The World From Here On In
On War, Womanhood and fat guys eating hotdogs.
I have a sort of mixed pride when it comes to being a
woman. I mean, I'd be lying if I said every menstrual cramp
filled me with a feeling of jubliation that my body has the
capacity to create life. Its more like, pass the Neurofen
before I strangle somebody.
The really sucky thing about being a woman is that we feel
everything. For example, my sister once cried because she
saw a fat guy eating a hot dog and felt sorry for him. I'm
not quite as easy to crack. But the Anzac day McDonalds ad
where the girl gives the digger a fresh cup of coffee and
he says 'Thankyou' and she says 'No, thank *you*' always
gets me teary.
Oh great, here I go.
Okay, moving on. Apparently technology (Because god knows
that's the only way to measure the advancement of
civilisation) has advanced as much in the past 50 years as
it had in all the years before that.
Like, all of them. That's a lot of years.
This got me ticking. You can't just tell me that we're
gaining momentum *that* quickly. Maybe it was a question of
motivation? Maybe it was the leaps of a few key minds that
brought us forward years ahead of the natural progression
of discovery? Maybe it was simply the demands of society,
who were suddenly confronted with the possibility and hope
that lay before them at the turn of the century and the
capitalistic mill of demand continued to spill forth
faster, better, healthier ways to live?
So what the hell happened fifty years ago that catalysed
I believe we had a bit of a war. (You know, rise of
fascism, killed a few million Jews, whoops there goes
Hiroshima and Nagasaki etc.) Would we be where we are today
if we hadn't been motivated by hatred and ideological
clashes? Would we have come further if peace has
facilitated a blending of resources and international
cooperation? Ha ha ha! Good one girl, that's like thinking
that if Australia is invaded by Indonesia the Yanks will
actually save our arses. Governor Shrub can stick the ANZUS
treaty where the sun don't......
Meanwhile back at the ranch, we did have a war. And by we,
i of course mean all the countries that *count*. I'm fairly
sure most countries that weren't part of the European
front, the Asia Pacific or the First World had little to do
with it. World War my knickers.
Without giving a history lesson, women were drawn into the
work-force. (Or shoved, cajoled, propaganda-ised.)
Now here's a thing. I've tried putting myself into this
position a thousand times. Imagine being a woman, middle
class family, married young, but most importantly dependent
on your husband. If Pride and Prejudice taught me
I'm sorry. Just an aside here. I've got Steve and Kurt in
two seperate chat windows while i'm writing this. Steve's
whining about Kurt taking him to play computer games with
his nerd friends, Kurt's whining about Steve spilling
Bourbon in Mikie's computer and blaming him. And frankly,
I'm quite entertained by listening to these two boys
bitching about each other behind their backs like High
Rule number one of being a bitch: If you need to have a
bitch about someone, enlist a third party who has no
contact with the person you are dealing with. OR Bitch to
someone who you know shares your opinion of this person,
but only take option 2 if you don't care that the person
you are bitching about finds out that you think they are a
..... so yeah, if Pride and Prejudice taught me anything
(besides that when it comes to love, no pain no gain and
that Colin Firth is the sexiest man in existance)- it was
that in the olden days women had three choices: Marry well
(preferably to someone rich and spunky like Colin Firth. I
mean, Mr. Darcy), become a teacher/governess, or become a
nurse. This would seem like ancient fable except that my
own mother once said to me that she went into teaching
because "Its just what girls did."
So its the late 1930s, and I've just married this wonderful
man and I'm burning pies in the kitchen and making room for
babies because the contraceptive pill hasn't been invented
yet. And all of a sudden my husband's conscripted to fight
in the great war, I'm working in a munitions factory and
living on bread and cheese. Our cow Daisy's getting
skinnier by the minute and I'm having nightmare visions of
my lover's remains scattered across Europe, or worse-
buried at the bottom of the sea. He comes back on leave,
battered and scarred with dead eyes and bloody hands. The
most familiar stranger I've ever known. While he's dry and
clean and warm, he's cold and tired and missed even while
he's right before me. He knocks me up and leaves again,
Mulder style. Daisy dies, the cat fucks off, the paint
starts to peel on the white picket fence and I don't know
what to tell my son about his father, or the madness of the
world. When he returns. I am expected to fall back into the
trained pattern of making crappy pies and keeping the kids
clean behind their ears. But I've toiled too long and too
hard *without* him to accept that I might need looking
after and that my lot is to quietly respect his judgement,
cut the sanwhiches and set my hair. My hair is dry, my
nails are cracked from work, and I'm a little bit stronger,
a little bit harder, and a little bit uglier on the inside.
There's a reason women don't usually go to war, partly
because we cry over fat guys eating hotdogs, but mostly
because behind our fragility of form, behind the soft curve
of our breast we've got a strong core- built on the
compassion and instinct that defines being a woman.
Enter the feminist movement.
I suppose it started with the suffragettes and ended with
the working mothers. I'd like to think of myself as a
lipstick feminist- that is a feminist who refuses to let go
of her femininity. (Though anyone who's ever seen me after
a swift intake of tequila knows I ain’t no lady, farkin'.)
Women play a valid part in the workforce, although its far
from being 50/50. Women are overworked and underpaid,
there's statistics to support that view. But I don't
believe in statistics, they clutter up the flow of the
English language. If you don't put out- you're frigid, if
you do- you're a slut. And I've been at both ends of that
scale. Every man knows he has a dick. In fact, most men I
know have an intimate relationship with it and consult with
it on a regular basis, like its some sort of guru. Okay,
gross exaggeration. But for men, sexuality is presented to
you at puberty fairly dramatically and is difficult for
most men to ignore. And yet there are women I know who have
absolutely no clue as to the wherabouts of their clitoris.
Most men I know couldn't find one with a map, a compass and
a flashing neon sign.
For a man, what it means to be a guy is fairly
straightforward. And the advent of the homosexual poses an
enormous threat to this security. The identity of one's
manhood is often based mostly on avoiding looking like a
poof. Because homosexuality is looked on as being less of a
man. Men are strong, men are tough. But what do these words
really mean? Strong in the physical sense means to be big
and useful. I'm sure the male preoccupation with the size
of the falice has little to do with their ability to please
a woman, and more to do with the belief that the bigger it
is, the better it is. In High School, being 6 foot tall was
looked on as being some sort of hero, an achievement to be
proud of. Yet most girls who grew past 5 foot 9 felt
themselves to be freakish and ugly. Same goes for big feet.
Manliness is an intriguing concept. Using homosexuality as
an insult to other men is something that truly gets my back
up. (A metaphor that would probably make sense if I
actually was in some way feline.)
While men feel that homosexuality is some sort of dark spot
on the vast tapestry of all that is male, (to quote a dear
male friend "I have no problems with people being
homosexual, I just don't want to have to watch them being
all gay in public.") they seem to be somewhat fascinated
with Lesbianism. Watching to girls kiss seems to twinge
some sort of erotic nerve, while watching two males kiss
has the same effect of running acrylic nails down a
blackboard. I have actually watched two male friends
kissing each other before, and I can comfortably say that
it had no effect on me whatsoever and I applaud their
openess and bravery. I also have a male friend that
confessed he once simulated performing head by using a
banana in order to ascertain whether it was particularly
difficult to do so without having one's teeth touching the
penis. Such is the company I keep.
Lesbianism is sometimes seen as a glorification of the
complete and utter redundancy of men. Feminism at its
ugliness is those who profess that the male race is some
sort of evil opressive plague upon all that is Woman. I
cannot see it that way. My most poignant memories of my
experiences with men, are not of their moments of great
strength, but the beauty of their weakness, and the painful
sacrifice that a man makes to entrust a woman with his
Troubled relationships with their fathers, feelings of
worthlessness and failure, and the way that society has
painstakingly crafted men into creatures that cannot feel
are products of being male. Men are told to stop crying, to
bottle it all up and to seethe. Being a woman, it is easy
to admit feelings of weakness and loss of control. For men,
this sadly is not so. Men have looked after us for
thousands of years, maybe its time we started looking after
them a little? How do you feel today? Are you lonely?
Overwhelmed? Anxious? Human?
Gender roles are a subject of a lot of academic debate. At
university I had the option of taking a subject
entitled 'Womens Studies', but what about Mens studies? I
think men and women both grapple with their Gender roles.
Girls are afraid to be submissive, but at the same time we
compensate with paranoia about how men will accept us. Men
are determined to be self reliant, but feel displaced when
women are welcome in the workplace- but they are still
strangers to the kitchen. How many times has a father felt
his baby biting at his nipple in hope of getting something
a little more fundamental than a ride to a party or money
We women don't quite know how we fit into a man's world. I
myself feel torn between to worlds. There is the world
where I can forge a career, sacrifice for my passion and
build upon my wealth, achieving independence and validation
that my voice counts, and that I am one amoung equal men.
Then there is the world where I work a little, marry and
have kids, raise them and re-enter the workforce as a means
of a second income while the kids are at school, rather
than for the betterment of my own existance and position.
Is that the best of both worlds? Or just the least of both
worlds. There's no part-time jobs out there for Lawyers.
The corporate world is an all or nothing affair.
While a woman can be a breadwinner, how can a man be a
mother? I have nothing to draw upon here, as fatherhood is
a taboo subject for most men my age. Perhaps it is looked
upon as somewhat sissy. Most teenage boys that I've
broached the subject with see their children as miniature
football and cricket players for them to coach, rather than
voters, students, brothers and lovers- roles most men are
destined to play at some point in their lifetime.
Sometimes I think parents try to hard to undo the mistakes
their parents make. Drawing the line between guidance and
discipline, and allowing their children to find their own
path and make their own mistakes is something that I have
fought over with my parents as long as I can remember. I
think I would prefer to reinforce the positive things my
parents gave me. I would want my children to be
knowledgeable, self-aware, educated, worldly, open minded
but most importantly, happy. Happiness, whether you're a
man or a woman, is a story you write for yourself.
So maybe its a balance. Once men and women started to see
eye to eye, measure each other up and try to figure each
other out. Once we started to accept each other into our
domains. Perhaps that was a catalyst for change.
Sure, we women aren't much chop when it comes to scaling
rope ladders and wrestling guns off people. But by
accepting our minds and ideas into the intellectual
community- society instantly doubles its brainpower in
regards to everything from nuclear fission to international
relations. But I don't think the staggering leaps forward
of the last 50 years are due to more hands on the clay or
more voices in the debate. But maybe it was just the blind
butting of masculinity played against the intricacy of
femininity that brought about progress to mankind.
Sure, when it comes to dealing with emotions they're most
likely to knock back a few beers and sing along to Cold
Chisel or perhaps beat the living crap out of an inanimate
object. But men are capable of great moments of tenderness
and compassion. Some of the most acclaimed women's clothing
designers are men, and my Dad makes one hell of a stir fry.
But lets face it.
We need men to lift heavy stuff and kill spiders.