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April 29, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – Identity

Welcome back from the break, we hope that you made the most of your seven days off—you can take it from us, it’s all downhill from here. The remaining six weeks of this trimester will fly by in a blur of essays, tutorial assignments, and in-class pop quizzes that you forgot to prepare for. At least Salient will still be here, every Monday, to keep your spirits high—even on the days you realise that it’s colder inside your flat than out.

On a side note, thank you to those who have filled in the Salient Readership Survey so far—if you haven’t yet, head to facebook.com/salientmagazine and fill out the quiz before Friday 3 May for your chance to win one of two $50 vouchers to the Hunter Lounge.

Our first response to the Readership Survey requested that we print “more horny”, and although we giggled at first, we get it—we all want a good root now and then.

We’re sexual beings. It can be hard to abstain from that fact, bombarded with songs about getting your freak on, and advertising that taps into raw lust. The internal hormonal drives to reproduce or fall in love with people can be a terrifying rollercoaster, and while they can provide us with some incredible highs, these emotions are often also tied into our worst memories. But if you were to throw in issues around gender, sexual identification, and the fear of being persecuted just for wanting to pash someone that society thinks you shouldn’t—is it any wonder queer youth have disproportionately high rates of suicide and mental health issues?

Fortunately, little by little, we are changing our ways, and making life a lot more normal for those who have always felt they weren’t.

The recently passed Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act may be the first piece of legislation that has got you interested in politics. The first piece of legislation that made you share a status, retweet, write to a politician, or march in the streets. The first piece of legislation that meant much more to you than just a piece of paper. The first piece of legislation which will actually improve your life, or at least that of someone you know.

It means a lot more and a lot less to a lot of people.

For Stella, it means she can let her heart (and wish for pashes) go after whoever the fuck she wants. Because regardless of gender, and despite a fear of commitment, she could, one day, maybe, if she’s lucky, get married.

For Molly, it makes her reluctant inner patriot burst with pride, and reminds her why she enrolled in her Law degree all those years ago—to effect the change she hopes to see in the world. Or something.

As New Zealanders, we don’t have a particularly long cultural history, so we have to cling on to the things that hold us together. But while we may not have castles, national dishes, or even a written constitution, we have always had a strong sense of doing that which is right, and that which is fair. We were the first country to give women the vote in 1893; allowed immigrants and settlers a chance to get ahead in our ‘classless society’, and although there are ongoing race relations issues that we need to address, we should admire the fact that we openly acknowledge these issues and are continuing to work together to build a diverse Aotearoa that we can all be proud of. Kia ora, New Zealand, kia ora.

But we mustn’t become complacent. As a generation of New Zealanders who have grown up in a society that is becoming more and more equal, it is up to us to ensure that this trend continues. Casual racism, sexism, homophobia and prejudices lurk in the darkest corners of our psyche; in our playgrounds, on our Stuff.co.nz comment boards. Equality doesn’t stop here.

In a lot of ways we will be the first generation whose life is worse off than our parents; we carry with us intergenerational debt and student loan debt—not to mention the burden of supporting an ageing population. It won’t always be easy, but in forging the path ahead, we need to make sure that none of us get left behind. As MP Maryan Street said at the third reading of the Marriage Equality Bill, “Our actions here must always be about the future. We leave this world to others, especially our young people. Let us make it a better, fairer, kinder place than we found it.”

 

Mum & Mum

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About the Author ()

Molly McCarthy and Stella Blake-Kelly are Salient Co-Editors for 2013, AKA Salient Babes.

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