Banter in the Garden
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Tea and Strumpets
FOTLG Boganette linked to this article on Tumblr last night. I have been mulling it over, and while it’s not the cause, it is definitely not helping this headache I have. So let’s, shall we, take this apart piece by piece. It is brilliant in it’s absurdity. As always, Don’t read the comments.
Is the pursuit for gender equality sucking life out of relationships?
Not mine, but you carry on.
Instead of harnessing the different qualities of men and women to energise us, we are striving to make men and women equal.
More women are joining the battle for the CEO’s chair and pursuing dominance in their homes and communities. But in the process they’re becoming more like men. And men are becoming… well, less like men.
Um, yeah, no. “Striving for equality” isn’t “making women more like men. And cutting off the men’s balls and turning them into namby-pamby apron wearing pantywaists. It means women having equal rights and opportunities and access to services and healthcare, and bodily autonomy, and freedom from fear of violence, and teh right to work or not work. It’s the choice. And if a woman has to “become more like a man” to do that, that’s a sad indictment on this apparently “post-feminist” world we live in. If she does that because she chooses to, fantastic. But let’s none of us fool ourselves into thinking that women wearing boxy pantsuits and drinking beer with the boys after a 14 hour day at the executive table is what every feminist wants.
Renowned Australian neurosurgeon Charlie Teo believes men and women have different roles “set not only by society but set by physiology”.
“The current trend is for dads to be more hands on. But for all we know it may be proven in a hundred years time that that may be a negative thing for the upbringing of children,” he said recently on Seven’s Sunday Night program.
Yes. Parental involvement is such a terribly bad thing. That’s why I just spent ten minutes googling and couldn’t find any study ever saying that. (I’m positive someone will come along to prove me wrong). But what do I know? For all we know, in one hundred years, it may be proven that cigarettes are good for you, lettuce causes heart disease, and bourbon is an elixir. (I can live in hope)
Feminism has achieved victories for women, but could it be at the expense of femininity, chivalry and attributes of the opposite sex that instinctively attract us to each other?
No. Have you not seen the recent retro-crafty-uber-feminine-apron-and-gingham movement. Or feminist embracing stilettos and lipstick. And I, as a card-carrying feminist (seriously, we need cards, ladies), have never once kicked a man for holding a door open for me. Chivalry is nothing more than politeness, and I expect that from everyone.
“This force of attraction is the dynamism that often disappears in modern relationships. If you want real passion, you need a ravisher and a ravishee. Otherwise you just have two buddies who decide to rub genitals in bed,” he writes.
*snort*. I just…can’t even. Hey, I liked to be ravished as much as any girl, but why is that to say women can’t be the ravisher? Oh. Because he wrote a book called “The Way of the Superior Man”, so he’s clearly the ideal person to quote in an article about feminism.
Earlier this month, TopGear presenter James May…
Noted without comment.
Well into the last century the husband provided his family with a home and food and this sole responsibility gave him a sense of power and purpose. And women didn’t feel pressure to justify their existence with a career. They were proud home makers and mothers.
That’s right, blame the bitches. We ruined _everything_. Just out of interest, this right you have to express your opinion, to be heard in a publication, that just came to you, did it? No one fought for that right, no one suffered so you could spout your “traditionalist views”? And also, you know there are women who are still proud homemakers and mothers? And the fact that some women feel pressured to stay in the workforce or not stay in the workforce, or wear heels or not wear heels or put our when they don’t want to, is exactly the reason you need to be a feminist.
However, a British survey of 2000 men revealed one-third of men would prefer to be the sole breadwinning traditional father while another quarter would like to be the main breadwinner with their spouse working only part-time.
Instead, men are sporting aprons, doing their own ironing and pushing trolleys down supermarket aisles – roles that don’t exactly exude manliness.
You know, one of the most “manly” men I know does his own ironing. In fact, I’ve asked him on occasion to do mine. Do you know what? Sporting aprons and doing the supermarket shopping is providing for a family. Challenging society’s vision of what makes a “real man” is extremely manly, and if you can’t see that, you are part of the problem.
“Kids, turn off the TV, Buster outside, Dave, the dishes aren’t going to clean themselves.” Dave feels like he’s surrendered his balls.
When a man is stripped of his sense of purpose, it’s more difficult to satisfy that instinctive hunger for power and purpose. Could this be part of the reason why one in eight Australian men experiences severe depression in their lifetime?
Deida describes it as a “weakened impotent existence”.
“Without a conscious life purpose, a man is totally lost, drifting, adapting to events rather than creating events,” he said.
Dave should probably talk to his wife. Of course, his wife is probably working a full time job, and doing the lion’s share of the caring at home, because our society continues to not value “women’s work”. He might feel like he’s surrendered his balls. She’s probably exhausted.
And you know what? I could care less that the poor delicate flowers that are men are lost, adrift, and confused and impotent. OK, I probably care about that last one. However. I expect everyone – of whatever gender – to treat me like a human being. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if you’ve been taught to hate my gender. Man up, and do the decent thing.
I don’t think that women should surrender their careers all together. But if we allow men to reclaim some power, we women could do more to embrace our femininity.
Would we be happier if more of us accept that men and women are not equal?
Aside from the fact that the first sentence makes no grammatical sense, um, what? I think you mean men and women aren’t the same. I’d argue that people aren’t the same, but actually, I will never, ever, not in a million years, not if you paid me a billion dollars, or gave me 100 puppies, accept that men and women are not equal.
And even if in your privileged life, men and women are equal, it might be worth thinking about the fact that that in a lot of places, women live horrible lives of poverty and violence and fear. And we need to do something about that. With or without aprons.
You know what’s awesome? Shaming women for their cankles and hairy legs. Also, “insisting” your “friends” wear more flattering clothing – instead of whatever they damn well please.
Also awesome? This sentence:
Hon, people argue with me all the time.
As always, exercise caution over the comments, but at this point, both published comments are along the lines of “WTF, who cares what your friends wear!”
As I have been saying to pretty much everyone I know in every format I can (yes, oral transmission of links is somewhat tricky) please go and read this. I’ll wait here til you get back.
Okay. I’m working on a column on the bisexual-specific aspects of that for Public Address, but there was too much to unpack for just one piece. What I want to talk about here is the tension between theory and personal experience.
Ironically, to explain my attitude to theory, I have to talk a little about my personal experience. I grew up in a poor working-class family in a state-housing neighbourhood and went to what was then a working-class school. Yet my family’s values were very middle-class.
I was the first person in my family to go to university. Others had done tertiary vocational training (teachers’ or technical colleges), but I was the first to get an expensive education without specific purpose. Now, I was already pretty used to being a social chameleon, but boy was uni a squishy comfy couch of unconscious middle-class privilege.
At high school, I’d automatically considered myself a feminist. Who wouldn’t, it was just common sense. At uni, I stopped. And it was because, at base, the theory I saw there didn’t accommodate my experience. Now I’ll admit that I made assumptions. That, for instance, if you were yelling at men for holding doors open for you, you were probably one of those comfortable white straight middle-class girls I was flatting with whose life experience had left them short of actual significant things to complain about. Nevertheless, when I listened to these women talk, there was no sign that socially, romantically or especially sexually, I existed. And there was an awful lot of “women don’t” that quite specifically erased me. So I shut up about my experience, and I walked away.
Now, over the intervening couple of decades, my “experience trumps theory” attitude has somewhat softened. I will still immediately shut down if someone uses the phrase “false consciousness”. I still believe that if your theory is in conflict with the experiences of a bunch of people, then your theory needs amending to have validity and you need to listen and acknowledge that. Theory that is entirely removed from the real world seems to me to be utterly pointless.
But. One of the things I really like about that Huffpo column is the way Emily Dievendorf marries her experience with broader theory, with stats that unite the experiences of large numbers of bisexuals. Detail and big picture. Lots of people have told me how shocked they are by this:
Bisexuals have higher incidences of depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor physical health in general than their heterosexual, gay and lesbian counterparts… Bisexual women with monosexual partners have an increased rate of domestic violence compared to every other female demographic. Compared to lesbians, bisexual women are twice as likely to live in poverty… While lesbians earn 2.7% less than straight men, bisexual women earn nearly 11% less.
Yes, because they’re surprised, but also because they’re responding to an abstract ‘big picture’. For me, what resonates is this:
I’m currently dating a man. I refuse to hide him because being in a relationship with him is part of who I am. If asked about my sexuality I would expect him to answer without pause that I identify as bi. Still… I feel like a traitor, I feel like I took the easy way out, I feel like I’m not relating and might, therefore, not be able to represent the queer community.
A couple of years ago I was at my book launch in Auckland, and a woman came up to me. She explained that she was related to a friend of mine, and then she said, “I hear you’re Family.”
After the minute I spent working out that she didn’t mean biological family, I said, remembering experiences with ‘LGBT’ community at uni, “Well, I’m bisexual.”
She made a sort of dismissive snorting noise and said, “You’re Family.” I nearly bloody cried. (Yes, of course I had been drinking.)
The thing with the abstract, the stats, is that they can seem so big and so overwhelming they make us feel helpless. Yes, I can make people more aware that actually, the mental picture people have of happy extroverted sexually-voracious bisexuals isn’t accurate, I can do Awareness. But each and every one of us can change the balance of a person’s individual experience. Listening, genuinely listening, to people whose experience contradicts our theory is a great place to start.
We had a family trip to the movies today, to see The Hunger Games. It may be the first movie ever that we have all very much wanted to go and see, ‘though there have been plenty of other movies that all of us are happy enough to go to, to keep those who are desperately keen company.
I thought long and hard before taking my pre-teen daughters, who are aged 10. The movie has an “M” certificate in New Zealand, which means that it is rated as:
Suitable for Mature Audiences 16 and over (but still unrestricted). Possible descriptors: Anti-social behaviour; Horror scenes; Scenes of cruelty; Offensive language; Violence; Sex scenes; Violence and offensive language; Violence, offensive language and sex scenes.
So that’s a step or two up from “PG” or “Parental guidance recommended”. It’s obvious why The Hunger Games is “M” rated: it’s extremely violent.
Even so, I took my girls. They have read all the books, and they have been circulating them at school, and discussing them with their friends. They very much wanted to see the movie. And so did I, because I thoroughly enjoyed the books.
Having seen the movies, I think that it was okay for my girls to see it. I did do my best to prepare them for it. We had several briefings, talking about the “M” rating, and talking about the various violent scenes in the books. We talked about specific scenes, and how the movie makers might show them. And we tried to identify scenes that we thought would be especially upsetting or frightening to watch. My aim was to give the girls a framework for perceiving each scene, so that it wouldn’t blast on them unawares.
After the movie, we talked some more, about the scenes where we cried, and the horrid scenes that they didn’t watch (it turns out that if you are only ten years old and small with it, you can curl right up in your cinema seat). We also talked about how the movie makers had adapted various scenes, and which bits we thought they did well, and which not so well. In other words, we had a thorough debriefing session, and I’m sure it will continue over dinner tonight.
I also made sure that we went to an afternoon session, so that the children would have plenty of time to talk before they go to bed tonight.
They seem to be okay with it all. It has taken a bit of work on my part, but given that they wanted to see the movie so very much, I thought that was the better thing to do, rather than refuse to allow them to see it.
As for the violence in the movie – yes, it’s bad, but it’s integral to the movie, rather than just there for the sake of it. It is not unnecessarily dwelt on in loving detail, and the focus is always on the people, rather than the acts of violence.
*HERE BE SPOILERS. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED. THIS IS A RESOURCE FOR OTHER PARENTS WHO ARE TRYING TO WORK OUT WHETHER OR NOT TO TAKE THEIR YOUNGER CHILDREN.*
Most of the violence is not shown in detail. We see the aftermath of killings, rather than the killings themselves. For example, in one of the expository scenes, we see a Hunger Games set in a ruined city, where a tribute has become victor by killing the last other person left alive by bashing him with a brick. We never see the bashing, but we do see the victor holding the bloody brick aloft over the dead person. It is a fleeting sequence rather than a drawn out one.
The blood bath at the beginning of the games is shown as fights and people falling dead, or we see a killer throwing a knife or a spear, but we don’t actually see any killing blows or deaths. When Rue dies, we do see her speared, but not the moment of spearing. There is an extended knife fight which I thought went on too long, too much of an “Ooohhh – look at the girlies fighting!” feel to it, but just as I was starting to think that thought, it stopped.
I had thought that the penultimate scene in the arena, with the mutts, would be very, very difficult to watch. It *is* frightening, but it is set at nightfall, so we don’t see the mutts clearly. I thought this was a good thing, because I know that this is the stuff of nightmares for me. It was considerably toned down from the book.
All in all, I think that this movie can be managed with younger children who have already read the books. I think the pre-visualisation helps, and I also think that it helps to know that Katniss is alive at the end. I would be cautious about taking young children who have not read the book, and I would even be cautious about somewhat older children going if they are not familiar with the story. So my assessment is a little different from Common Sense Media, who think that it’s too violent for pre-teens, even those who have read the book.
On a pure fan note, I loved the presentation of the tributes in the chariots, and I loved the scene with Seneca and the bowl of ‘fruit’ right at the end, and I loved the flame-dress, and I thought Cinna and Effie and President Snow were fabulously realised, and I cried as Katniss gathered the flowers for Rue and laid them on her.
I’ll be going again.
More on breastfeeding, and how those silly naughty mothers are just wilfully doing the wrong thing. This time it’s an article in the NZ Herald, coming out of the “Growing up in New Zealand case study”: NZ mums ignoring breast feeding advice.
An official guideline that babies should be fed only breast milk for their first six months is being challenged after a study of almost 7000 babies found the vast majority of mothers ignore it.
The director of the study, Dr Susan Morton, runs through some of the reasons for many mothers not breast feeding exclusively for six months, including the pressures of work, and the reality that in our developed first world nation, the water supply is reliable. She points out that the directive for women to breast feed exclusively for six months sets many women up for failure.
That seems to me to be a useful way to reflect on the advice handed out so freely to new parents. Instead of always pushing the ideal, let’s think about the practical realities, and see if we can develop guidelines, and support to help parents to with achieving the goals of the guidelines.
But the Children’s Commissioner is having none of that.
But the Ministry of Health and Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills are standing by the official guidelines. Dr Wills said Dr Morton’s comments reflected a classic “authority’s dilemma”.
“What should authorities advise when what good science says is best for baby is not what most parents do?” he asked.
“If you compromise and say that something is fine when it’s not, you are misrepresenting the science and selling parents short.”
Hmm… let’s focus on that word, “authorities”. Yes, people can be authorities, and experts in their field, and someone that other people turn to for advice. But the way that advice is translated into practice often turns into on-going policing of parents, and in particular, women, and instead of being a guideline, the advice becomes a rigid rule.
Let me tell you a story. When my younger daughters were tiny, my Plunket nurse kept up home visits for a long time. For people overseas, Plunket is a child-health service, designed to support new parents and babies and young children. In the first few weeks after your baby is born, a Plunket nurse will visit you in your home, and offer you advice and assistance.
My Plunket nurse was, for the most part, excellent. She was unintrusive, she quietly made some very helpful suggestions about how I could manage my infant twins, and she had her eye on my elder daughter too. Of course, I would find it all comparatively easy having a visiting nurse in my home, because I am white and middle-class, and any judgements she was making were likely to be positive. I felt assisted, not assessed.
But one thing puzzled me. By the time my little girls were about 18 months old, they were fully weaned, and drinking cows’ milk. Not a lot, because they weren’t big milk drinkers. One little girl was drinking about 400mls a day, and the other about 500mls. “You should really try to get them up to 600mls,” the Plunket nurse said. “That’s the official guideline.”
Then, “What about your elder daughter?” At that time she was aged about four, and she was drinking somewhere between 800mls and 1,000mls a day.
“Too much!” said the nurse. “She should only be drinking 600mls a day.”
So it turned out that in my Plunket nurse’s mind, what was supposed to be a guideline was in fact a rigid rule. Children should drink 600mls of milk a day, no more and no less.
This to me is a large part of the problem with the rules about breastfeeding. What is intended to be a guideline is interpreted as a rigid rule, with no flexibility for the needs of the individual baby, nor for women’s and families’ varying circumstances.
I think that the “authorities” need to engage a little more with the realities of women’s lives, instead of turning guidelines into hard and fast rules, and then wondering why women ignore them.
Apparently The Lady Garden is just too full of naughty words for some people, so there are places where we are blocked. McDonald’s doesn’t like us, and neither does the CentralCiti FreeWiFi in Palmerston North. Out of idle Friday afternoon interest, where else have people found that they are not allowed to access our lovely mix of feminism and sex positivism?
Ok, Let’s do this thing. But first, a couple of disclaimers.
Since I signed up to Tumblr (NSFW, but you knew that) a couple of months ago, one of the things I have found myself constantly re-blogging is images of beautiful, sexy, fat women. Wandering round town the other day, I asked myself why I do that. Is it the equivalent of the poster of Johnny Depp I had hanging on my adolescent bedroom wall? Am I attracted to these women? Well, yes, but that’s not it.
But mostly? It’s because I like seeing women like myself, Women of Size, portrayed as beautiful, as sexy, as desirable. It’s something I am not used to seeing. I don’t buy glossy magazines anymore, but back when I did, the women in them looked so different to me as to be from a different species.
Don’t get me wrong. On a good day, I rock my tits and my red lipstick and my Tool of The Patriarchy heels, and my cute dresses. I’m buying into the Beauty Myth as much as anyone. And much as it causes me pause to hold up Gala Darling as a feminist icon, I choose my choice. My life is easier when I get my tits out, if only because it makes me feel better, and deflects some of this stuff.
So, those images on Tumblr, the sexy plus-sized lingerie, the burlesque, the corsets and leopard print and stacked heels, remind me that yes, I am a human being like everyone else, and seeing my reflection in other people is possible.
But see, wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to go hunting for it. If FuckYeahfatGirls (I dunno, I am guessing there is one) wasn’t a dark corner of the internet, but just..how we lived. If our representations of women weren’t dominated by the fashion industry juggernaut, and instead were just representations of women. If Vogue didn’t have to be congratulated for it’s Plus Size issue, but just featured clothing for women of all sizes as a matter of course? If there wasn’t this false dichotomy between “models” and “real women”. If we weren’t taught that being The Prettiest Of Them All is the most important thing.
Seeing representations of ourselves in the world is important. It’s how we know we’re valued, and at the same time, just the same as everyone else. This obviously doesn’t just apply to fat women, but men, and people of colour and LGBT people, and redheads.
Am I naive? Of course? Would we all be much better of if this was the world we lived in? If everyone who isn’t tall and thin and blonde and white wasn’t erased from the public discourse? I think so. So, darlings, what can we do about it?
Sometimes, a comment comes along that is such a gem, filled with such insights, is so delicious, we just feel the need to highlight it.
This is an exhaustive process, of discussion behind the scenes, much conversation between the Lady Gardeners. We select these comments rarely, because we love all our little seedlings.
The following is just such a comment. We hope it will provoke you to share your own thoughts. Thank you, Brody.
Girls everywhere and all you emasculated “men” who are trying so hard to be politically correct at the expense of your masculinity, listen up.
Men and women are equals. This does not mean that they are equal in every single thing they do. For example, men are, on average, physically stronger than women. It is much easier for a semi attractive (even a 6/10) woman to go out and get laid. The same cannot be said about men. Men have to work at it, have some skill (game) and thereby get a woman to sleep with them. It is a LOT harder for an equally attractive man to get women than it is the other way around. This is one of reasons behind why we, as a society, naturally celebrate men who are successful in bedding multiple women; while at the same time shame women who bed multiple men.
Let us briefly visit the topic of virginity from both perspectives. Virginity in a man is not a desirable state or label when it comes to an attribute that the opposite sex wants. This is because he has obviously not been preselected by other women. However, female virginity is not looked at negatively in the least by men. If she looks decent, no man cares if the girl is a virgin or not. In fact, a female virgin is often wanted more.
Now don’t get me wrong, men LOVE sluts. We will never turn down an opportunity to sleep with a good looking slut. Partly because she’s good in bed, partly because it’s sex. But any decently intelligent, self-respecting man will know that it is a terrible idea to emotionally involve himself (i.e. date) a slutty girl. That would be a very dumb move. Why would any man want to get emotionally involved with a girl who’s had 15+ sexual partners? We would just be setting ourselves up for failure. There are many nice worthy girls out there who don’t have daddy issues and haven’t slept with an entire fraternity house. But, by all means, fvck the brains out of sluts in the meanwhile.
Most guys can detect when a girl is a slut by the first few dates and by what he hears about the girl from other people and from the girl herlself. We put this information together and figure out if she is dating material or not. If not, I like most guys, will still go in for the prize but have no intention of following through with dating the dirty little tart.
To put it simply, a lock that can be opened by many keys is a useless lock and of little worth. But a key that can open many locks is a master key and is valuable.