Blondie, 60s & 70s hits with a smattering of stuff too cool for me to recognise. He responded well to our chants of ‘MORE BRITNEY’. He and I performed a medley of songs about England Teresa sang while we were growing up. My Old Man’s A Dustman was particularly well-received, as was Jerusalem.

Testament to their maturity, growth and love for their children, my other Mother, Louise was also at the party (they split 10 years ago). She could be found on the dancefloor with her top off. When I suggested she put it back on her mate Dinah flashed me her boobs in protest. Bear in mind both Louise and Dinah were designated drivers. aka sober.

My mum’s friend, Mystery, who used to be lead singer of a feminist punk bad took the stage for a surprise song then hauled my brother up for a duet. Viv, my ex-girlfriend who lives like a fairy in Teresa’s backyard, took photos.

The party was packed with wonderful people and joy, all a testament to the community Teresa has built over her 60 years. The moral of this story? I love my family, Happy Birthday Teresa, here’s to many more. xxx

Read her 55Upitty profile. She taught me that if people aren’t telling your story, you better tell it yourself: http://55upitty.com/2012/04/18/teresa/

Drop dead Fred, my family is worth 1000 of you

Last week I was in the audience for the Q&A special that aired following the documentary about Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Between a Frock and a Hard Place. I asked a question but it went very much unanswered by the entire panel, especially notorious homophobe, Fred Nile. My question was meant to be one of positivity and progress, about how our community can share the best of our experiences with mainstream society. Unsurprisingly, this went over his head and, if I am honest, I don’t think the rest of the panel addressed it well either.

So, I decided to answer the question myself, and Daily Life were kind enough to publish my thoughts on the matter. Read my article, What Fred Nile can learn from my queer family, here.

As an aside, I had started writing an article about the experience of sitting in the audience for LGBTQ&A. I was going to write about the Nile supporters in the audience who radiated hate, about sitting next to and around people who hate my ‘lifestyle,’ about how angry I felt watching the panellists have to listen respectfully while Nile (and questioners in the audience) said such awful things.

The Daily Life editor encouraged me to focus not on my hurt and anger but on the original premise of my question, on what positive things children from queer families can offer the wider community. As an emerging writer, working with editors who help me take my writing to the next level is a privilege. For that, I am very grateful.

Here’s a photo of one of my Mothers and I reacting to Nile:

Maeve Marsden Teresa Savage Q&A

Please support The Social Outfit!

The Social Outfit is a wonderful Newtown social enterprise that offers employment and training to refugee and new migrant communities. They do amazing work (and make stunning clothes) and they’re currently crowdfunding the next phase of their growth. I implore you, please go check out their ING Dreamstarter page and consider chucking some dollars their way.

Crowdfunding is hard and this is such a worthy project doing such important work. Please support them.

I said this at length in a feature article about The Social Outfit on Daily Life.TheSocialOutfit_Hero_web

Who ever thought I’d write about wedding fashion?

Assumptions about gender and clothing are always frustrating, especially for those who break away from expected norms. I wrote about how ideas about gendered clothing play out when two women get hitched for Daily Life. I also got to put lovely pictures of my friends in!

But who decides how men and women should dress and look? Is there an arbitrary points system that defines whether someone is feminine or masculine? Flat shoes? 2 points to masculine. Long hair? 3 points to feminine. A bow-tie? 1 point to masculine. Earning 75 cents to the dollar of your male counterparts? Ding, ding, ding, you win the woman-prize!

 

If we’ve learnt anything about gender in recent years, surely it’s that there’s much more to it than ‘man’ and ‘woman’. Could we finally, once and for all, allow individual human beings to define their own gender and dress in whatever they like without comment?

The George Brandis Live Art Experience

Some bloody genius is protesting Brandis’ arts cuts by getting people to photoshop old Georgie’s face onto art works. They tend to be either hilarious or terrifying and you should check them out on facebook and twitter. We made our very own contribution to the campaign, below. For more information, visit bit.ly/freethearts