As part of our ongoing blog series, we will be sitting down and have conversations with a number of advocates in our local community. This week we speak to Siân Tooker from Children by Choice.
What is your name and role?
Siân Tooker, Counsellor, Children by Choice
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve worked in the social and community services sector since leaving uni. Every day I’ve learned more about the great strength and survival skills that many people need just to live their lives each day, and about the enormous individual and systemic barriers they face. Things like racism, ableism, ageism, sexism and misogyny, mental health issues, discrimination, trauma and violence, poverty, barriers to education and opportunity…
I aspire to a society where we look after each other, where we achieve genuine social justice. I see the intersection of so many of these issues in my work as a pro-choice counsellor, where women and pregnant people are frequently discriminated against and silenced.
Are you a feminist and what does feminism mean to you?
Yes, and an intersectional feminist. I don’t have one personal experience that has led me to feminism, rather an accumulation of experiences both lived and observed that has led me here. For me, feminism means recognising that we live in patriarchal society, and the inequalities and harm that flow from that. Feminism also provides a pathway forward to addressing those inequalities, like increasing access to education and opportunity, and breaking down rigid gender roles and stereotypes.
What do you think is the most pressing social problem today (globally)?
This is a very difficult question to answer. The disparity between those who have wealth, opportunity and access to education and those who do not is massive and growing. There are so many other issues however… The terrible rates of men’s violence against women, including sexual violence, torture and murder, remain high. The high rates of child abuse and the removal of children into care, including First Nations children, are also cause for significant concern.
If there was one resource you think everyone should view, what would it be?
This is also a difficult question to answer.
Rather than identify one key resource, I would suggest that people listen with an open mind to the experiences of others, reflect on their own values systems, and to read widely, for example, the articles of Celeste Liddle, ‘Fight Like a Girl’ by Clementine Ford, and ‘The Fictional Woman’ by Tara Moss. The TED talk by Jackson Katz is important viewing regarding men’s violence against women and how we talk about it. There is a saying I quite like: “listen to everyone, think for yourself.” Obviously you don’t have to listen to everyone, however it does suggest how important it is to open your mind to what’s around you and to think for yourself.
And, rely on the best empirical research available and beware confirmation bias!