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Hi there, and welcome back to the Monthly Missive. You can save anything in here to read later in Pocket, and email me at 


Ahhh, the personal essay. It's the form of writing I love most, but people do such a shitty job with writing them that I get bummed out and swear off ever reading them again. I've come across heaps of good ones in the past month though, so here is one on a woman in her 30s struggling to quit drinking alcohol, this and one on how the financial crisis and resulting debt affected two generations of a family. Closer to home, Amy Remeikis  (a journalist who I greatly admire and respect who also loves Queensland politics as much as I do) wrote this fantastic essay about how men who rape aren't monsters or animals - they are men. A content warning there - the essay has graphic description in it about the author's rape and attempted rape. This paragraph really hit me:

"A friend told me it’s because he thought they were not men. That they were animals. “How do you even begin to reason with an animal like that?”

But he’s wrong. They are men.

They are sons and brothers, and fathers and boyfriends and husbands and friends and co-workers and the guys around you in the cafe. 

We know they are, because the few who face the justice system get character references about how they are good guys, who are good sons and brothers and fathers and boyfriends and husbands and friends and co-workers who made a mistake.

How that action isn’t the person they are. How they were drunk. And how it wasn’t rape, the girl was complicit."

Still over at the Guardian, (and a content warning again for this one with graphic description of self harm) Hannah Parkinson's essay about bipolar, the failing NHS and how "the conversation" about mental health is glib and unhelpful for anyone who doesn't have depression and anxiety is my favourite thing I've read on the subject this year. As someone who has had a broken ankle AND bipolar, I can tell you the broken ankle was much more swiftly dealt with and recovered from than any of my manic or depressive episodes.   

Two standout paragraphs: 

"We should normalise the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, of course. Normalise how important it is to look after oneself – eat well, socialise, exercise – and how beneficial it can and should be to talk and ask for help. But don’t conflate poor mental health with mental illness, even if one can lead to the other. One can have a mental illness and good mental health, and vice versa.
Rebecca Peters is a political advocate whose life work has been law reform on gun control. She was behind the law changes that tightened up Australia's gun laws in the 1990s, and is now focusing on changing things in Central and North America. She seems like a truly extraordinary person, and this profile of her in Good Weekend is a stunning read. 

I also liked this ambitious person's take on work-life balance, and this furious screed against people who call my generation entitled when really we just want the things out parents took for granted. 

I have recommended individual episodes of ABC's Background Briefing podcast at least a dozen times over the four years I've been doing this newsletter, and if it was possible for me to take out a paid subscription to them I would. At any rate, their recent episodes on people with a disability who have been murdered by their carers, and their ongoing coverage on working conditions of paramedics (as well as said paramedics stealing drugs to self-medicate) is essential. I've also been enjoying Don't Shoot The Messenger, which is hosted by Corrie Perkin and Caro Wilson, who are both legendary footy writers in Melbourne. If you've ever wanted a slightly more robust version of Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, Don't Shoot The Messenger is for you. 



Art isn't always made by good people, but this is getting ridiculous. How a Microsoft font (Calibri, to be specific) brought down a Pakistani prime minister. Recently the online journal Kill Your Darlings did a special issue of writing from the Northern Territory, and while all of it was really good, this piece about trying to stamp out the market for fake Aboriginal art was particularly informative. RIP music downloads. How the founder of Vice built and operated the company on a bluff that has lasted for a quarter of a century. That said, it is still publishing good work, like this one on how brands in Indonesia want to hire queer Indonesians for their aesthetics while ignoring their queerness and how Beyonce and Drake are doing exactly the same thing with the music of Big Freedia. On a related note, recent controversy in the RuPaul's Drag Race fandom has thrown up the thorny topic of black progress being tied to white acceptance. You might not know Jonathan Zawada's name, but you have certainly seen his art. And lots of people talk about how they'd like to write and publish a book one day, but have you ever thought about who would actually buy it? This is a rude awakening

A couple of weekends ago, my mum and brother got me onto the British sitcom Friday Night Dinner, which features Simon Bird from The Inbetweeners. It's a simple setup: two brothers in their early 20s go home for Friday night dinner with their parents every week and hilarity ensues, usually aided by their weird neighbour. The dad and the relationship between the two brothers was so like my own dad and my younger siblings I was full body cringing while laughing. 

And in case you haven't seen it yet, the new ad campaign for Stabilo highlighters is tremendous. 


I've been listening to a lot of Warpaint and TT (Theresa from Warpaint's solo project), the new Roisin Murphy, Australian singer Exhibitionist and Melbourne dream poppers IV League. I don't know how I managed to miss seeing Warpaint's video for New Song, but it is really fun. I also reviewed the TT album for The Australian last weekend (I got sent a stream for review purposes and liked it so much that I went out and bought the vinyl) , and the new Ghost album this weekend. 

I'm also closing in on the second-last month of fundraising for BCNA, so if you've been thinking "yeah yeah I'll donate to Sophie Benjamin's thing eventually", NOW is the time to do it. Click here to do it.  Also, if you're going to be in inner Melbourne next Sunday, come on down to Collingwood Bunnings, where I and my friends will be manning the BBQ for the cause. 
Copyright © 2018 Sophie Benjamin, All rights reserved.

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