Gippslandia #10 - Community Change Department. - The good fight.

The good fight.

Even from Buln Buln, you can post a tweet and then score yourself an internship at one of New York City’s inspiring progressive start-ups.

Meet Meghan Wright, a social justice campaigner, student, Monash University’s Women’s Officer and a disco-loving redhead. Through her itch for ‘something more’, Meghan’s tweet led her to a recent stint overseas, interning with Make Love Not Porn (MLNP). Meghan’s return home has revived her connection to Gippsland and provided a bucketful of inspiration for practical social change.

Explain what you’re passionate about.
Feminism, yes that dirty word denoting the equality of the sexes. That is something I want to fight for. A cause (at least for now) that I want to dedicate my life to.

Why? Because I want my little brother to grow up in a world where having a wide range of emotions, and empathy, are celebrated qualities for men. Because I want my sister to grow up knowing she doesn’t have to dumb herself down in order to protect men’s egos. Because I want young girls around the world to be given the same opportunity to go to school as their male counterparts. Because I want domestic violence in Australia to be taken seriously by our whitewashed, predominantly male government. Because I want women of colour and non-binary people to have just as much of a platform to speak on these issues as me.

We all deserve to live in a world where every voice is heard and every person is treated with respect and dignity.

Considering we both grew up in Gippsland, as teenagers it felt limiting that topics around feminism weren’t being explored. Do you think there has been a shift in that?
My teenage years were not all fraught. I had some incredible mentors in my final year of school: Ian Maud, my biology teacher, and Natalie Belis, my literature teacher. They both taught me the power of hard work, believing in yourself and that girls can do anything. They encouraged me, and I probably wouldn’t be the ‘loudmouth feminist’ I am today without their support. Never underestimate the power of a good teacher!

I see some aspects of Gippsland that are changing and others that aren’t.

Recently, my sister got laughed at by some boys in a class for calling herself a feminist. However, I see more and more people that grew up here using social media to call out bad behaviour and be advocates for change, or just stating they are for equality.

What does social media mean to you in terms of your passion?
Social media is an amazing platform to engage with so many people. As long as it’s used correctly, it can create respectful dialogues on difficult issues, and help educate people about things personally and professionally.

I recently spoke on my Instagram account about sexual harassment from a personal perspective. I only ever shared these stories with close female friends before. I never spoke to my guy friends about it, and I wanted to tell them about my experience to help create a dialogue of honesty and education. That post engaged with over 800 people, and so many people of all genders messaged me to share similar stories.

Social media is the new place to start a revolution.

Why is it important for you to continuously hold conversations around these issues, and how can someone have that confidence to do so too?
I don’t find constantly sharing my opinion easy. Sometimes it’s draining. Roxane Gay’s book Bad Feminist taught me that that’s okay, you don’t always have to be ‘on’. You don’t always have to be advocating.

My advice would be to lean into your moments of confidence. Listen to when you’re feeling the need to communicate something important. Go ask ten friends if they think (honestly) it’s a good thing to share. 99.9% of the time they will back you up and give you the confidence that you didn’t have on your own. That’s what I do. What are friends for, if not to feed your soul and occasionally your ego?

I was scared to post on my Instagram account about my sexual harassment experience. I was worried people would think I was attention seeking or overreacting. I couldn’t have been more wrong; I received around a hundred messages of support and stories of similar experiences.

How did you end up interning there at Make Love Not Porn?
I tweeted “@cindygallop I love your company @mlnp. It is ground breaking. I would love an unpaid internship” And she tweeted me back — I was staggered!

It happened after listening to Cindy Gallop’s TED talk on her company through a podcast by Creative Mornings Melbourne. I was blown away by her passion, honesty and creative initiative.

For those of you who are not familiar with the company, it is a social sex sharing platform. In the words of Cindy, it is “Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference”.

What does MLNP explore?
It is the world’s first user-generated, human-curated social sex video-sharing platform. It’s celebrating #realworldsex as a counterpoint to porn, with the aim of socialising sex and making it easier for everyone to talk about.

This is to promote good sexual values and good sexual behaviour. In my opinion, it is an incredible approach to dismantling elements of rape culture.

Can you tell me a highlight and something you’d love to see happen back here in Melbourne, or even in Gippsland?
Outside of interning, I got to know many other inspiring people working in ‘taboo’ industries. People doing important, fun work to champion women’s pleasure and empower individuals to communicate well, and also men who are creating spaces for other men to talk about why they need feminism and how better to understand their desires.

I met people who work for companies like Babeland, Unbound Babes, OhNut, Discerning Dick, TalkTabu, Planned Parenthood and so many others. A similar sextech industry does not exist in Australia, let alone Melbourne or Gippsland. One day I would love for it to exist, but we need baby steps. So I’d love to see, and even help create events that focus on discussing these kinds of issues.

What do you think needs to be done to help improve youth being involved in these conversations?
I think the best place to start with these issues is to start generating a diverse, inclusive dialogue around them. The problems begin in high school, an environment neglecting progressive change and supporting growth. I would love to see schools recognising that they have a responsibility to deliver progressive sex education and create an open dialogue with real youth-related issues.

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