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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

I met up with a friend tonight and we ate at Spice I Am. We had a great night of catching up and when it was time to leave I headed back to the QVB to wait for a bus home.

I became aware that there was a couple next to me and I saw him take her face in his hands and they kissed as though it was their last night on earth.

She turned abruptly and got on the bus and I chanced a look at him. He was grinning like he might explode from happiness and he didn’t care who saw it. He put his hands on his forehead and looked up at the sky and shook his head with this incredulous and joyful laugh.

I started to smile and realised he could see this but I couldn’t not grin: their joy was infectious.

He walked to the back of the bus and as there was a crowd waiting for the next bus I lost sight of them for a moment. Trying to be slightly stealthy in my mission to witness a little bit more joy I stepped sideways and fowards slightly.

They were both laughing like they might cry and there was a lot of gesturing and waving of arms and more laughter before the bus left. Again I looked at him and he was beaming, almost levitating with joy. I started to smile again – it was all just very sweet. He walked towards me to head off on his way beaming and looked right at me, saw me smiling and threw his head back and laughed.

Sometimes people don’t suck.


You know I have occassionally read something by Elizabeth Farrelly and enjoyed it. This is now a fact that makes me question my own critical thinking capabilities having read a couple of her articles on  ‘women’s issues’.

I’m not quite sure what the bug up Ms Farrelly’s arse is about, but it seems to have something to do with hating feminism. I’m not sure if she sincerely understands feminism to be the way she portrays it (I find that hard to believe since she appears to be an educated woman and the rampant misrepresentation going on is, well…both blatant and rampant) or if she wilfully talks a bunch of trash since it’s way more fun and emotive to set the old Straw Feminists on fire then piss on them than actually engage with real feminists and feminism.

But onto the article in question. The ‘Challenge For Feminism: To find an honourable role for men’. Thanks Liz, couldn’t have found a challenge without you and I’ll get right on that, it’s obviously top priority.

On a small note before I launch into the substance of what is MY bug up the arse re this shitpile of an article, I would like to question the entire premise. Say that men ARE lost and looking for a newly honourable role. Firstly who’s to say feminism doesn’t already try to address issues of feeling anchorless and not knowing what the ‘rules are’ anymore, but secondly and more pertinently to my mind WHY EXACTLY DO WOMEN AND FEMINISTS OWE IT TO MEN TO FIND THE ANSWER?

Has a revolution occurred that I am unaware of? Have men started uprisings in the street for gender equality and women’s rights to be paid equally, to have control over their fertility, have men taken sudden and decisive action on combatting rape and domestic violence? Have laws been passed that allow women to decide when and how they will carry a pregnancy to term? What I’m getting at here is that women have larger and more immediate fish to fry than some vague ‘Men WANT to be good but don’t know how and feel lost in the workplace and have no place because all women everywhere are SO SO efficient that it’s bad and makes men look bad’. And if we’ve not had large scale comprehensive male assistance in frying those fish exactly WHY is it our challenge to drop those collective frying pans in order to sort out some vague male ennui?

Further, since I don’t actually want to be all tit for tat, it is mostly for me about the fact that feminists (unlike Farrelly) believe that men are fully capable human beings able to examine and find resolutions for their own questions of How To Be A Good Man. Men can’t find an honourable fucking role for themselves? Who’s treating men as weak and pathetic now Farrelly?

Nevertheless, put that to one side if you will since the ACTUAL feminists I know are in fact concerned about gender roles and what they do to all of us, except that we concentrate on what they have done and continue to do – you know in real life – rather than on constructing fairytales of bullshit and deceits like Ms Farrelly’s article of today.

So onto a consideration of this steaming pile of horse dung (must we?).

Where or WHERE to start?

It is the beginning of an article. Cast your mind if you will to a fabricated scenario where Wonderful Men are simply trying to enjoy the celebration of their birth and All They Have Earned. But BitchFaced McGee wants to ruin it all with her SOUR and ugly visage, her bitterness of spirit that shows forth on her face. For yes, she (like most women – women Ms Farrelly would like to distinguish herself from)  Hates Men and wishes fervently for their Utter Demise.

BitchFace McGee is clearly representative of all women (or at least all feminists – other women may have sweet kind faces that come from doing exactly what is amenable to others, particularly men, at all times). She is a card carrying member of the Monstrous Regiment (no I’m not paraphrasing, those are actually her words. Monstrous indeed, seeking things like fair pay and the right to have sex when and only when they want to and with whom they please….scary evil bastards!).

It’s about here I start to get lost. Sourface at a party says ‘It’s our turn’. Ergo men need affirmative action (but affirmative action for what? Why? What’s changed. And oddly it seems affirmative action for women or on the basis of race would be bad or silly). Because you know how it works. A woman makes a comment at a party and the world changes, bibbity bobbity boo.

So now the world is different. And it’s UNEQUAL…in womens’ favour! And clearly if that *was* the case (though we have no evidence whatsoever that it is) it would be an International Crisis. Whereas unequal in mens’ favour is the norm, is natural, is a situation we can all understand and relax under.

Okay, well we’ve all heard this old chestnut before, political correctness gone mad, equality gone too far, feminists don’t want equality they want to dominate men, blah blah fuckity blah.

This (somehow) leads to Farrelly asking what women want, then (rapid change) to the question of ‘Do feminists want to feminise men?’.

So from women are about to take over, to men need affirmative action, to ‘What do women want’ (failing to see the links), to ‘Do feminists want to feminise men?’.

Well stop just a minute: this only works if being ‘left behind’, having lesser job opportunities is something that belongs to women, is a feminising thing, is linked to femininity. The market always told me it was supply and demand, efficiency, the best person for the job. And now someone’s telling me that gender does have something to do with it!

We can’t pause here, there is too much shit to cover.

Does feminism – do we – really want to feminise men? Probably, on balance, not. Most women would say no, they’d rather have men as men. It’s just that women unleashed – as fully operating political, professional and economic (as well as personal) entities – have proved themselves so terrifyingly competent, there doesn’t seem to be much left for men to do.

Women unleashed! Terrifying competency. Stop and marvel a moment. I’m terrified by many things but competency isn’t one of them. Or unleashed women come to that. The concept of “men as men” makes me kind of concerned because I’m not sure what this Essential Manliness would play out as, but given the context of the article it sounds as though it’d be some kind of conquering barbarism tamed just sufficiently to be stuffed in a suit, given the top job and a mistress and a glass of scotch and going back to the good old Head of the Household days.

I’m not even going to touch the idiocy of the ‘smacking is similar to sadism/paedophilia’ (or sadism is anything like paedophilia) stuff.

Blah blah men do everything to impress women, blah blah til we get to: “research shows that even in divorce, even in bachelorhood, women fare better than men”.

Research? What research? Oh piffle, don’t worry about that, carry on, look ho another False Feminist for me to fell!

So I think what she’s just said is we’ve usurped the traditional role of the man as bread-winner, flower-buyer and bottom smacker (and of course are responsible for the decline of society since women are Not Smacking Enough Bottoms). Which (somehow) leads to this:

This is a turn-up. It’s as if women’s power could only grow by sucking it from men. And as if, having gained power, women cannot stop themselves, even when it’s not what they want, using it to remake men and boys in their own image.

WHAT is a turn-up? Apart from these ludicrous claims being made.

Where is the evidence of this increased power of women? What is the link between increased power in women and decreased power in men? Is there only X amount of power to be had? Why was it okay when men had more power than women but automatically bad IF we can say that it’s reversing? Where is the evidence of men languishing, crying into their beers, wistful for a child’s bum to smack, flowers wilting on the bar top with no one to give them to? Why is smackig a kid’s bum a ‘man thing’? Who hates flowers rather than saying it’s not necessary for men to buy gifts constantly? And remaking men and boys…what? Just gimme a break lady, one outrageous claim at a time!

It’s all about a totalitarian desire to force others into conformity claims Farrelly. Hmm. With what *might* do women ‘force’ anyone? What conformity? Conformity with what? Inherent Female Beliefs and Characteristics? Like what? Unemployment and a refusal to smack kids’ bums? Really that whole paragraph seemed to be about Farrelly’s desire to name drop Westboro Baptist Church and compare feminists with religious extremists and totalitarians.

And here I think we’re getting a little closer to the bug/issue:

For it’s not that women, as mothers, teachers, wives and bosses, want to switch roles with men. It’s not like we’re staging a mass walkout from our child-rearing or home-making roles. Rather, it seems we want to be men and women, both, and we want men to do this also.

If we were neglecting our children to become men, Farrelly could like respect that. But the absolute audacity of demanding to be treated as fully human, to participate in all areas of life whether traditionally ‘mens’ or ‘womens’ domains? Well it’s outrageous. And expecting to see and holding out that full humanity to men. Well, you might as well lop off his dick with a carving knife ladies because you’ll be turning that man into a pussy by expecting him to take part in child rearing and cleaning as well as paid work!

The effect – in terms of roles, but also looks, behaviours and even disease (with more women now suffering male-pattern disease, include reduced longevity) – is a gathering of both genders towards some central norm.

My brain is making a dull clunky-whirring noise as it struggles to process this. Stepping outside of rigid gender boundaries it seems will Make You Look Like A Lesbian (and herein may be the real problem for Farrelly) and make you *act* like a boorish thug (or a flower buyer) and will ultimately…send you bald! We’ll have a society of bald  people! Help! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

For some reason this alleged centripetal force of feminism, pulling us all towards a core of responsibilities and rights across the board contrasts badly for Farrelly with the allegedly centrifugal force of (the allegedly long distant) patriarchy where Men were Men and Women were Nonexistent and never a problem there was.

Now (according to Farrelly) women seem happy with all this, but you know men, they’re slow. They haven’t really had a reaction yet despite the fact that The Patriarchy is ancient history. And they may not cope/may not have been coping. Women coped with the former inequality, and it wasn’t a problem that required men to do anything to solve it but you know, women ARE terrifyingly efficient and men terribly slow witted…

Then she crosses the bridge too far for me and lobs in the shock bomb of the sexual assault of Lara Logan. I’m not sure if she’s TRYING to link feminism with the blame for this (though I suspect so because it immediately follows the raising of the issue of how power is obtained and what is done with it).  First she implies that feminism has pulled us far from this ‘tribal’ mentality, then she wants to pause quizically and ask ‘But hang on, isn’t this to say that men are too weak to resist rape?’ 

Now, please do not for a second get me wrong here, when I read that story I hated the entire universe for a full 48 hours and I’m still talking myself down – I am NOT defending it, not minimising it, not suggesting for a second it wasn’t the most horrendous story I’ve read in a long time – I’m only saying that in suggesting  that ‘feminism’ has pulled us far from that is to ignore the sexual violence against women that is rampant in Western societies, and to insinuate that there is no feminism in Egypt. It’s again to credit women with the ability to shape and change the world, and responsibility when it stays the same, and to cast women as ultimately responsible for changing men, for curbing their violence, and to let men off the hook regarding stopping rape what could men possibly do? At the same time, Farrelly tries to suggest that it is *feminism* who holds forth with views of men that at heart see them as ‘too weak’ to resist rape or do anything about it when she’s just done it herself. Feminism didn’t have a thing to do with how she chose to jam these ludicrous thoughts together, and feminism doesn’t suggest for a moment that men are too weak, too simple, too bad to resist rape!

Feminism demands that men be held accountable and that men get off their arses and hold each other accountable, that men treat women as fully human, that they pull their weight, around the house and in matters of politics and law and society, that they don’t leave the ‘fixing’ of the fucked up gender shit to the women, that they see the construction of society as it is, that it favours white male able bodied priviledge, and feminism does all this precisely because it doesn’t see men (as Farrelly does) as somehow ‘less able’, ‘less competent’ or ‘less efficient’. Just frequently more comfortable with the way things are. Feminism critiques the foundations of gender structuring to critique WHY it is that masculinity is constructed as combatitive and hostile, why it is that it sees itself as threatened by otherness, of how masculinity and femininity and heteronormativity and many other concepts shape and define all of us – how we can find new ways of being when there’s no escape from what we’ve learned on a bodily level. Feminism does none of the silly bullshit it’s accused of in this article.

The rest of the article decends into a lament of the rejection of chivalry by feminists (not being versed in chivalry and history I’ll leave that for others to explain) and then some fucked up shit about horses and sexuality and women not being able to see a powerful beast without wanting becoming aroused by the idea of dominating and controlling it. Apparently feminism is again to blame for this urge, and Farrelly applauds it – to a point. So the ‘muscular control’ of men (as opposed to say expecting men to “control” themselves, and be fully responsible adults and also to actually speak out when their friends are being misogynist turds) is an aim of FARRELLY’s be clear, and not feminism, but then she fears we (women?feminists? Becuase women have an inherent desire to dominate) will turn men into asses. Okay I’m paraphrasing there. But I think the jist is we’ll ruin all that sexy man-beast POWER and turn them into something ridiculous and impotent, unable to spawn offspring (like mules) and cause the destruction of the entire human race. You know, something reasonable like that.

(I should say at the start I’m taking Didion’s conception of ‘self respect’ to mean simply allowing for your humanity/failings/contradictions – to let yourself be flawed, to work on flaws but not work over and over them berating yourself. I find ‘self respect’ a somewhat judgmental sounding phrase, and I just wanted to clear up my understanding of what she’s saying and what I’m saying when I talk about it so as not to be condoning any sort of ‘Pull yerrself up by the bootstraps and get some self respect about ya’ kind of view)

I read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that jumped out at me because of its sensible, compassionate approach to the question of motherhood. It was in response to an earlier published article that by all accounts lacked any such sensitivity or comprehension of lives and the different struggles they contain. Since I’d read a post by Mindy responding to the insensitivity of the first article, and since I was struck by the beauty of the way this new author had cut through the bullshit and really acknowledged the complexity of parenting, I posted a link to the article in the comment threat at  Hoyden, to be informed by Helen from A Cast Iron Balcony that the author is a blogger from Melbourne. This didn’t surprise me as I frequently see a lot more thoughtfulness devoted to a blog post by those at Hoyden, and the bloggers I know from that forum than I ever expect from mainstream media.

After the usual morning shenanigans involved in getting a child of thirteen with Asperger Syndrome and ADHD out the door for a Monday morning (incessant chattering from him while I’m blearily reheating leftover chilli con carne and preheating his thermos, watching him drop the bowl, followed by the honey lid – face down of course, herding him through his various tasks) I sat with my morning coffee and decided to visit the blog Helen had pointed me to. I trawled through say the four most recent posts, liking the author more the more I read. I like an author that can really share – share the realities of their day to day life, share their emotions even where they’re not going to be seen as ‘sensible’, someone that can evoke exactly the scene they describe. And then I got to her (Jabberwocky’s) post on anxiety and self respect

I’ve had some wins in the work sphere, which is great. But every win seems to make me more anxious about the next task or goal, the potential for failure more loaded. Which makes it harder to concentrate on that task. Which makes it less likely I’ll complete it well. And I keep taking on too much work because I’m afraid to say no, afraid to miss out. Worse, I’ve been chasing work when I should be planning a rest, because I need to have done it. Because I need the adrenaline rush of a ‘yes’. Each commission is another cotton-bud balm on my anxiety.

And the less I sleep, the harder it is to think and work efficiently; thus the more frantically my brain whirs through its to-do list at night. Depriving me of sleep. Making me more anxious.

Yes, perversity rules.

Over-concentration on every detail is obliterating the big picture. The pinpricks of every task and every associated worry dance before my eyes and merge into a gauze of anxiety, blocking my internal access to the machinery of analysis and action. An afternoon is wasted fixating on an imagined slight. An evening passes with a tape of a recent social occasion running in the background of my brain, scanning for slip-ups. I am poised to take offence, my skin dangerously thin, nerves pulsing too close to the surface.

I need to press control-alt-delete. I need to reboot. I can’t.

Oh my LORD can I relate to that! And while I describe it in varying detail to close friends, I usually don’t fully articulate the process like that and the description triggers such a response of recognition in me that my words and ideas are tripping over each other in their rush to get onto the ‘page’: I’ve felt the exact sensation of being unable to sleep because I can’t ‘turn down the volume’ in my brain; I’ve had to trick myself into snatching sleep too: I can’t do it in bed, but if I use the air mattress in the lounge when I’ve resigned myself to a night of no sleep I can usually drop off; anxiety: every woman I know seems to have experienced some ongoing form of anxiety; counseling: I wish everyone had a good counselor; the things that have helped me; the ways I wished people talked more explicitly about anxiety, the specific symptoms they experienced etc.

Growing up in a volatile family of over reactors permeated by alcoholic men I don’t think I even understood that I was anxious, let alone self respect. I knew I deserved better than shouting and hitting, I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I was a pretty good kid, I knew I wanted something vastly different for myself. Unfortunately I didn’t quite remember that or know how to actualise any of it, or realise that my self esteem was pretty well fucked and after my brief ‘freedome’ I did wake up at 21 having been in abusive relationships, having done the stoner thing, having married and divorced a man with substance abuse (amongst other) issues, with a child, on my own, back in my family’s house going ‘What the hell? That wasn’t how it was supposed to happen’.

I did take charge of that to the best I could with the very little resources I had (and I was lucky, there are many in the same situation with less resources) – I had no degree so I set about remedying that, first a computer course at TAFE then biting the bullet to go back for a double degree in Arts and Law (middle ground and moderation have been struggles for me for as long as I can remember). I felt miserable living where we did – while it was close to family support it was also a cultural backwater (at least from my perspective) – if you didn’t have a super strong community like church (and for a while I did but eventually I walked away from it) it was scenically pretty but White Blokey Thuggish Pub Culture. The school friends I knew there (the few that hadn’t fled) were just doing the same ol’ same ol’, and I tried but I had nothing in common with them. I knew I wanted more, something different, for myself and for my son and that chystalised around enrolling him in school – I’d fought long and hard to get him to the local school I favoured only to have it dawn on me that it still wasn’t what I wanted for my bright, funny, left of centre son. I remembered those schools – the angry thuggish kids from angry thuggish homes, and I knew it would be a matter of time before my son got the shit kicked out of him and slightly longer before all that I loved about him started to deflate under the pressure of school in that area.

We moved to Sydney with all the financial risks that involved, and moving away from the support of babysitting, cooking etc that my family had provided. But it also felt like an important step towards real independance from a family I felt so tightly enmeshed in and controlled by. But you know: I was a kid with a kid, I was studying and working and raising a child and that started to wear really thin. I had constant headaches, I couldn’t sleep. I was constantly taking on more, trying to prove to myself and the world that I wasn’t their idea of a single mum, that I could do it, I could succeed, I could carve a life of dynamism and achievement. I think that my relationship with my son got more volatile around that time too: he was getting older, experiencing the intense frustrations of school for a kid with special needs, coming home exhuasted and really acting out. I had no preparation: my child went from a delight to be around to someone who completely exhausted and already exhausted me. I didn’t know how to back off from any of it either: if I stopped studying I had no career or financial future to speak of, I simply wasn’t good enough at anything else I was aware of to think I could earn a decent wage and have a satisfying life without the degrees; I couldn’t not work as I needed the money and government support was not enough; I could hardly ‘step back’ on being a mum. Life was constant juggling and reassessment, stress, strain and noise and I reacted by becoming more highly strung, self blaming and not really (or not really knowing how to or even that I should) looking after myself.

I couldn’t sleep properly and that went on for years. I was romantically and sexually lonely but I was so locked into myself that I couldn’t really put myself out there (even if I did meet someone I was interested in which was difficult being older than other students and living in an area with very few people my own age). The anxiety, the filling my time so full that I didn’t have the time, even if I’d had the inclination and facility, to look after myself, the guilt and self blame, the constant performance to the world of the person I wanted to be and be seen as was just completely exhausting. I was so at pains to show who I was by way of opinions and arguments and thoughts, but simultaneously hiding any needs, any vulnerabilities, any oddness or silliness: I continually reinvested in putting myself out there as fiercely independant, as smart and strong, as capable and funny, as someone to be respected. And so I was – those things were and are important. But independance? It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes its really self defeating. And strong? Yeah I am, but how was anyone supposed to nurture me and give me what I needed if I pretended I needed nothing? An odd and silly? Well what’s the point of trying to hide all that?

Anyway I’ve really tried to work on all of that, to ask for help, to start to say no, to stop filling my time so very choc full that its not possible/highly stressful to do the things I want to do to take care of myself, to show my specific strangenesses to the world, to admit it when I’ve been a total turkey, to show my hurt or vulnerability, to start to allow others to help rather than ‘value’ an independance that was beginning to devalue me and all the work it took. And I feel better all the time – except that sometimes the more progress I make the more I get hijacked by the ‘documentary’ Joan Didion discusses (cited in Jabberwocky’s post):

To do without self-respect … is to be an unwilling audience of one to an interminable documentary that deals one’s failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for every screening. There’s the glass you broke in anger, there’s the hurt on X’s face; watch now, this next scene, the night Y came back from Houston, see how you muff this one. To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, the Phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commissions and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice, or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.

I had seriously never considered it an issue of self respect before, and I can see what she’s saying here. I’d be at pains to say that I don’t think anyone should be taken to task over ‘not having sufficient self respect’ since so frequently the people with these issues are those who’ve been shown so little respect or support by the world – it ends up making individuals responsible for a knowledge they had no access to, no way of gaining – but in the end for myself as a white university educated woman with stable part time employment, this does seem to be what it comes down to: such a desperate desire to prove to the world what I can do, to demand respect for my skills, having come so very far and changed and achieved so much and yet I don’t acknowledge my skills and achievements to myself sufficiently enough that I can give myself a break, forgive myself for not being perfect. I would disagree that self respect is the only factor at play here – how for instance for all those years I was casually employed and trying to juggle everything was I supposed to be able to sleep easily – but it does seem a rather significant one, particularly with reference to the way in which I ‘don’t sleep’ – that it’s the continual replays of the ‘failures’, and it’s that I’d like to change, for myself and for my relationships with others (apart from my son, who, being so continuously close sees me from all angles, sees my wrath, my exhaustion, my fear and tiredness, my silly moments, my unpleasant moments, as well as my bravery and laughter and joy).

I liked Joan Didion’s association of this anxiety/self respect issue with what it does to your relationships with others as well as with self:

To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out – since our self-image is untenable – their false notion of us.

This is something that’s been churning over in my mind lately: that in my relationship with TBO I’ve shared so very much but frequently withheld ‘messy’ emotions in some attempt to have him see me only as strong, capable, fair, reasonable. I’ve shown him tears and I’ve shown him anger at times but to really let him see it right there when I’m hurt and feel like a mess inside instead of transforming that confusion and pain into a coherent argument at arms length, to setting out what is and isn’t okay, to words-words-words-words-don’t look at me right now-words; and that there is, in the end, a lack of honesty in not allowing him to see that. Which of course (magically it always seems to me) when discussed, when brought to light in the context of a healthy relationship ends up bringing new understandings and revelations and trust.

But also that I don’t allow others to see my vulnerabilities; that in my forceful independence I don’t allow others to help; that I’ve achieved so much but that it might be time to stop packing my days and hours so very full that I’m continually guilty about what I’m not fitting in (which was inevitable since I made sure it didn’t fit); that taking time to be able to spot responses and challenge them, taking time for exercise to release that stress, taking time on my own rather than continually offering to cook for everyone, taking time to just be quiet and see what surfaces, taking time to fit in the things I need to do but not at the speed of light, that that isn’t in fact selfish, that the best way to go might not be to know I have to and beat myself up for not, but to do it and acknowledge that it’s legitimate self care.

Anyway, thanks to Helen for pointing me the way of (the) Jabberwocky, and thanks to Jabberwocky herself, for sharing her experiences of stress and anxiety, for introducing me to Joan Didion, for words that resonate and clarify – for sharing insecurities which I always think is such a brave and generous thing to do.

Why not, all the cool kids are doing it…K Rudd, Malcolm Fraser. I wish Fraser had expanded somewhat rather than telling us to buy his book, because no, I don’t want to buy his book with two weeks to go before the election just to read that no one should elect Tony Abbott.

I’ve just been watching this unfold with increasing horror – is it actually conceivable that he could be voted in as Prime Minister? WHY? HOW? When did this become a possibility?

I’ve started to try to avoid all news about the election while donating to any GetUp! campaign I’m emailed about (and well done GetUp!, a successful High Court challenge to the constitutional validity of electoral amendment legislation is a BIG FUCK OFF deal!) but lately I’ve been unable to avoid it even by refusing to read/listen/watch.

My office has expanded lately and with it the quota of staff members prepared to sell women down the river to defend some dickhead white old man’s right to be awful/lecherous/a rape defender/a breaker of discrimination law/a perpetrator of sexual assault has expanded.

So this week I’ve heard all about how ‘neither of them will be that bad for US’ (actually it could be pretty bad for me, but apart from that even if it’s not bad for a handful of priviledged white middle class professionals/semi-professionals *I* actually give a fuck what happens to the rest of the country, the poor, the vulnerable, the homeless, I care about the rhetoric, I care about his ideology, I care about Indigenous health, welfare, education and employment, I care about women, I care about access to abortion, I care about health care and free education – I care); I’ve heard someone laugh (sincerely laugh) at Abbott’s vicious deployment of the anti-rape slogan ‘no means no’ and the way he called it/Prime Minister Gillard as a woman into question repeatedly. I’ve heard all about how Kristy Fraser-Kirk, the woman bringing the $37 million dollar law suit against David Jones (her employer at the time, where she was told to simply be firmer in saying no to a man that apparently the staff, the media and the entire business industry knew to be a serial groper/lech/pervert/harasser) is a ‘skank’, and how the lawsuit is ‘taking the piss’. This despite no one advancing any argument that Ms Fraser-Kirk is prevented from bringing such a claim, that there is anything illegal or unethical about doing so, despite no one acknowledging the law about harassment in the workplace, the fact that David Jones knew that law and had a policy, and the fact that David Jones did not enforce it caring more about this one pervy old guy and his ‘right’ to get his rocks off by abusing his position more than their policy, the law or the wellbeing of their employees.

Depending on who’s speaking when and on what topic I’ve shouted or shut my mouth. I’ve shouted at my boss because I know I can, I’m not ‘bullying’ anyone when I do that and because the defending the ‘no means no’ stuff was a bridge WAY too far and in that moment I knew that I didn’t care if I lost my job, I wasn’t going to say it was okay to make those remarks. I haven’t shouted at the co-worker in question over the lawsuit stuff, mostly because I’m staggered at her baseless assertions about the woman in question and the ‘piss taking’ lawsuit and I’m concerned that if I really push her and say ‘You don’t give ANYTHING to back up your views, give me something other than YOUR FEELINGS or repeating your assertions and we can talk’ that things will be said that make it impossible to work together – I don’t feel like I can yell at a co-worker the way I can with my boss, so I sit there going ‘Are you fucking KIDDING ME?’.

But anyway, I digress. Back to the election and Tony Abbott, I’m staggered that anyone can think of voting for this man! Everything he’s said and done, everything he stands for: this man is repulsive. Lest it be seen that this is my ‘feeling’ being asserted as truth a la my co-workers ‘skank’ labelling, I give you this collection from caitlinate at The Dawn Chorus because nothing says it better than his own words – again and again and again.

For real, READ it beginning to end and tell me you can say in all honesty this is a man you could vote as Prime Minister and not a rabid ideologue with staggeringly ill informed and bigoted views.

Hat-tip to Mindy at Hoyden About Town

Oh my good GOD. See I’m one of those nasty single mothers setting a bad example for impressionable girls anywhere who might see me and realise that humans can cope with a lot and still have choices, so I might be biased. As you would NOT expect from a ratbag single mum, I’ve just returned from a full day’s canteen duty at my son’s high school. Since uni’s out I decided I could spare one of my two rare days off (usually study days) to volunteer. I came home ragged with tiredness and thought I might lay down quietly for fifteen minutes to regroup but I’ve just read Bettina Arndt’s latest offering (here – sorry my net is playing up so not all my widgets are working: and instead, my body’s rigid with rage.

It’s an offering on what a horrid example Ms Gillard will be setting young women everywhere when she moves into the lodge should she win the election. Take a moment to chew on the absurdity of this claim could you please? I mean HONESTLY: she will move into the lodge as Australia’s first female Prime Minister, having won an election in her own right. What a magnificent example she will set to young girls! And we want to talk about the absence of a ring on her finger??

Arndt is in fine conservative form. De facto relationships are apparently less committed, less stable, less consciously chosen – Arndt discusses the issue of many couples ‘sliding rather than deciding’ as if couples never simply ‘slide’ into marriage and children cos it’s ‘what you do’, and as if all relationships involving a shared domestic relationship are the same. When I was nineteen I lived with my boyfriend for nine months with no decision that I wanted to share my life with him, simply to see how we went. As it turned out, not so well and I moved on.

Why on earth would you compare that to Ms Gillard’s relationship for heaven’s sake? It is plainly obvious to anyone with half an inkling of intelligence that de facto relationships can be every bit as committed to respectful, committed, long term relations as marriage. And guess what? Everyone can have them.

The rates of marriage dissolution suggest that marriage itself is not so stable – yes, there’s a study that allegedly supports the idea that de facto couples with children are ‘more likely’ to split than married couples. But let’s talk about how *much* more likely, let’s discuss the quality of the relationships of the married partners who stay together, let’s talk about reasons such as societal pressure not to leave a husband/wife, let’s talk about the problems in marriage, and let’s PLEASE acknowledge that the breakup of a parental relationship is not always an unmitigated negative for the children involved!

Ages of the children vary, circumstances of what they were subjected to within the relationship vary, reasons for and the amicability of the split vary (and I’d like to see some date on amicable splits in de facto versus marriage relationships). And it’s really simply just high time that we all backed the fuck OFF the notion that children not living in a nuclear familial unit are just worse off than kids in nuclear family units, just cos. For one tiny example, my son’s father lives in Germany, pays no child support and carries on like a goose. He rarely calls. And yet my son is a happy, funny, socially and academically successful child with a thirst for knowledge and a love of life. Me leaving his father when it became apparent that his father was an addict, and our lives would become enmeshed in his addiction and dysfunction was simply put the best thing that could have happened in his life. And yeah – we were married. Whoopty-fucking-do for marriage. As a contrast, my cousins would have had a vastly better experience of childhood had their mother been supported in leaving their father. And HER life would have been much better, and that is important too.  Oh yes, they were married. That’s why her priest could pressure her so effectively into staying with the abusive alcoholic prick.

Also according to Ms Arndt, those of us who didn’t marry (or didn’t stay married to) our childrens’ other parent, ‘drag’ our children through a ‘succession of chaotic blended families’. EXCUSE ME? That’s right, I said EXCUSE ME! You simply CANNOT generalise like that. Your bigotry is appalling.

First up, why are blended families of necessity chaotic? People are remarkably adaptable, and if they choose rather than slide into a blended family scenario (sure, you’re convinced that sliding only happens outside of marriage, you’re on your own there though) then they have full capacity to seek assistance in proactively managing the challenges of ‘blended families’ (which by the way can simply be referred to as families you know).

Second hey WHAT is with you and this ‘succession’/ ‘dragging’ thing? You seem pretty clearly to be implying that parents of children who don’t marry and may want to negotiate another relationship are irresponsible parents dragging through a ‘succession’ as if we can’t exercise our own good judgment about relationships and when and where and how to share an abode, and as if we can’t take our time as well as those who were married and moved on, and as if we have less ability to be able to choose again ONCE (given that appears to be your measure of a responsible parent).

There is NOTHING inherent in finding yourself a single parent after a de facto relationship that makes you more likely than someone who found themselves a single parent after a marriage breakup that make you more likely to ‘drag’ your child through a ‘succession’ of de facto relationships. NOR is there anything inherent in a commitment to de facto OVER marriage that makes a person more likely to be unable to find a relationship they want to be in for the rest of their life.

I mean Christ on a bike lady.

I have a child and am more cautious and more protective of my freedom than I have been at any other point of my life. I have been married – to my son’s father. It was bullshit. I am not saying that marriage itself has to be bullshit (though I eyeball it suspiciously very often). But that marriage was. So I left. And I’ve done it tough. And guess what. No dragging through a succession (or in fact ANY) of “chaotic blended families”. I’ve been on my own with my son ever since. And I’ve had a couple of relationships that didn’t go anywhere for various reasons, and so we never got close to discussing shared abodes. I’ve been in a committed relationship for three years now and we’re having long discussions about when and whether to share a house, how it would work, what it would mean, how we’d negotiate finances, how we’d manage space, what our expectations would be with regards to each other’s children. We’ve booked in to attend couples counseling in order to work through these concerns proactively before we move in. All hallmarks of a decision I would say, and I ask you how many marriages have that level of forward planning.

You’re banging on about Julia Gillard’s ‘real reasons’ for delaying moving into the Lodge? I suggest your real reasons for having a problem are that Ms Gillard has chosen not to have children, has chosen not to get married and has a wildly successful career and appears to all intents and purposes to be a funny, happy, intelligent and well rounded woman and THAT bothers the hell out of you as an example for our girls, since they might realise that they don’t NEED to slide into marriage and babies. I suggest your ‘real reasons’ are that you’re opportunistically seizing another moment in the limelight after your recent crap about how women should put out in marriage even when they don’t feel like sex.

Please also note: Some people are consciously, ethically against marriage as an institution. Some people are not interested in the whole monogamous relationship gig at all. Also, you are a twit.


Okay, I might try to go over this movie comprehensively some other time…I’ve almost been awake for twenty four hours and I finished a closed book law exam today.

But for now…see I went to see Sex and the City 2 to relax. To unwind. To laugh. To switch of my critical brain.

Now yes, I can see why people had problems with the tv show. I can. For me however, there was some benefit to having women (Sam) say things like ‘Ladies, I need a napkin to dry of my seat! That waiter is HOT!’ on screen.

But the last movie…well…it was…ho hum was about the best you could say for it overall. There were scenes I enjoyed quite a bit. But it didn’t have the snap of the series.

But THIS movie? Well let’s see…if you can get through the ‘GAYGAYGAY’ cracks, and the ‘BOOBSBOOBSBOOBSOMGBOOBSLOOKATTHEMENLOOKINGATTHEBOOBS’ ‘storyline’, well hold on to your seat, cos after a brief and dangling segue ‘Sam’ is going to ‘the new Middle East’. I think at about the point you stopped having her negotiate casual sex and her PR job in New York, about the time you ripped the Sass-Mouth-Queen from her context and plonked her in L.A, about the time you say had to give her a dog that HUMPED everything to keep the laughs coming; I think that’s about the time that ‘Sam’ became a parody of whatever female ’empowerment’ she represented and you had to put her in more and more ludicrous situations to create the impression of a ‘plot’.

Well what better than to dump simulacrum Sam in the middle east, all tits and hot flashes, all sweaty and loudmouthed, pure cliched obnoxious ‘Yankee’, and have her continually metaphorically and literally flip the bird at those whacky whacky Muslims. See her give the man a boner. See the dog humping. See her screaming ‘This is an outrage’, see her screaming ‘Oh yes I have SEX!!!’ and waving her condoms.

The final outrage, the nail in the coffin of my desperate attempts not to scream with rage? The ‘Look How Secretly Empowered THESE Muslim Women Are!!’, the ‘labels=empowerment’ reveal, and the ‘Escape in Whacky Muslim Disguise’ scene.

By the end of that movie I hated all of them…well maybe not Miranda for at least she *tried* to learn something of the culture and language, but still she was friends with these fuckwits. Carrie – learn how to have an honest fucking dialogue for once in your life. Big: you WERE acting like a tool, she cracked it for a reason. Aidan? Go away I never liked you. Charlotte – WHEN did you decide to do that whacky overexaggerated-facial-expression thing, and also could you BE more annoying? Harry? DUDE: I like you generally, you do NOT, I repeat do NOT stare at a woman’s breasts like that unless invited to. No, not ever. Sorry.

I think we’re done here. That was a steaming pile of shit and I want my money back.

This isn’t a movie. It’s a pisstake. It’s a pro-American, anti-Islamic, regurgitated hash of oppressive cliches and neurotic bullshit with the artistic merit of used dental floss.

There’s been an horrific plane incident in Libya. From the first story I’ve read the whole thing just blew up/fell apart when it landed. 103 people are dead and one is alive. An eight year old boy is alive, with broken legs and a head injury, his parents and his sibling were killed in the crash. There’s footage of this boy gazing glazedly at some unknown point. Someone is filming him. And the EU parliamentary president says it’s ‘truly a miracle’. From who’s perspective? I doubt it feels very miraculous to him right now, and out of the media, the EU parliamentary president, the investigators etc, his is the perspective I care about. This poor child has survived what must have been terrifying, he’s in pain and injured, he’s bedridden, he’s lost his family and he has cameras pointed at him because he’s ‘the boy who lived’? It’s not his miracle. It’s his horror, his pain, his soon-to-have-to-face-an-overwhelming-grief. The media is lapping it up, broadcasting it everywhere and the EU parliamentary president is putting a spin on it.