Hmmm, Baby, That’s Not Sexual…

“Hmm, that’s not sexual harassment, baby. When I decide to get sexual, trust me, you’ll know it.”
Author: Lora Leigh

I don’t like to queue.  Even on a good day I’ll drive right past the servo with the cheap fuel and the line of cars to the horizon and go back the following day when it’s 10 cents more expensive and the forecourt is clear.  It’s not that I’m particularly impatient.  I just don’t like being that close to people.  I had to stop at my servo today for fags.  The queue at the checkout snaked into an aisle because it was cheap fuel day.  Then someone stood behind me.  I felt them before I saw them because they were too bloody close to me.  I shuffled forward, he shuffled forwardiStock-image-for-Art-Breakfast-flyer.  I couldn’t keep shuffling forward without pressing myself into the back of the lass in front of me and whilst in that stationary, sweat coming out of my ears, panic rising position, I found myself in a frotting situation.  I could tell he had performed this manoeuvre before as it was accompanied by a leaning toward me to the right and down in order to pick something from the shelf parallel to me.  Could it have been an accident on his part? Is he carrying a brief case? That’s the first thing I thought.  We do, you know.  Even when suffering the most acute discomfort/fear, women will question their own perception before protecting themselves.

In a micro-second I was taken back to the time a man masturbated in a bus shelter we were sharing and then thanked me for being such a pretty picture; the time a guy grabbed my breast at a party and I went along with it, de-escalated it, because everyone else thought it was funny; the time my husband pushed me down a flight of stairs and then took me to hospital with a suspected broken knee and a story already in place; the time a work colleague grabbed my head and kissed me hard without my consent and I let it go because no one else in the office took it seriously and he apologised afterwards.

In a micro-second I was taken back to the training that informs me to always question myself before questioning anyone else.  Don’t raise your voice.  Don’t make a scene.  Be nice always.  Defer to authority.  Don’t over-react.  Don’t wear so much make-up.  Don’t wear short dresses.  Boys will be boys.  Don’t be bossy.  If you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.

And…don’t trust yourself.

Now, let me be clear.  No one actually said ‘Don’t trust yourself’ to me.  But those words are the subtext every time a girl is told that she must adjust her appearance, attitude, opinions or life style in order to be acceptable, safe and attractive.  It is the thing parents of girls never realise they are doing.  Desperate to protect them they begin to view them at a very early age in the same way they know the world will view them.  And rather than teach them to be fully realised, compassionate, powerful individuals who won’t stand for any shit they naturally, and understandably, teach them to shut the fuck up and not draw attention to themselves.  Oh, yes people, I have compassion for the parents too.

And the boys? Well, boys are taught not to take any shit and for fucks sake: ‘Don’t Be A Girl About It!’

It was only this year that a 4 year old girl in the US, hit so hard by a boy in her class she required stitches, was told by the attending (male) nurse: “He probably likes you.”

So back to my queue.  Could it have been an accident? Is he carrying a brief case? I brought the heel of my shoe down hard on his instep.   I was doing it blind so it wasn’t graceful and my foot slipped to his toes, so I repositioned and came down hard on his toes again.   And do you know what I thought? – I’m going to be arrested for assault on this poor man who is just waiting in line.

What did happen? – He quietly called me a cunt and took several steps backward.  He didn’t draw attention to himself.  He acquiesced to authority.  He didn’t make a scene.   He wasn’t bossy.  And in that moment…he didn’t trust himself.

I still don’t like to queue.

 

If Colleen Had A Dick…

 “At least a third of a woman’s life is marked with aging; about a third of her body is made of fat. Both symbols are being transformed into operable conditions so that women will only feel healthy if they are two thirds of the women they could be. How can an “ideal” be about women if it is defined by how much of a female sexual characteristic does not show on her body, and how much of a female life does not show on her face?”  – Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

 

1422596159009Colleen McCullough was this week honoured with an obituary in The Australian which opened with the following:

‘Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth.  In one interview she said: ‘I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men’

This is the translation for anyone not yet up to speed:

‘Although she was fat and ugly she still managed to have some smarts and charm.  And overall she’s okay ‘cause men still wanted to fuck her.’

I’m not naive.  I know that the way a woman looks, matters.  It is what it is.  It shouldn’t matter, but it does.  We know this because even our representatives of the “ideal” in this culture have the shit photo-shopped out of them.  Women, and men, are prescribed a female beauty standard that is cruel, unachievable, and extraordinarily limiting.

So we start there.  From infancy.  Women being told they are fundamentally flawed in order to sustain the cosmetic/beauty industry and men being told a woman’s worth is dependent upon her striving for the cruelly unachievable, in order to be attractive to the very men who use the unachievable ideal to criticize real women.  This becomes even more diabolical as women and men age.  Women are cautioned about aging as if it were a disease, an illness which can and should be treated.  A woman with a soft belly and stretch marks, ample bottom, and boobs like pendulums, is thought to have “let herself go”. ‘Exactly where have I let myself go to?’ I always want to ask.   Seems like my body is going places without me.  And as my body goes it seems I have to get louder.

Men, on the other hand, have no such sanction.  They can become fat.  They can wrinkle and go grey and be bald and be impotent and people will still listen to what they have to say.  The world has created forgiving and respectful euphemisms for fat, old, impotent men.  They are well-built, dignified, regal, and have EDD.  EDD, for fuck’s sake.  And this pomposity is completely accepted.

I think Colleen McCullough was beautiful, and her beauty was the least of her triumphs.  But that’s because I listened to what she had to say.   And the tragedy is, if she had a dick, The Australian would have celebrated her beauty as much as I do.

Bullying and Self Esteem

“People who love themselves, don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.”

― Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

 

So people who love themselves don’t hurt others?  I’m calling bullshit on this one.     8wAE51

It’s a good lie, perpetrated for decades on end by the psychoanalytical elite and spawned during the salad-acid days of the self-esteem movement and post-modernist mummy blaming.  If this person had only been raised to believe they were special.  If only they had a sense of their own self-worth.  If only they loved themselves. If they had been breast fed longer, not been breast fed so long, had been held more, had been cosseted less, if they had only been permitted to express themselves, if they had just been told to shut the fuck up occasionally…some parents are so thumb-screwed by PC fascism that they are actually afraid of their own children.  Loathe to do something that will impact on their child’s self-esteem, many choose to simply do nothing at all.

I’ve never believed that bullies have low self esteem.  They seem to me to have an excess of self-esteem.  The willy-nilly over-application of child-praise seems to create a disturbing sense of entitlement in them while simultaneously draining out any vestiges of empathy.  Our child-worshipping culture is like a catheter – indulgent self-satisfaction in, narcissism and conceit out.  Self-confidence, self-regard, self-approval – self, self, self – the roots of self-esteem and bullying are almost indistinguishable.

I know I may be out here on my own again, but I think that sometimes it’s okay to tell little Johnny he’s just being a right little shit.  Sometimes it’s ok to bypass the hours of analysis and counsel, the behavior plan, the positive reinforcement and every other accoutrement in the psychologist’s arsenal, lobbed into the void in an effort to discover and placate the origins of little Johnny’s anger.  Has anyone just considered telling him that it is a requirement that he stop tormenting his peers?  God forbid we just throw some good old fashioned discipline at little Johnny – the latest American psychoanalytical studies are touting that asking a child to take sole responsibility for the pain they cause others is retaliating against the bully with bullying.

Here’s the rub: they who bully with impunity as children, bully with impunity as adults.  And then they raise more little bullies.  More of us should be standing in the face of this and saying “No”.  Quietly, firmly, unflinchingly – No.  And teaching our children to do the same.  This in no way implies a deficit of compassion, but it does require a lack of fear in all of us.  Sometimes it’s okay to tell little Johnny he’s just being a right little shit.

 

The Darling Bitch

I do not fight against men, but against the system that is sexist.

~ Elfriede Jelinek (Nobel Prize in Literature in 2004)

I answered the phone at work the other day and a fellow gave me his name and the company he was calling from.  I asked how I could assist him.  And he said: “What I’m calling about darl, is – “ I cut him off there and asked: “Did you just call me darl?”  He said: “Yes.”  So I hung up on him.
He called back within seconds and immediately said: “Look, if you don’t want to be called “darl” you just have to – “  I hung up again.
He called back again within seconds and said one word: “Bitch”.
I should preface this by saying that I knew this was a marketing call.  I always try to be polite to marketers (they’re only doing their job) unless they get me on a bad day at which time I tell them the owner of the company, aka The Chosen One, is currently in conference with Satan.  I must also add the waiver that I do have clients who call me “Love”, usually older gentlemen who think I’m the slightly-smarter-than-average-secretary, and I have no problem with this because I recognise the motivation is pure and their choice of language generational.
But lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that for a lot of men, in professional situations, I am either “Darl” or “Bitch”.  I don’t know if it’s specific to the industry I work in or not, but I do get called “Darl” or “Love” a lot.  Here’s the thing – whether I’m standing in front of you or on the telephone with you, I always seem to remember your name.  Miraculous, isn’t it? And in a group situation, even when there are more than two of you, I still remember your names.  If I find myself in a situation where your name escapes me, I revert to “Sir”, because that is the etiquette, isn’t it?  You seem to remember the names of all the men in the room, but still I am, always and somehow, “Darl”.
“Darl” might do your laundry, get you coffee, pick up your dry-cleaning, or give you a toothless blow-job in a back alley for $50, but she doesn’t pay your invoices, or remedy your contract issues, or carry out the logistical and administrative requirements necessary for keeping multiple construction sites up and running.  And confiding in me that your secretary is a bitch tells me a whole lot more about you than it does about her. 
And you know when it is I segue from “Darl” to “Bitch”?  The moment I insist on being spoken to the same way you would speak to a man calling to hire a chemical toilet.  The second I insist on maintaining professionalism when you want to reduce me to a vagina, I become the “bitch” without a sense of humour.  I can’t fucking win: if I’m friendly I’m a flirt and if I’m firm I’m on my period (oh yes, that’s been said to me too). 
 
So here’s the deal:  when you call me “Darl” or “Love” I promise to turn into the nail-filing, gum-snapping, breast-enhanced, fake-tanned, stiletto-wearing, high-school-drop-out you assume I am.

Don’t be surprised when your phone calls don’t get returned, your invoices get misplaced, your messages shredded and your urgent business shuffled to the bottom of the pile I plan to get to in 2016.  Just because I don’t carry my brains around in a sack between my legs, don’t assume my IQ is no bigger than your shoe-size, love.  “Darl” is a feminist issue.

 
Oh, and did I mention? – My eyes are up here….

Aging Women Are Ugly…

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.” – Shirley Chisholm

Driving to work this morning listening to the radio I heard a disquieting discussion between the breakfast hosts.  I am the last one to take things too seriously – anyone who knows me can attest to that.  But this really pissed me off. 
 
It was a discussion about hot actors who had “let themselves go”.  I’ve always thought “hot” to be a distinctly relative term, and don’t even get me started on the definition of letting oneself go.  However I’m not here to argue semantics.  My day started with Kathleen Turner:
 
                “I think she’s the spokesperson now for Winnie Blue.  And Bakewell pies.”
                “Spokesperson!?  I think she’s the taster for Bakewell pies”
                “Have you seen her lately?”

                “I think her last role she was playing a bloke.” 

Then Carrie Fisher:

                “I finally watched the original Star Wars movies.”
                “See what we mean?”
                “Yep – saw her in the gold bikini – I DO see what you mean…”
 
 

 

And then Brenda Vacarro:
 
                “Yeah, she’s another one.”
                “What’s that film she was in where she was hot?”
 
 
 
What irritates the shit out of me is this expectation that women will remain preternaturally attractive despite age and all of the accoutrements which naturally accompany aging.  The things which are forgiven if one is male – weight gain, wrinkles, thinning skin, grey hair.  To name but a few.  That aging in women is seen as an ugly failure, rather than a rite of passage indicative of a lifetime of experience and enviable wisdom.  All of the women mentioned on the radio this morning, and in this Blog, are beautiful.  And guess what? – Marlon never came up once…
 
 
“Lines trace her thought and radiate from the corners of her eyes as she smiles. You could call the lines a network of ‘serious lesions’ or you could see that in a precise calligraphy, thought has etched marks of concentration between her brows, and drawn across her forehead the horizontal creases of surprise, delight, compassion and good talk. A lifetime of kissing, of speaking and weeping, shows expressively around a mouth scored like a leaf in motion. The skin loosens on her face and throat, giving her features a setting of sensual dignity; her features grow stronger as she does. She has looked around in her life and it shows. When gray and white reflect in her hair, you could call it a dirty secret or you could call it silver or moonlight. Her body fills into itself, taking on gravity like a bather breasting water, growing generous with the rest of her. The darkening under her eyes, the weight of her lids, their minute cross-hatching, reveal that what she has been part of has left in her its complexity and richness. She is darker, stronger, looser, tougher, sexier. The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold.” 
        –   Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women

No Man is a Manus Island…

Do Not Ask for Whom the Bell Tolls…
 
Like many others I have been deeply affected by the murder of Reza Berati (23) on Manus Island.  I have had my feelings about this death challenged by those who support the Border-Protection-Operational-Matter-Secrecy-Bullshit-Act which came into place one day when I blinked.  “He’s an illegal”; “A queue jumper”; “A rioter”; “A criminal”; “One less to have to fucking throw back” – I’ve heard it all.  And I’ve experienced the rage against me for having a different opinion.  And rage almost always is the construct of fear.
 
It’s not difficult to trace the origin of the fear.  Fear disguised as protection is a psychological tool that has been used by governments everywhere and throughout time.  I was living in the USA during 9/11.  I say “during” because it was not a one day event.  There was, of course, the devastating event itself – I dropped eggs on the kitchen floor and cried.  Breakfast wasn’t cooked that day.  But then there was the after, when every airport looked like a bad day in Beirut.  There were more machine guns than passengers at LAX and this was for our protection.  It was terrifying window dressing that worked a treat.  We were in imminent danger and the government was protecting us.  No one questioned.  No one asked for detailed intelligence.  And every American citizen who had dark skin, wore ethnic clothing, or was not Christian, was in danger of disappearing under the auspices of the Patriot Act.  I noticed that every time there was some questioning of procedure the little alert ladder would shoot from Green to Blue, or Blue to Orange, or Orange to Red, and we were all again convinced – we have to give up some freedoms to protect ourselves.  Or give up someone else’s.  Don’t we?
 
In the same way the Abbott government has demonized “Boat People”.  Boat People – the description itself dehumanizes them.  They’re not real people…they’re just “Boat People”.  And we must fear them.  Why?  They’re terrorists, and extremists, and illegals, and worse than all of that, just cheeky queue jumping money hungry bastards.  Of course they’re none of these things at all.  But fear works.  We argue against the treatment of live sheep exports more passionately than we argue about the treatment of “Boat People”.
 
People believe that their fear protects them.  But fear is freedom destroying when the fear itself is irrational and governmentally self-serving.  Governments that use the illusion of fear in order to control a population are diabolically self-serving: creating a fear in order to bolster ones own power and authority may be short term affective, but it is ethically heinous when people are assaulted, injured and murdered in our care.
 
The UN has sanctioned us.  We have made every major news outlet – including the New York Times – as a result of our scandalous treatment of people who came to us for help.  A fear mongering government is a Fascist government.  A government who designs an external threat as a unifying force for voters is very clever, and almost always short-term successful.  The problem is out there people.  Except it’s not.