So Saturday is supposed to be the scheduled date for the Rapture. You know. Where all the righteous get hoovered up to heaven to leave all us sinners behind.
So who’s for sorting out parliament on Sunday and rolling out a properly left wing legislative agenda? No more crapping on about the carbon tax, no more dilly dallying: gay marriage rights, equal pay, Indigenous sovereignty, accessibility, free education, all the things that always seemed to get blocked by douchebag god botherers like Abbott et al?
May 11, 2011 Part one on the new single parent education program. My experience. Or “Do you think you deserve it?”
There’s a bit of talk around about a new pilot program the Gillard government has announced. Depending on where you read it it is assistance to help educate some of society’s most vulnerable, or a tough crackdown on welfare teens whereby payments will be withheld if teen parents do not enrol their baby in childcare at the age of one in order to go back for HSC-equivalent qualifications.
I’m slightly ambivalent about this program. I need more information and I don’t have the time to find it yet. All I can do to start thinking through what I think about it is to talk about my experience and read more and write about it later when I have time to research it more. I’m in the middle of essays, about to start cramming for take-home exams, I’ve been up at four a.m more days than not in the last two weeks, I’m working four days a week, I’m studying three legal subjects this semester, I’m raising a special needs child who got himself into the ‘selective’ (gifted and talented) stream in a nearby high school, and yes. I was a teen parent, and today was the day I could tell Centrelink I have begun to earn ‘too much’ for their support. (I expected an alarm to sound and for someone to whip around to collect my ‘pension card’ but the only message was ‘Oh well. Report again next fortnight, you might get something then’. They’ve never really grasped the concept of permanent work where the pay is the same each fortnight).
I don’t need convincing that education is the ‘silver bullet’ because I have been working hard for ten years (having to take two years off in the middle when the participation rules changed to not include education anymore) to get a double degree in Arts Law so that I wasn’t consigned to a job that bored me and never paid me enough, a job with no job security, casual work in customer service where 1 in 10 customers would treat you like dirt – the only sorts of jobs I could get when I fell pregnant as a teenager, and when my child was small. I’m not running down the people who work those jobs, though I am running down the casualisation of the workforce and the cycle of poverty and entrapment those jobs can create. At 30 I had almost NO super because of those jobs. My son is (or was, he’s much better now) a chronic asthmatic who would be hospitalised with accute attacks once or twice a year. There goes the rent for the week.
I don’t need convincing that there is hopelessness and despair in our society, or that teenage pregnancy can trap people in a cycle of poverty: not enough time to study even if the self-belief is there (it wasn’t for me until a counselor insisted I wasn’t depressed I was bored and needed to be challenged), too tired from trying to pay the bills, ground down by lack of sleep and isolation and work involving standing all day and why can’t I make it work, why can I still not pay the bills, what is wrong with me?
I don’t need convincing that there are whole areas where unemployment, drinking and teen pregnancy are huge interconnected issues. I’m also not asserting that only ‘some kinds’ of kids get pregnant early. But I grew up in areas that were pretty bleak in their outlook, areas with high unemployment and suicide rates, little money and lots of aggression, places where it was hard to ‘dream big’, where it was hard to imagine any kind of successes, where the major entertainment on offer if you didn’t have a hideout group (I spent my teenaged years at a local youth group and despite being an atheist now I will forever be grateful for the excuse to get out of the ‘beach parties’ where the boys killed ducks and gang raped drunk girls, and no I am not in any way exaggerating that) was to get shitfaced drunk at the local oval leaving girls particularly extremely vulnerable. I grew up in areas where girls were just there to stand around admiring whatever idiot thing it was the boys were doing and where boys had to prove their ‘manliness’, where my friend described sex with her long term boyfriend as feeling like a ‘stick’ in there but where she felt compelled to continue with it.
I remember reading and reading and reading as a child. I read and re-read Anne of Green Gables pining for an existence of muslin and bosom-friends, and brooks and fields and cracking slates over boys heads. I knew there was more, and different, a place where I wouldn’t always be yelled at and slapped, where people didn’t argue about stupid things, where nice things actually happened and weren’t just promised if Dad won on the horses (which he never ever did) and I had an insatiable appetite for it. But somewhere along the line I got ground down. I didn’t believe in myself or my prospects, I didn’t believe in my capacities or intelligence, I didn’t see anything around me worth aiming for. I took off to uni to escape but it lasted a year, and the wheels fell off and I thought ‘Screw it, everyone else is getting drunk and having sex and not caring, why can’t I’. Again, nothing wrong with drinking and sex per se, but when you’ve got zero self esteem it’s a road to disaster, and disaster inevitably found me.
I shacked up with the first guy I had sex with. He was a bit of a turd. I don’t know why I hooked up with him except that he looked at me with desire and that made me feel like something special. If only I’d known that at 17 most heterosexual guys were looking at me with desire I might have been a little more discerning. But I felt wanted, briefly, and that was enough. That bit didn’t last long and it got violent. I took off and hid out at a ‘half-way’ house. I met another guy there. I felt sorry for him. That was all it took in those days for me to love something. I just wanted to give sympathy because I believed it would magically ‘fix’ things and I’d seen a lot of shit I couldn’t fix and I wanted to wave my magic wand and live that different life. But well that didn’t work out so well either. Bun in the oven to a guy eight years older, with a messed up past, an inability (or unwillingness) to deal with it, and by the time my baby was born and he was drinking and taking drugs in earnest, the dawning realisation that my life was not quite turning out all ‘Anne-of-Green-Gables’
One excruciating evening I saw a ‘Kylie Mole’ Christmas ‘special’ where she was talking about what she’d been up to and I wanted to die: she was describing my life. I’d dreamed of Anne of Green Gables and woken up Kylie Mole.
There were a couple of ‘moments’ for me in my ‘Isn’t it great the child has a father and his mother isn’t on welfare‘ life. The first when I came home after a day’s work (casual of course) to find miniFPs dad motherless drunk with the music at a deafening volume. When I turned it down I heard my son screaming. I knew he’d been screaming for a long time. I saw red and threw myself at his father – all six foot six of him – I wanted to kill him, or maybe I wanted him to kill me, I certainly screamed the words I knew would make him hit me “YOU ARE THE BIGGEST FUCKING LOSER I HAVE EVER MET IN MY LIFE”. Luckily when he stood up to kick me he fell backwards through the wall.
I took my child and ran to a neighbour and shouted about How DARE he?? and I NEED TO LEAVE HIM! until her oh-so-well-meaning boyfriend convinced me that he was just drunk, and didn’t know better, and go put him to bed, that’s your job in these situations, he loves you and he loves his child, and it will all be okay in the morning. That’s how fucking malleable I had let myself become: I listened and didn’t leave.
Then one day my son was crying and I was furious with him. With him. In reality I was angry because his father was an irresponsible fuckwit and because I was the one enabling it and I’d woken up in my mother’s life juggling hard just to keep things going while your dickhead alcoholic husband continues to act like a clueless irresponsible turd and bumble his way through life glorifying his teenaged years and never fucking growing up, angry because you have to be adult enough for two and it’s a desperate, desperate life situation.
Maybe a week later? I’d gone down one morning at dickface’s request to hock something to get him more cigarettes before he went to work. The hock shop didn’t open as early as I thought and I knew I’d still be home on time so I chatted with my neighbour instead of calling (did we even have a phone line?). On our walk back I told her to leave it half an hour til he’d gone to work and then come up for a cup of tea. When I got back he launched at me as I came in the door and abused the living shit out of me. I can’t remember for what. I just remember desperately trying to get control and being worried about how I would compose myself before she came up. And there it was: I was worried about how it would look to her not about how it actually was. Something cracked and clear as a bell came the thought “I wasn’t built for this”.
I packed up and moved and I took everything I needed so I didn’t ever have to come back. We had a hired tv in my name and I took it with me because I knew he’d smash it in anger.
I didn’t hear from him for a couple of days. I knew he’d gone on a bender and somehow knew that he’d slept with a prostitute. When he finally did call the first thing he said is “Why did you have to take the tv”.
Anyway…that was the beginning of the turnaround I guess: I had to go on to parenting payment, and I moved home with my parents. I got a job at K-Mart and worked casually. It was pretty comfortable, at least compared with living with an alcoholic fuckwit you had to hide the last $20 from so you could buy nappies rather than him buying pot.
After a while though I remembered the dynamic in my family that had bothered me before I moved out and I started to see a counselor. I decided to strike out on my own – first I joined a Christian group that unfortunately was a bit like a cult and they ground me down a bit and told me I could never get married (read have sex) ever again because that’s how God viewed divorce. Then they took me on a ‘missionary trip’ and I had a bit of a meltdown when they took me to Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory when the people I was with showed a staggering lack of the compassion they claimed they had dibs on.
When I got back I decided to move out and into a rental house on my own. I figured I needed a more long term plan and went to do a course on computers: typing, basic word processing, that sort of stuff. It was about then that I found that around every period I would find myself deeply ‘depressed’ staring at the wall, unable to motivate myself to do anything. One day I confessed this to the counselor who said so insistently, with so much certainty that I was compelled to really hear it ‘You are BORED, you need to be challenged, you need an outlet for your mind’. Yes, that sounded feasible – I’d once had ambitions, once dreamed of ‘doing something with my life’.
So I went to a Uni open day and had a bit of an ‘epipha-tree’ moment (or probably it was part of my self punishing ‘Choose the hardest thing you can think of, set yourself up to fail and then punish yourself’ thing that I do) and applied for, and got into (thanks to my marks in that one year of uni) a combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws. I chose the hardest thing on offer and ran at it head first.
And now when I look back at the beginning of being a single mother it’s like a different world. Frequently I thought I couldn’t do it. I was told I wouldn’t do it by two close (ex) friends, that no-one expected me to finish. Well fuck all the no-ones, I’ll be a lawyer soon.
I needed the support from the government to strike out alone. I love my family and some things have changed but the dynamic the way it was was not going to work. Though they loved me, and they loved my son I needed to go forward and find out for myself who I was and what I wanted.
It was long and lonely and to be quite blunt I couldn’t get a fuck in like eight years. That was pretty rough. I suppose I could have if I’d tried a bit harder, but I was a Mum and it was awkward and anyway, as tough as that was well praises to your preferred deity or snackfood because it was that I think that really let me have the space to find out who I was (I’m not saying that sex would have hurt those improvements but I do think that for me I needed a lot of time alone to work out what I thought a successful enjoyable life looked like and what I wanted).
I was lucky: I’m a white girl in a world where whiteness is an asset. I was lucky in that I don’t have any hurdles to overcome in terms of learning disorders. I was lucky in that I am able bodied (although I didn’t sleep properly for about a decade and consequently I have excruciating days-long headaches, muscle aches, leg cramps etc). I was lucky in that I met people who challenged me. I was lucky in that I inherited via MiniFPs dad’s family just a small amount enough for the first term at a school that made me want to send my son there, made me fearful of the comparison with the local school in the coastal area I was in, that let me move to Sydney to live in a sharehouse filled with the people who challenged me. I was lucky: I was always able to find some kind of work to get me through. I took a chance and then another chance would seem to open up. I was lucky in that ‘book learnin’ is something I seem cut out to do.
I was lucky in so many ways and still it was the most excruciatingly hard process. It was so lonely, so isolating, so exhausting: no matter what work/study/home balance I struck I always felt I was letting someone down, failing as a parent etc. I couldn’t sleep because the work was casual and I didn’t know if I could pay the next bill. I copped attitude from my son’s schools, I copped attitude from some parents, from some students, some members of the public, and from some teachers.
As it went on it got easier I guess: when I got a permanent job rather than casual the insomnia reduced and I could focus on other things more easily. But even then I was memorably publicly humiliated when a tutor asked for an amusing ‘red-tape’ story and I said that the new participation requirements and the way they were administered meant that every few months I needed to take a day off work to go to the Centrelink office to have an interview and sign a piece of paper to say I would do less than what I was doing (not that they wanted me to decrease just that the ‘minimum’ I had to sign up for I was exceeding about threefold) so they would pay me a stipend of by then about $60 a fortnight and he stopped and stared and said “But do you think you deserve that money?”. (No, knobhead, it wasn’t a story about ‘deserving’ to get it with no hassles, it was a story about red tape, I mean seriously. We want you to do something 15 hours a fortnight: you work (in a permanent role) 30 hours a fortnight and study about ten hours a fortnight, so do you think you could take a day off and we can explain what you already know and get you to sign a declaration that you will make sure you do what you already do?).
Anyway. The point? Education has been everything. I managed to work, and I managed thereby to decrease the amount of money Centrelink paid me but it’s been education that’s helped me grow and change and find confidence and believe I will have a career and to build my child up to believe he can do anything. I know that in sole parent families they say it’s the education levels of the mother that have the biggest influence on how a child will do at school. And that’s not an ‘Aren’t I awesome’ thing, that’s an ‘I’m so grateful’ thing.
To go back to what I was saying at the beginning…no one needs to convince me that education is key. It’s just that with all my luck, with all my ‘blessings’ and strengths, it has taken every ounce of determination I possess, and the support of counselors and friends, and it’s cost me financially, socially, and in years of lost sleep: and all the while I copped the ‘YEAH: BUT DO YOU THINK YOU DESERVE IT’. I am frightened for these girls. They are being pushed into parting company with their babies at one, to get their HSC. And the HSC is not enough: they’ll need more education. And if they DO it, if they do what is considered ‘right’ they still will cop the ‘But do you think you deserve it?’ attitude. The ‘Shouldn’t you have just dropped out, accepted your lot and worked in KMart for the rest of your life so you’re not a drain on society’ line. Never mind that my education will serve the nation, never mind that their line is the more educated I am the better off my son is, never mind that I didn’t do what they expected of me and shack up with some other guy and have more children, never mind that my son’s flourishing and I have worked almost the whole time and reduced the payments made to me, never mind any of that because as a single mother you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t and the overwhelming message, whatever the choices you make will be “Yeah…but do you think you deserve it?’
So says proud douchebag Joe Francis “Girls Gone Wild” founder.
I’ve never seen his videos. I could care less to get into a debate about the relative merits of his videos, I’m not calling him a douchebag *because* he makes them (though I’m sure an extremely strong case could be made for that argument).
I was only vaguely aware of him at all until I took a study break and read this story about how four (now) women who (then girls) appeared in his videos have lodged complaints of distress, and of ostracism, ridicule and social and educational consequences of appearing in the videos. (Sounds about right: “dudes” want chicks to act like this cos PHWOAR, then everyone will punish them cos: ‘whores’*).
So, reading I am, when I get to the bit about how he represents himself in the matter (you know, not cos he’s not rich enough to afford to *hire* a douchebag lawyer to harrass these women on the stand, but because he is like super awesomely smart and knows so much SHIT right? And…because he wants. To do it. Himself.), and how the Judge holds him in contempt because he asks one of the plaintiffs if she is a prostitute (after he had been warned to tread gently with the plaintiffs in his cross-examination of them).
So okay, he’s completely a turd, I dislike him already, unsurprising, but (silver lining?) he was held in contempt (yippee). BUT THEN…
“I’m feeling fantastic,” Francis told the Panama City News Herald.
“I’m just happy it’s over. This thing has dragged on long enough.
Sounds like he’s taking things seriously, huh?
What about his attitude to being held in contempt?
“I think the judge was wrong,” Francis said.
Oh. Well okay. I mean the Judge has the years of law school, of legal practice, and is like, not only a legal expert but a JUDGE, but you make videos with boobs in them…I guess if *you* think the Judge is wrong about what constitutes contempt of court…(did I mention two women left the stand in tears?). Why is the judge wrong?
“I shook them like a tree until all the fruit fell out, and I shook them violently.”
I’d like to kick that man’s ballsack so hard his testicles popped out his ears. And generally I’m all ‘Oh, no violence. As tempting as it is’. But…OUT THE EARS I TELL YOU! So you know, he disagrees with the claims. Hire a legal representative. Oh no, no…he’d like to do the cross-examinations himself. Because he has the salient points to make! (Like “Slut!!”). And he appears to fancy himself the legal expert: representing himself, conducting cross-examination, eschewing the judge’s definition of contempt, and bragging to us all about his cross-examination finesse. And because he wants to stand there and call them lying sluts himself. They’re saying they’re traumatised, that they’ve paid a high price for being in the videos he arranges, and he decides he personally wants to ‘shake them violently’…just for the kicks. No, he’s no misogynist!
I put it to YOU Douchebag McFuck-Knuckle that you are a complete arseface with a shitty attitude to women: you’ve made your riches off getting them to get naked and ‘nutty’ but you reserve your right to infer that they are therefore worthless, lying, opportunistic whores. I mean you WANT them to be ‘crazay sexay’ but then you want to punish them and say their words count for nothing because they’re ‘crazay sexay’. And you think you’re awesome for ‘shaking women violently’. Die in hell. With your nuts popping out your ears like grotesque parodies of easter eggs.
* I’m saying in fucked up patriarchal logic, I’m certainly not saying *I* think any such thing. Cos I don’t do that ‘good girl’/’bad girl’ crap, or at least I try to catch myself out if ever I do and give myself a good talking to about not being such a damned fool
March 15, 2011 “I’m not an arsehole, it was only 200 dead people then” or as MiniFP Quotes “No. No “however”. Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it”
ETA: apologies for my poor maths last night! 70 years since Pearl Harbour attack, not 78
ETA: oh boy. This post is RIDDLED with mistakes. September the 10th?? Sigh. I’ll fix that. It kind of takes the fun out of being snotty and rude when you have to come back and announce your silly oversights!
A writer for The Family Guy made the following comment on Twitter about the Japanese earthquake:
“If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google ‘Pearl Harbor death toll.”
He’s since apparently awakened to the fact that he’s a complete dirtbag and as his mea culpa tweeted:
Yes, because *yesterday* when there were ‘only’ 200 people dead (and ten thousand missing as a cursory glance at any headline would tell you) it was *okay* to imply that the Japanese somehow deserve death, fear, destruction and *punishment* because Americans died during a war. Never mind that the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ‘paid back’ those deaths over one hundred fold, that it was
78 70 years ago, nevermind the Japanese internment camps, America’s tendency to bomb the shit out of other countries, America’s use of Japanese land and military basis in its later wars or any inconvenient facts like that.
No, a natural disaster involving funny “Asian people”, it’s time for a joke, a racist joke, a joke that says ‘Well haha, they deserved it. That’s what you GET when you kill USians’. If he thinks it’s *not* that fucked up then let me ask what he’d have said if I’d said on
10 11 September 2001 ‘If you’re feeling bad for Americans today, google Klu Klux Klan’.
It wasn’t the fucking *death toll* which made your arsehole comment arseholish, it’s the fact you’re an arsehole and made an arsehole comment that makes (you and) your comment arseholish. Own it buddy it will do you good.
In a news story about an eleven year old girl gang raped by up to EIGHTEEN MEN (and presumably boys/adolescents since some were in high school) the two quotes included in the story about the effects on the community are these:
”It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a medical worker at a local hospital who says she knows several of the defendants. ”These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
Do you think that any one of them could have thought of this before they decided to rape a child for shits and giggles and FILM IT? I don’t actually CARE at this point. I understand that if one of them ever actually develops a shred of humanity/empathy/conscience they might FEEL BAD for having raped a child, but you know what? Fucking FEEL BAD, because you raped a child. You collaborated with your mates to gang rape a child and film it. So keep on feeling bad.
Has this quote been taken out of context, or is it in any way possible that Sheila Harrison has decided to focus her angst and sympathy on the rapists in this scenario, and not, say on the eleven year old child who was just gang raped?
The second quote was from the school district’s spokeswoman with:
”It’s devastating, and it’s really tearing our community apart,” the spokeswoman said. ”I really wish that this could end in a better light.”
It can’t. It’s the gang rape of a child by up to eighteen men and teenage boys. How can it possibly end in any good light? What ‘light’ is there to change what is just a heinous heinous crime? I wish it could have NEVER BEGUN. I wish that the community had been able to I don’t know, run programs on respect for girls and women, on sexual violence, I wish a whole bunch of things, but they don’t involve wishing THIS could ‘end in a better LIGHT’ but that it had never fucking happened, that it wouldn’t happen, that we lived in a different society, that this was discussed, and aired, and challenged, and responsibility taken and boys and men challenged for every disrespectful attitude BEFORE, so that it didn’t happen. And as for those boys…well I *wish* I could beleive that any of them had enough human empathy to be ABLE to feel bad, but I don’t care about soothing that self blame. They can live with it, they can live with their choices, and frankly my sympathy goes out to the girl who has to live with *their* choices.
On the one day a year where we’re told it’s acceptable to consider women as fully human, and think about how the world is for women, SMH are running a story about workplace sexual harassment claims that they say have been sparked by Kristy Fraser-Kirk’s recent case against David Jones. Given that last week there was some fairly eloquent commentary from the current Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, that it would provoke other women to come forward with their stories instead of keeping quiet, and that this was a good thing, and that anyone considering Fraser-Kirk (or by implication other women making sexual harassment claims) as ‘gold diggers’ was continuing to perpetuate misogyny, you’d think that on this day (the 100th anniversary of this day even) SMH might show a little respect. While the article itself is not offensive, and is simply a rehashing of elements of last week’s feature on Elizabeth Broderick, the headline writers have outdone themselves.
The headline for the story? Copycats: Fraser-Kirk sparks new discrimination claims. Then when you click through “Fraser-Kirk case triggers flood of claims”. Well done Sydney Morning Herald. Copycats? Women coming forward with stories of workplace harassment are dismissed as being schoolyard ‘copycats’? Floods? No, that’s not alarmist language. If you read the article, it says there will be 100 more claims this year if the trend to report it more continues. Given the population that’s hardly a landslide, but thanks for startling people into thinking that these ‘copycats’ are going to totally collapse the system with their floods of bogus claims. Fuck you.
There was one link to anything related to International Women’s Day, being an article by Annie Lennox, but the rest of the stories featuring women were of abuses, broken celebrity engagements, a video of a model dancing, childhood pics of Kate Middleton, and an article saying Michelle Obama is ‘hot’, ie seen as warmer than her husband. In amongst articles on the price of milk, the guy who accepted free ‘sex sessions’ in order not to report breaches of building codes, a toddler mauled by a dog, a guy who is demanding to know if the judge is Jewish or a Freemason and all the usual crap. If you look hard enough you can find a tiny link to a story about the governor general talking about quotas.
Happy International Women’s Day 2011. It’s nice that after thousands of years of oppression and violence we get one fucking day in a year and the mainstream media could care less. I guess at least it wasn’t a big pink-fest.
ETA: Took a quick spin through sites to do a ‘front page’ test.
Well the ABC news website contains NO clues to the fact that it is IWD.
The Guardian is off the hook so far since it’s still Monday there and they already have a link up to this article (click through to watch the video).
The NYT has nothing, but again, it’s only Monday there.
On the ‘aternate media’ front, Larvatus Prodeo so far has nothing up, and same with Crikey. It is prior to business hours so let’s see how the day progresses shall we?
ETA (9:35 a.m) Nothing on Crikey or LP still.
ETA (10:00 am) SMH has removed the link to the Lennox article from the front page. In the ‘Life & Style’ section (what the FUCK?) there is an ‘inspiring women’ link, full of the faces of grinning white women. And directly under that ‘Women prefer funny to flawless’ with a pic of a bare male chest just so you know they’re not talking about ‘Those Lesbianists’. The section under the main banner where the Lennox article has been bumped from now has the primary spot given over to Sophie Monks fucking engagement break off. I don’t know, Monk may be LOVELY, she may be a feminist wonder, but I don’t fucking CARE about her engagement break off. It isn’t news. Whereas, hey, the ONE HUNDREDTH FUCKING ANNIVERSARY OF IWD…the one article directly addressing that? That was news but it’s now bumped). The link still works to the Lennox article, it’s just not on the front page which means no one new will find it but for links shared on Facebook etc.
Still nothing on Crikey or LP. Good work people.
ETA: 11:55 am. Still nothing at Crikey or LP. Link to the one major article on IWD still missing on SMH, gone too is the link to the article on the Governor-General and quotas. ABC news now has one small link to an article on the lack of gender-related pay equality. The article itself from a quick scan seems very good, but it’d be great to have something more prominent on the front page of the 100th anniversary of International Womens’ Day.
ETA: 7:39 am Wed 9 March Another article buried in the smaller headlines on the front page today – article is good, but headline says ‘Women dominate but men rule’.
I had a slow morning a couple of weeks ago: Mondays are my study days and this was one of the rare Mondays off before Uni starts back where I don’t have a specialist appointment or canteen duty or something to take up the whole day. I had one appointment later in the day so I decided to watch a movie while I continued covering school books.
I had a copy of The Hangover lying around. I don’t know what possessed me to watch it since I already knew what to expect. I think I probably even knew that it would (at least in part) make me feel like shit. But I watched it anyway. Cos it’s ‘just a movie’ right? I thought it might be vaguely entertaining. And it was just that. Entertaining…vaguely. It’s just that in amongst the slick production and the vague entertainment I had to deal with:
a/ the ‘cool’ friend declaring that his life was shit because he was married with a child, let’s get to Vegas/I may never come back (his wife whom it turned out he adored was of course both utterly stunning and virtually erased as a person, i.e she’s there at the end to stand and be beautiful for him to have his ‘moment of realisation’ but she doesn’t offer any opinions, or seem to display any personality, she’s just gorgeous, agreeable and wrestling his child into submission for him)
b/ the ‘nerdy friend’ being what I guess they’d call ‘pussy whipped': his girlfriend was (of course) a nagging ‘shrew’ type, who turned away from his farewell kisses, who demanded obedience, who beat him (which is played as being humorous and only a ‘problem’ in that it showed just how ‘dickless’ he had become) and who had fucked a bartender on a cruise ship and yet was suspicious about his bucks night adventures (and only *this* type of woman would be suspicious about a dude’s god-given right to go fuck some women with his buddies right?)
c/ being given ‘rufies’ played for gags (date rape drugs, haha, how funny)
d/ the inevitable ‘OH WOW, LOOK AT HOW MUCH PUSSY WE GOT WHILE WE WERE AWAY – WE’RE *AWESOME*
You know, I fucking knew it I guess, so why did I ‘let it’ bother me?
Well for one thing I see over and over again that women are sort of expected to go along to these sorts of movies/watch these dvds with their boyfriends, cos it’s a ‘movie’. Whereas say ‘Morning Glory’/’No Strings Attached’ is a ‘chick flick’ and therefore an unfair burden to place on a man.
For another I find it frustrating that these movies have such a massive appeal. The message they send is that women suck, relationships with women suck and most of all marriage sucks. Men who are married are ‘dying a little every day’, women are in control, women are sucking their will to live, controlling them, dominating them, and keeping them from the outrageous adventures they would otherwise be having. They all ARE or GET or WOULD LIKE TO GET married (presumably to the same bland women at home who literally in these movies have almost no presence and certainly no discernible personality – except that is for the Devil-Woman-Ball-Breaking-Bitch. But you know, you score no points *not* being her, since even if you are the apparently lovely and gorgeous wife waiting at home you are derided as the ‘ball and chain’ and the thing ruining your man’s life/holding him back).
I understand why this has appeal as it’s a story men LOVE to tell over and over, to themselves and to each other and to anyone who’ll listen, or any woman caught in the crossfire (apparently invisible during Man-Bonding/Chest-Beating sessions): that BUT FOR their ugly sexless harridan bitch wives who DEMAND children who FORCE them into parenthood, their lives would be one long rock and roll party scene! They’d conquer the world but for their wives! They’d be rich and famous but for their wives! Sexy and wanted but for their wives! Powerful and in demand but for their wives! It’s all about them: they’re the ones who would be having adventures and conquests but for marriage. But if it wasn’t for them, their wives would…still be ugly sexless shrews desperate to pop out more babies and break men’s will to live. Obviously not all men tell these stories. But those that don’t…HOW often do they throw down and challenge their mates when their mates do? How often do they actually say ‘That’s both ridiculous and offensive. I don’t want to hear it’. How often? Well let me say in 35 years I have *never, ever* heard a guy actually throw down like that. Because it’s ‘just a joke’.
So you know, a MOVIE that celebrates men’s spirit and humour and oh so wacky escapades when they for once in their lives escape the clutches of their shrill nagging womenfolk? WHOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEE, we’ve never seen THAT before. A movie I as a woman am expected to enjoy/tolerate/find amusement in when the women in it are not people but a bunch of caricatures? Stereotypes that soothe the irritated man, that tell him it’s okay, women are WIERD, OTHER, UGLY, HARRASSSING, BALLBREAKING…or HOT AND UP FOR A ROOT…or good, sweet, kind women who tell you you ‘deserve’ that weekend of immature drunken sleeping around. (I’m just wondering how he’d have dealt with it if she’d said ‘Yes, you deserve it. As do I. I’ll be sleeping with that co-worker I’ve been lusting after, okay?’. Ohhhhhhhh no. WOMEN BELONG MAN!!)
The thing about it is that once you got PAST all of that some of it was vaguely funny – it’s basically then an adventure story. There’s a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, a missing friend, chases by criminal types, the cops get involved and there’s a time limit to ensue crazy antics galore. Except that it was ALSO homophobic. And racist. And ablist. And predictable. And tedious.
I don’t mind a bit of dull predictability and I don’t mind a ‘dick flick’ but for fuck’s sake people, do we HAVE to celebrate all the varieties of hatred that the white middle class hetero male has cooked up to make himself feel better? He’s so fucking oppressed that the only way he can ‘escape’ and cut loose is to flee to the dessert to take drugs and drink and fuck hookers and molest Asian men and steal from black men and…
I met up with a friend and we discussed watching these ‘harmless’ movies, you know? Movies portrayed as just dumb, meaningless, just a chuckle – except the revolve around the idea that women oppress men, that women are to blame for all that is wrong in their lives, and their women are the only things standing between them and sex-addicted rock stardom and general outstanding and universally acknowledged awesomeness. Except that they set men up as BEINGS, as CONQUERORS, as actual people with desires and thoughts and lives and stuff (albeit total dickwads half the time) but set women up as absent (as in the case of the ‘good woman’, she is good because she is accomodating of his shit and almost silent, she offers no opinions other than ‘Oh, you’re wonderful! Sure fuck around!’) or stereotypes (hooker with the heart of gold – though she’s afforded no real respect, he screams ‘I married a WHORE’ in horror and even though he likes her – because she’s so kind and accomodating compared to his girlfriend – he doesn’t go back to her. Because she’s a hooker. So that clearly wouldn’t be suitable! Isn’t it fun. The wives get no respect then the prostitutes get no respect…hey I see a theme here!) or of course the ball breaking bitch from hell. What male bonding cautionary tale would be complete without her? But those are our options…absent, nothing, bland, oblivious to our partner’s fucking around and totally accommodating of his every whim, or reduction to a prop, a stereotype only there so the men can bond over the hilarity (OH!!! BOOYAH: she’s not just a stripper! She’s a HOOKER!!! That’s just how *bad* she is).
As we pondered these movies my friend said that sometimes when she thought about these storylines she felt the ‘full weight of feminist despair’.
But what tipped me right over the edge into this despair was standing (on the same day) in line at Coles, feeling the full weight of feminist despair and then seeing this old guy in Coles walk straight up to these young pretty high school girls in short skirts and you know DEMAND that they stop what they’re doing/talking about/thinking about and PAY HIM SOME FUCKING ATTENTION. And listen to his diatribe on how they had to COMM-UUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-NI-CATE and EEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN-CCCCCCCIIIIIIIIATE with ‘us oldies’. Because you know, he has a RIGHT to their time and attention and politeness don’t you know??? He’s seen two pretty girls in short skirts and he WANTS TO FEEL THEY THINK HE’S IMPORTANT and goddamn it he should be afforded some respect! And if he has to get it by force and hijack their time and make a scene and bully them into submission well by god, that’s just how it’ll go down okay?
I have to confess that in moods like that I really really struggle with being in a heterosexual relationship. It’s not *my* partner who did those things but suddenly I’m angry that he’s a part of a culture that already expects him to experience me as a ball and chain that already expects him to cast his roving eye always at younger and ‘fairer’ game, who expects he has no sex, gets no love, feels no compassion and care coming towards him. I feel angry that it happens and angry that he hasn’t stopped it somehow. I feel scared that this fury is going to seep like poison into our relationship. I go from commitment and calmness to wild panic and despair and depression. I see again this reflection that a commitment that was asked for (will you marry me) is treated as something the guy stepped in, something revolting, that the women who’ve made this commitment are treated so poorly, talked about so badly and I freak out. Sometimes I want to be married, sometimes I don’t, but we chose together a relationship of monogamy. Is that monogamy going to bite me in the arse and take me from being a real person putting all their energies into building a full life and into navigating communication, into being fair and open and listening and engaging and just reduce me to nothing? To a stereotype? To a punchline? Even if *he* doesn’t do it, his friends or acquaintances will at some point. And? And who will be there to say ‘Oh shut the fuck up, you have NO idea what you’re talking about, it’s offensive and wrong generally and you’re utterly wrong specifically. Why is something I give so much to set up as something that is worthless, less than worthless, an oppression of his potential?
Some days when it all gets to me I want to grab him and demand explanations, to ask him what he will do to make sure it stops, to ask if he really gets what I bang on about, if he takes it seriously, if he understands why it hurts so much to see the casualness with which women are run down again and again. What he’ll do before it’s too late for his daughter? What he’ll do afterwards to explain to her? What he’ll do in defence of me, in defence of other women? I want to grab every male friend by the ear and say ‘Well if you can SEE that it’s wrong, if you GET that it’s a real fucking problem then WHAT??? What *are* you doing? Apart from continuing to watch the movies?’. I want to shout that I’m sick of agreement and headpats that go nowhere, as in really: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? If you’re not actually going to be brave enough to tell your mates to shut the fuck up when they talk this trash then don’t soothe me by saying you get it, it’s wrong, it’s bad when you know you won’t do anything. Why not say ‘Well your anger frightens me, but honestly I think that the way the world works is fine for me so I wish you’d just deal’, or ‘Well you know I *do* think it’s horrible but I won’t ever do anything outside this room to defend these views, I’ll just let you defend them’, or ‘Well sometimes I’ll do it but to be honest it depends on the context and whether I care about whether that other guy thinks I’m pussy whipped, so probably I’ll stay silent when I care about the person’s opinion’.
I don’t know what to do with this rage either. I mean I get the social pressures etc, except why is it that we’re the ones who have to say something? When the reactions to us can be so much more hostile and aggressive? I mean sure you might be called a ‘pussy’ but you can’t deal with that? I struggle to figure out how to negotiate it, I feel sad when the rage becomes anger at actual people, men I know and love. I worry that it’s not ‘fair’ to them. They’re good guys, they do say things sometimes. But all I can say is that while it might not seem ‘fair’, it’s more unfair to know it’s real, to see that it’s real, to feel lost yourself about how to deal with it, to continue to engage in those sorts of stories, to laugh along, to know it’s problematic, and to see it’s causing actual confusion and pain and expect me to stay silent about how I feel. The world IS horrible to women, the oppression of women IS real, ‘over there’ and over here. We don’t live in an equal world. And then we have to eat a shit sandwich every time a new ‘bromance’ movie comes out because we’re expected to laugh along at how we oppress by virtue of being, how we don’t really exist as people to men, how we’re typed and classified and ignored and derided, and treated like SHIT again and again. I mean really. Wow. So when the rage gets too much and I want to demand answers from specific men and they’re frightened? All I can say is I’m frightened all the time – I live in a world where my chances of getting raped are statistically the same as men’s chances of being raped in jail…I live every day with the fear that you would live with if you were put in jail tonight. It may not be fair to turn it back on you and say ‘I’m angry and what are you doing’ but it’s all I’ve got, it’s how I feel at times and to expect me not to ever talk about it seems to play back into these stupid movies ideas about women: good women shut the fuck up and make everything always completely comfortable for the men in their life.
At least if I air it I know I haven’t shut my mouth so that I get seen as the ‘unusual’ good girl, the easy woman, the ‘exception’ to the rule.