WTF is wrong with some men? And why are we letting them get away with it?

I’ve reached a point where I hardly dare open the news apps on my phone each morning. Not because it is necessarily bad, but because of the increasing number of stories about men murdering, belittling and shaming women (or others that oppose their views).

Found on Pinterest from movemequotes.com

I dread to think how this news is impacting our kids. Cross that: I know exactly how it is affecting our kids.

I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of speech – obviously – but like so many of life’s more obscure areas, I also believe that its parameters can’t be set in stone – particularly when it comes to a democracy in which each of us (supposedly) has a voice.

For example, there is a level and a tone of speech that is acceptable to me when it comes to the personal opinions of others. Let’s call it a tolerance level – where Israel Folau and white supremacists don’t register, and Alan Jones is maybe a 1 – purely so we can analyse and ridicule his verbal twattery.

I write a lot of op-eds, so it would be wrong for me to judge people for having and voicing their opinions, but even I draw a line in the sand when it comes to my moral code when writing. I would like to believe that others will show a similar respect. I’ll give you an analogy: In the same way that no one is forcing devout Christians and Catholics to have abortions once the law in NSW is updated, I do not condemn them for their outdated opinions.

Sadly, that gene or part of the brain is missing in many men in the public eye, who like the sound of their own voices and appear to have forgotten the weight of responsibility they carry. Even worse is the number of media channels that condone their vile hate speech by using the freedom of speech argument – when we all know that what it is really about is clickbait and money.

Like children who misbehave for attention, the vitriolic words of these men who get off on bulling a sixteen-year-old for her views on climate change, who insinuate that a sex worker is somehow deserving of her murder, or who suggest putting a towel down the throat of a woman to shut her up – and a respected, female world leader at that – are not ones that we should be endorsing in these progressive times, in much the same way that we don’t sensationalise the murderers of women by disclosing their names.

I am watching the SBS series, “The Hunting” at the moment – a chilling awakening about the power of social media in the wrong hands, particularly in relation to the shaming of women. Frankly, the ramifications of such abuse are quite terrifying and this series highlights again the need for this growing sense of entitlement among SOME of our young men to be addressed, or the number of murders of women, such as Michaela Dunn’s, will continue to increase.

As the mother of young adults, I know a thing or two about the shaming and hounding of girls in school and afterwards, and at the root of the problem is often privilege – and primarily, the privilege of being a man, (and more often than not) being white and middle-class.

As this series points out, it is not the girls that we should be teaching how to behave, it is the boys and their mentors who need to be taught how to respect them. By endorsing men like Alan Jones, there is very little chance of that ever happening.

Are Old Dudes Getting Hotter Or Am I Simply Getting Older?

I suspect that the main reasons behind my increasing attraction to old dudes are my age and my deteriorating eyesight. You see, these days, any woeful stirring in my loins is caused far more often by images of distinguished old dudes on Instagram, than the hairless, chiseled chests of men half their age.

I like to think that this change of direction in sexual attraction is a rare kindness bestowed on me by a creator who was obviously male – a necessary evolutionary shift, perhaps, to stop old women such as myself from running off with younger men, thereby driving procreation to a devastating halt?

Doubtful, though…

Attractive older man with grey hair and beard.
Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash

Nevertheless, it is a strange phenomenon. You see, not that long ago, I would have gagged at the idea of pashing a silver fox – rather like my twenty-four-year-old daughter. My head has always been turned by the younger cubs, for whom (in my prime) I would gladly sacrifice quality for quantity for the promise of a firm chest and as little post-coital conversation as possible.

I was also one of the doubting Thomas’ that shuddered at the idea of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ and Michael Douglas, and Di and Prince Charles. Albeit that the Welsh actress has had the last laugh. Evidently, she had the foresight to appreciate that a twenty-eight-year gap between her and her husband guaranteed that he was never really likely to look better than her.

Although, admittedly, it’s a close call. Michael isn’t looking that bad for his age if his appearance on “The Kominsky Method” is anything to go by. And neither did Robert Redford in “The Old Man And The Gun” and Clint Eastwood in the trailer for “The Mule”. In fact, I struggled to follow the plot in Redford’s movie, so mesmerized was I by the wrinkled tesselations on his face.

Or maybe I’m simply getting old…?

No. There’s definitely something very attractive about a man with a grey beard, who obviously went to Specsavers. Indeed, the only shame of my newfound appreciation is that mature women aren’t branded in the same positive light as our “distinguished” older men such as George Clooney and Richard Gere.

“Vixen” has yet to match the connotations of “fox”.

And while I despise the trope of middle-aged women as sour-faced and sexless, I’m glad that the ageism tide in Hollywood has turned for men at least. No one is immune to the passage of time, and there is much for our younger generations to learn from the wisdom of the old – especially now that family communities are so divided. And the lines of time and experience add a realistic dimension to characters – a fact that, sadly, Hollywood has chosen to ignore up until now.

Nevertheless, the treatment of women in cinema still has a way to go. While I hold fast to the notion that some men MUST find women their age attractive – a tricky presumption, admittedly, based on our visibility in the media – it is impossible not to notice how many of the female partners (of the actors above) were still in nappies when their leading men were in high school. The gap might be narrowing, but Sissy Spacek is 69 and Robert Redford is 82; Michael Douglas is 74 and Nancy Travis is 57.

I suppose I should be grateful that at least the aging process is somewhat of a leveler – one that provides us with a better understanding of “visibility” once the covers of our books begin to deteriorate. No more pretense; no more rushed, awkward conversations as the eyes of the man you’re talking to wander to your gorgeous best friend.

There will always be evergreen, “visible” beauties such as Kylie Minogue and Helen Mirren – some with young hotties firmly attached to their arm. And good luck to them! I’m comfortable now with the springy grey hairs in my parting and a beauty that is defined by my brain, my spirit, and my convictions.

Dig a little deeper, men, for you may strike gold. And above all, don’t believe the hype. Once our biological clocks stop ticking, we women can afford to be choosy, and what we want at this next stage of our lives is “substance”. We won’t settle for anything less. And “substance” is about the man who values us – not as a trophy, but as an equal partner, in intellect, passion, and curiosity.

It’s OK To Be White AND A Man, Just Don’t Abuse The Privilege

 

nick-fewings-532590-unsplash (1)Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Evidently, certain people have a chip on their shoulder about the terrible onus of having white skin.

I agree that it is terrible to be discriminated and victimized for your race and gender, and Pauline Hanson’s motion in the Senate last week reminded me of the backlash that has risen amongst certain male ranks since the #metoo campaign gained traction. And let me be clear, I do not include men that have been abused in that statement.

And yet, what these whinging, self-indulgent groups don’t seem to understand is that while it is okay to be white – and it’s even okay to be a man, I suppose – right now, these fights are not about them. These fights are against white people and men that abuse via the privilege of their skin color and gender.

When feminists point the finger at the harm men do and talk about toxic masculinity, the accusation is not directed at EVERY man.

Let me say that again: When feminists point the finger at the harm men do and talk about toxic masculinity, the accusation is not directed at EVERY man.

It is directed at the men that abuse; the men that refuse to listen to victims, ridicule them or call them liars; and the men that don’t denounce abusers or stand up publicly for equality.

Isn’t it funny how the same people that use #notallmen or “it’s okay to be white” in their defense, are typically the ones that refuse to listen to the opinions of others or support a group that is working to create a mutually beneficial society between the sexes?

I suppose it is inevitable that when a race and gender have held power for a long time that feathers will be ruffled. I get that. I don’t like it when I am ridiculed for being a white feminist, but while I do not feel I need to apologize for my whiteness, neither will I endorse the behavior of certain breeds that are running scared of losing their privilege. 

I am not ashamed to be white. I have never knowingly abused my privilege and I am not a racist. And yet, I have benefited from a system that has always worked in my favor. Maturity has made me more conscious of that. And for the record, I do know that most of the men in my circle believe in equality, and would never harm a woman, but I also know that many of them are scared of change, and that fear breeds anger.

I have never been overlooked or stereotyped as a result of the color of my skin, hence I have never suffered from the social and financial ramifications that go hand in hand with such discrimination. However, I have been felt compromised by my gender.

And yet, I don’t believe that I have the right to moan about my woes in the context of the current climate. Not when refugees are still being caged like animals; not when women are still being killed in their own homes; not when people are still being judged for their choice of faith, and we watch them in shame, powerless in the face of governments that refuse to listen to us, the people that voted for them.

I will excuse Pauline Hanson’s latest shocking attempt to instill fear because she is a mockery to humanity, whiteness, women, and politics. But I cannot excuse the selfishness and arrogance of those who persist in putting their own agenda ahead of minorities at this turning point in history.

And this IS a turning point in history. We are marching for equality; we are marching for our rights and we are marching for what is right. There is no doubt in my mind that change will take time, and there will be many times when it won’t sit comfortably with everyone, but the tide is already turning.

Is This Year’s “Bachelor” Helping Us Think Beyond The Stereotypes?

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I’ve been sucked into The Bachelor again. No excuse really, other than it’s the perfect wind-down tv that gives me an added connection to NC and something to comment about on Twitter.

While this season has some disconcerting constancies about it – that include Osher’s perfect hair, the gaudiness of the mansion and it’s general “whiteness” – it is much more interesting than the preceding few because the producers have given us a “Bachie” with personality this time.

I’ll admit that it’s refreshing to meet a man who doesn’t rely on his Ken doll looks and sculpted body to attract women; a man who is actually prepared to make an effort to talk to the women and even crack the odd self-deprecating joke; a man whose vocabulary extends beyond ‘I like to go to the gym’ – even when it is quite evident that he does like the gym…praise be.

For those of you that have no intention of watching it, this year’s “Bachelor” is thirty-year-old Nick Cummins, an ex-Wallaby star – which I understand is an Australian rugby union player – also known as The Honey Badger, and for his career modeling boxer shorts. Don’t worry, I fact-checked this on your behalf.

Seemingly, from a salt-of-the-earth and genuine Aussie family that doesn’t mince its words and just wants their boy to be happy, Nick is the boy next door – although you do require a dictionary to translate his ockerisms.

To be honest, it’s hard not to like him. He appears to be comfortable in his own skin and exudes a level of confidence in the company of women that never comes close to arrogance. And I want to believe that in spite of his rumored playboy antics on the Northern Beaches, he is ready to settle down. I’m not as sure how well he’d fare as a Trivia Pursuit partner – although, who am I to judge? – but for a rugger bugger, he seems quite tuned into his female side and genuinely interested in finding his soul mate.

Of course, the success of this show relies on the recording of fly-on-the-wall bitching sessions in the house, during which the women are witch-hunted to hoist up the ratings.  And this year’s bunch of beauties don’t disappoint. As each week passes, their resemblance to an undersexed pack of rabid dogs as each of them fights for a piece of Nick’s flesh (or one of his off-the-cuff one-liners – that none of them really get), is becoming more and more uncanny.

I don’t like to knock my own gender, but there are a handful of “Princesses” in the house that are about as suited to Nick as Dutton is to immigration, and who have been carefully selected to keep the entertainment factor of the show pumping. Their role is to rouse the pack to a state of near blood-curdling cannibalism, because the camera loves nothing more than a group of fighting, bitchy women, to the point that sometimes I honestly fear for Nick’s life.

Funny really, because in The Bachelorette series, the men are always portrayed as mild-mannered besties, who would give up their lives for their best bro over the supposed object of their affection; whose main ambition in the competition (it appears) is a prolonged male bonding session at the expense of Ten.

And perhaps there’s an element of truth in that and how differently competition plays out between the genders. Women are (generally) better communicators than men and if you’re brave enough to expose yourself on the dating “Hunger Games”, you’re unlikely to be phased by a few minor confrontations about how much time you spend with your prey.

Men, on the other hand, are often blind to what’s in front of them until it slaps them in the face.  Evolution, toxic masculinity and saving the world have kept them far too busy to develop that much emotional dexterity, and for many of them, a comment such as ‘We need to talk’ can be a peril worse than canal root surgery –  obviously, I’m stereotyping here and that may just be MY husband.

So while it’s refreshing to have a bloke who doesn’t take himself too seriously, let’s not knock these girls – whatever their real reasons for going on the show. Give them their five minutes of fame. Who knows how hard they’ve had to work to look that good in a cocktail dress. After all, men are consistently patted on the back for their ambition, while we’re always accused of not being forthright enough – a no-win situation, in my view. Let’s not shame our gender’s proclivity to dissect, analyze and strategize, but rather embrace their humor and commend them for getting up there to have a go.

Every Woman Has Had A Harvey Weinstein Experience

I had to take the old man’s car to the garage the other day to get a quote for some hailstorm damage. When we first moved to Australia and our friends warned us about hailstones as big as golf balls and that the priority in terms of buying a house was to have either a garage or a carport, we laughed, just like we did when they told us about spiders the size of dinner plates. Nevertheless, we followed their advice until last year and made sure that each of our first twenty-five houses had some form of off-street protection. 

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Inevitably, when the hailstorm from hell finally came, we only had off-street parking.

 

And it turns out that the size of Australian hailstones can be closer to the circumference of a tennis ball than a golf ball, as we found out a few months ago: penance, according to NC, for laughing in the face of the predictions of impending doom from our in-house climate scientist.

 

The long and short of it is, hail damage has re-sculpted the old man’s car, and the new, beautifully, un-tessellated design on its bonnet may affect its worth even more than Kurt’s attempts at re-sculpturing it, should we ever need to sell it.

 

As the old man had already left the house a few times this month, it was my turn to face the general public to organise the quote for repair, and inevitably, the only place that does this very special type of repair work was one of those seedy, dimly-lit garages down a dodgy side street with enough testosterone in the air to grow back the hairs on my legs after my recent Spring shave.

 

Without stereotyping, there was one tattooed, grimy gorilla under a bonnet and another under a chassis when I walked into the establishment and it is fair to say that in my younger days, I would have been quite terrified to approach them. Some men don’t seem to understand that lecherous looks and comments such as ‘smile, love’ are hardly conducive to the creation of a new business relationship. But as it was, that day my entrance barely caused them to pause, which I like to think was because they were modern, intelligent men of a feminist persuasion who have come to realize that the historically sexist and crass behavior of their mechanic forefathers – those who thought it acceptable to ogle at posters of naked women in the workplace – is inappropriate and downright threatening behaviour.

 

Or maybe it’s because young men have an innate fear of cantankerous women over the age of forty-five – most likely because we remind them of their mothers.

 

Anyway, the boys gave me a predictably unintelligible response to my query, but for the first time I was not made to feel afraid and I left the garage with a skip in my step. What the experience did do was compound my disgust for those women who see feminism only as a battle about equal pay or educational and professional opportunities, and who refute the claims of women who have been (and still are) threatened, compromised and sexually objectified by men in positions of power.

 

Every woman has had a Harvey Weinstein experience, but we have been so brainwashed by male privilege that many are unable to see it.

Is It Middle-Aged Women That Are Invisible, Or Just Women In General?

There have been a couple of incidences lately that have got my tits in a twist about how invisible women become after the age of fifty – unless we go around waving a banner that says ‘Look at me, I’m here.’ 

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Is It Middle-Aged Women That Are Invisible, Or Just Women In General?

Sadly, it is becoming commonly accepted that as women age and become less physically attractive (by society’s standards) and recognizable for their function as reproductive vessels for the population, they become invisible in a society where beauty is rated higher than intelligence for them. And while the optimist in me would like to believe that with progress and education, society cannot surely continue to judge half of its population on their physical merits alone – I’m not so sure, anymore.

 

I’m also certain that the majority of us middle-aged women don’t miss the wolf whistles from tradies and the comments to ‘smile, love’ that thankfully disappear around the time we became less ‘fuckable’ by society’s standards and more comfortable within ourselves. But ‘invisibility’ is not only an attack on our physical prowess, it is also a scathing judgment about our worth and contribution.  

 

At a talk about feminism on Saturday,  Tracey Spicer discussed her treatment as a female journalist and news anchor before the age of forty – when she was told countless times to ‘stick her tits out’ or the equivalent and reminded frequently that she wasn’t paid to think; when she had a baby, she lost her job. So obviously, there is still some way to go.

 

It appears that society expects women to work to retirement, to equal men in their contribution, as long as it is on its terms ie. in the jobs that suit its narrow-minded gauge of what women can do. And for older women, that gets trickier for roles in the media, the arts, or indeed any job where they are in the public eye. Even those mature women who survive the harrowed journey to success that culminates in high-powered positions in politics or the corporate world, continue to be judged on their shoe style, their parenting choices, and their work/life balance, rather than their input to the role.  And interestingly, this at a time when governments are doing their best to encourage mature women back into the workforce.

 

My personal beef about not being recognized as an equal member of society (because I no longer fulfill the ‘fuckable’ brief), has nothing to do with how people interpret my sexual availability, it has more to do with the acknowledgement that although I might not have the brains, beauty and youth of someone like Miranda Kerr, I still contribute to society and to the joint finances of my household, and that should mean I have a right to be treated in the same way as my husband.

 

A week or so ago the old man and I went to our local bank. Throughout the fifteen-minute process required to set up our two new accounts, I was completely ignored by the teller, (a woman, I should add), except for when asked for my ID to confirm my secondary citizenship and saggy tit status. I did check that I hadn’t left on my invisibility cloak – which I have been known to don when the bins need to be put out or the dog pukes on the carpet – but no, I had left it at home – so I can only assume that I was being judged for my gender. Now I know that banks can be a bit old-fashioned, but is that really an excuse? I can give countless examples of similar treatment in restaurants when the bill has automatically been passed to the old man, even after I have ordered our meals.

 

Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, but when is this disparity in the way women and men are treated going to change? If I was the sole breadwinner of our family, I would be mightily pissed about it. I understand that it can be tricky in hospitality to know who is taking responsibility for the bill, but is it really that hard to ask ‘Who’s paying the bill?’, in which case I will quickly point to my husband. The assumption that the old man is paying is highly belittling to my contribution. I have always worked hard – apart from two short periods where my vagina was knitting itself back together after our two additions to the population – I have paid my taxes and I have striven to give back where I can to a society that no matter what I do, treats me as substandard.

 

We need to educate people, ladies. In the same way that we need to call out sexist comments when we hear them, next time you feel overlooked or made to feel invisible because of your gender, say something. Let them know that you have a voice, in spite of the lines on your face and high-pitched voice that perhaps like mine goes awkwardly a few decibels higher in the face of confrontation. Remind them that we contribute as much to society as men do, if not more when you take into account the taxes on sanitary wear, wine and chocolate.

 

Do you ever feel invisible? Is it an age or gender issue?

I’m Learning About ‘Privilege’

‘Privilege’ is a word that crops up increasingly in conversation at the moment – as it should – to make every one of us question our attitudes towards different races and genders. woman-1302674_1280

 

As a middle-aged woman with some free time now that the kids are older, I have noticed a reignited hunger and enthusiasm for learning to understand what the world holds for my young adults entering into it and the generations of our family in the future. I’m becoming more aware about the different kinds of ‘privilege’, in particular those that have been staring us in the face for centuries – that of ‘white privilege’ and ‘male privilege’.

 

I learned more about these when I went to the launch of Clementine Ford’s book ‘Fight Like A Girl’ in Sydney last week.

 

Sometimes when I try to convey my personal feelings about inequality, whether it’s with friends or here in this blog, internally that little voice in my head tells me that I don’t really have the right or enough knowledge to speak about this important topic that divides nations. I was never an activist for feminism in my youth and when I read articles by leading feminists that are so much more intelligently written and researched than the meagre offerings I put out, I feel like a novice. Yet everyone has their right to their own opinion, everyone has a voice, and we should use it in whatever forum we have if we are to progress and make any change in our society.

 

I suspect that if I mentioned the term ‘male privilege’ in one of the heated discussions about feminism that I have monthly with my dad on Skype, he’d laugh in my face, in the same way that he does when I talk about the pay gap and climate change. I’m not making excuses for him, but there is a distinct generational gap of understanding when it comes to equality, I believe, and interestingly his opinions don’t necessarily anger me – he’s entitled to them – it’s the fact that he won’t listen to my perspective that irks me.

 

Perhaps because he’s male.

 

I’m sure that Clementine would disagree, but I can’t draw up a huge list of times where I’ve been the victim of male privilege, either on a personal level or in the work place. I’ve been fortunate to have been given the same education opportunities and I don’t believe that I have ever lost a role due to my gender or colour, so I am undoubtedly the perfect example of ‘white privilege’.

 

Perhaps my bolshy nature has helped because I’m no pushover and I’ve always voiced my opinions loudly, so although I can admit to being witness to sexist and racist remarks that I since regret not jumping on immediately, and I’ve equally suffered at the hands of the occasional, ageing male predator, I’ve made sure that my circle of friends and my partners have inherently feminist ideals, even if they choose to be more ‘silent’ than I’d like.

 

Certain among them have required some extra coaching – not mentioning any names.

 

There was one situation in my late teens when I was hitchhiking through France and the initial delight that a Mercedes had stopped to pick me up quickly turned to fear when the driver’s hand found my knee and I was forced to bolt at the next petrol station.

 

Inevitably, more and more stories about male dominance are currently bombarding the media due to the catalyst of Trump’s march, nay limp, towards the Whitehouse – thwarted recently (*praying*) by the exposure of the level of his abuse of women, (and it seems to me), general misogyny.

 

How any nation could consider putting such a man in power when girls and women around the globe continue to be kidnapped, raped, tortured, married off and made pregnant when still children – often for political gain – or silenced and abused in the workplace, I have no idea.

 

Yet in spite of these daily events and stories of male dominance, (that even the most ardent anti-feminist can surely not remain immune to), astoundingly there remains an underbelly of male supremacy that continues to try to curb whatever progress women at the coalface of the feminist movement, such as our own Clementine Ford and Germaine Greer, or politicians such as Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton try to make. And they employ brazenly vitriolic bullying tactics and threats.

 

The state of Victoria is about to introduce a new program to public schools to educate children about ‘male privilege’, not to ‘man-bash’, but in an attempt to get to the root of where this concept of male dominance comes from and to reduce the number of female deaths at the hands of domestic violence, before this privilege spreads like a cancer into the developing brain cells of the next generation of young men.

 

Of course the program already has its skeptics, who have accused its creators of brainwashing our children into a campaign of ‘man-hating’ – yawn – the atypical reaction to feminism in spite of statistics that prove that many of us man-haters continue to put up with them, and some of us even like and marry the fuckers.

How The Conversation Changes With Middle Age

My pet peeve, aside from slow swimmers and water waders hogging up the fast lane at my local pool, is when I go to a dinner party and no-one asks me about my job… or indeed anything about me. restaurant-690975_1280

 

This has happened throughout my adulthood, since the very first time I was invited to my first grown-up lasagne and garlic bread dinner party back in the eighties.

 

The old man was always asked.

 

Its not that I’m self-obsessed, (well, perhaps a little), or do anything that is spectacularly interesting – although my job, I would argue, is far more appealing than the old man’s profession as a *yawn* accountant prior to his fall to middle-aged layabout, it’s the assumption that either: I don’t work, hence have nothing to offer conversationally unless it’s about my children or my organic veggie patch; that my career is not interesting enough to warrant attention; or that women’s chit chat is less valuable than that of the opposite sex. ie. a gender thing that if men get close to could give them a world of regret.

 

Don’t panic, it’s a little too soon since my last post (here) to climb back onto the feminist soapbox again, but why do I always feel like I have to initiate conversation and pose the questions the keep the conversation going?

 

When will someone ask me about anything other than my children?

 

What, apart from sport and a few comments about the state of the stock market and the horror that is Trump, do men talk about? Nothing wildly interesting in my experience.

 

The majority of them refuse to even pretend to have opinions on the sort of stuff they believe women are interested in, which is fair enough. Dare to mention fashion, cosmetics or interiors, and watch their eyes glaze over. But women can contribute to conversations about politics, honest! We do have the vote now, and some of us even have opinions; if push comes to shove I can even bluff my way through a five minute review of the Olympics or some recent golf tournament without sending myself to sleep.

 

So what other common ground is there for conversation between men and women once they reach middle age? Unsurprisingly, retirement and health are popular topics. Then there’s the question of how much longer we will have to work, what we’re going to do once we retire, where we can afford to downsize and how much longer we can stand working for our bosses? Because it becomes very difficult to work for anyone once you become a know-it-all – a character trait many among us in this age group share.

 

Then there’s the age-old question of when the kids are going to finally fuck off, I mean …become self-sufficient enough to leave home so that we can actually consider retirement? Our own parents health? Whether our knees can withstand another ski season and where our future holidays will be? The general consensus being closer to home because even though we all expected to travel the world once we retired, many of us have become a tad anxious about flying, and then there’s the whole leg-room issue.

 

Compare this to what we we used to talk about in our twenties and thirties, when we’d brag about our drinking prowess, whereas now we moan about how much our tolerance to alcohol has slipped and how much drinking so much water affects our bladders at night. We’d recount stories such as the one about how much we drank that night we got so pissed we ended up playing dead in the middle of the motorway while we waited for the petrol station to open to get some fags.We discussed work and who was banging who in the office, which band was playing where and where the cool new shops and hip new restaurants had opened.

 

The problem is, we don’t have the energy to do much more than watch Netflix series these days after a day at work, we’re too fat for cool clothes, far too comfortable on the sofa and we can’t eat out much due to bloating, anyway.

 

Remember how we used to get excited about where we’d be in twenty years?

 

Hey, wasn’t that because we were supposed to be retired now?

 

And how we’d talk about what we’d name our children – although I’m sure ‘critter’ and ‘waste of space’ didn’t cross our minds back then.

 

I suppose we don’t talk about our career aspirations anymore because we have the wisdom to know now that they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, because in reality many of us are working to live now whilst fervently praying that some day we’ll discover the secret to get out of the rat race early.

 

But then that involves the kids leaving home, doesn’t it?

 

And so we pour ourselves another glass of sparkling water and get back to joint pain.

 

 

 

The Male Short Term Memory Issue: A Valid Reason To Nag

You’ll be aware by now that I’m a fervent believer in gender equality and the old man and I have heated discussions on the subject most weeks over a bottle or three of wine. And the one area in our discussions where he really gets to me is when he argues that because women don’t have the same physical strength as men, there are some jobs that women simply can’t do. cleaning-268134_1280

 

So I admit, women probably can’t pull trucks with their bare hands for stupid tv programs such as The World’s Strongest Man. (Remember that?)

 

However, they can fight in wars, build houses and cut down trees and I believe that in all other areas of work, (given the same opportunities), they are equal. Apart from one – because in my experience men have an unfortunate handicap when pitched against women, that of a severely underdeveloped limbic system, the area of the brain responsible for memory.

 

First of all, let me say that this is not a general attack on men (or the old man), more a statement about the ‘nagging’ label that some men assign to women with such onerous ease each time they are asked to do anything something in the house;  and more so because in this age of equality, the old man does his fair share of nagging in our house.

 

However, and it saddens me to admit this, as much as I find the verb offensively belittling and sexist, sometimes the act of nagging is a necessary evil, due to aforementioned genetic mutation that some men are born with when it comes to remembering shit; one which seems to become most noticeably apparent on the domestic front.

 

It should be noted that some scientists believe that selective memory is also a co-morbidity of this serious condition.

 

I’ll give you an example. I have asked the old man, kindly and without raising my voice, for about five years now, not to pour crap down the sink onto the cleaning sponges, as well as explaining to him patiently the reasoning behind my request – in that we use them in the hygienic capacity of keeping the kitchen devoid of bacteria, germs and creepy-crawlies.

 

Yet every day I go to use the dish cloth or sponge, it is soaking in a puddle of unidentifiable ‘kitchen grossness’ that not only turns my stomach, but has the capacity to turn all our stomachs into a bad case of gastro.

 

So, between clenched teeth, I remind him again about the fucking irritation sad disappointment his lack of care causes me, and I will be told to stop nagging – about the same time that a force as powerfully threatening as a platoon of White Walkers climbing over the wall takes over me.

 

Men will always deny they’ve ever been told or shown how to do something foreign to their intuition, of course, or they’ll say it’s not important enough to worry about, or come back at you with helpful suggestions like maybe you should take ownership of the chore, ‘because you’re so much better at it’ than they are. But it’s a ploy, people, a sad little ploy not only to get them out of helping you, but to pass off their share of the chores back onto you.

 

The statistics speak for themselves, when 79% of working mums admit that they do the bulk of the housework.

 

Worse still, we women have been brainwashed to believe that it’s not worth asking, or wrong of us to suggest they help out for fear of that most heinous of accusations, being a nag.

 

Interestingly,  men appear to have a perfectly developed short term memory when it comes to how much money you spent on clothes shopping in any given month.

Man-Bashing Won’t Fight Our Cause

Since I’ve engaged myself more proactively in feminism, my involvement has opened my eyes not only to where women sit in society today, but also where men fit in.

 


Embed from Getty Images

 

As Max Olesker wrote in his article in the Guardian on Sunday – How To Be A Man In 2015 – the world that men now inhabit has seen some radical changes for them, too.

 

I am a relatively new feminist. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in equality before, but like a lot of young women, for a long time I made the assumption that someone else would fight for it for me. I was what you would call a ‘silent’ feminist.

 

My voice is a little louder these days.

 

But I wouldn’t call myself an extreme or staunch feminist. I like men and I am not anti what they represent – in fact I like the differences between the sexes. Just as you can’t brandish all sharks as man eaters, I believe that you can’t label all men as sexists or sexually exploitative.

 

My husband is a belated feminist. Fortunately, as a result of his work with women, he has achieved an understanding of and an appreciation for them through experience. He has also been berated for any questionable judgment calls about women on the home front when either myself or my twenty-something daughter catch him.

 

Our seventeen-year old son is a work in progress.

 

Feminism is a complex subject area and one that provokes a lot of passion. And although I do not defend man’s tortoise-speed progress to come to the table of equality, I am aware that education and change don’t happen overnight. Ill-formed ideologies about women, that have been entrenched in men since time immemorial, alas, cannot be shaken off as quickly as we women would like.

 

And men are entitled to a period of adjustment, except in the case of violence towards women. But man-bashing won’t fight our cause.

 

We are seeking mutual respect; therefore women need to demonstrate that respect, too.

English: "Mind the Gap" goes feminist.
English: “Mind the Gap” goes feminist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We need to educate, not war.

 

Understandably, some men, who already consider themselves feminists are confused by the animosity of certain groups of women towards them – it’s not that they’re confused about equality, but by the accusatory attitude that all men are made of the same stuff. What is equally confusing is that not all women share the same ideals of how equality should look.

 

Because women are all different; just as men are.

 

Men don’t have to grow long beards, sport man buns and eat kale to be acknowledged as modern feminists, but many men are now afraid to commit any man-focused crime.

 

What goes on in their heads and hearts is what women really care about.

 

I think a lot of modern, educated men are feeling victimized, downtrodden and threatened by this new wave of feminism and there could be a backlash if women keep pounding at them. Many feel that women expect them to shed their masculinity completely.

 

Which is not what we expect at all.

 

Men and women can be different without having to be at war. Read ‘Men Are From Mars…’ or watch the polar-opposite antics of the two genders in I’m A Celebrity… – and celebrate those differences. They’re not ALL bad…(frustrating sometimes)…but not all bad.

 

Imagine if men and women were paid equal wages and shown equal respect from society, then both sexes would have an equal choice in how to live their lives. The woman who decides to pursue her career after giving birth would be able to: the man who wants to become a nail artist could do so, too. Couples would be able to make decisions about their careers and childcare based on their skills, passions and ambition; rather than salary.

 

Not all men exploit or abuse women. Not every man whistles or shouts obscenities at women in the street. The majority of men don’t beat up their wives, use their physical superiority to intimidate them or innately feel that women should feel grateful for what society has given them.

 

Sure, harmful and archaically sexist attitudes do still exist but they will die out as each new generation is born and educated and society progresses with equal opportunities. More and more women are working and there is the potential for even more in the workplace if governments would address the cost of childcare and workplace inequalities.

 

Which is progress. So perhaps we should refrain from griping and taking a pop at ALL men about gender traits or ‘mantisocial’ behavior, which don’t truly affect our goals and ultimately are just ‘different’ to ours. We want men on side, working WITH us, so we can unite our energies towards the issues about equality that will really make a difference to women – NOW.

 

Bullying tactics never worked. Let’s leave name-calling in the playground.

 

Most educated men are with us. They already see the benefits of having women in the workplace and not living in a man’s world, but if they feel threatened by a woman’s world, they could run straight back to the cave.

 

The Biggest #QuestionForMen This Week Is What Century Are We In?

The debate over equality has been heating up nicely in the media over the past few weeks and I will always take whatever opportunity comes my way to get back on the feminism soapbox.   (Sorry, Dad!)

English: Chris Hemsworth at 2010 Comic-Con Int...
English: Chris Hemsworth at 2010 Comic-Con International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With awards season upon us when we witness the bevy of beautiful and successful actors and actresses flaunt their talents and physical assets on numerous red carpets, attention has focused on the different approach towards the genders by the media.   The wonderful Kate Blanchett was one of the first to publicly shame a reporter who dared ask her ‘who are you wearing?’, prior to any questions relating to the professional work for which she was being awarded.   I will be the first to put my hand up and admit that I am shallow enough to enjoy ‘red carpets’ for the fashion, but Kate has a point – I wouldn’t be averse to watching Chris Hemsworth or Bradley Cooper forced to twirl and preen for the camera prior to describing at length their outfits, fitness regime and matching accessories.   Why are women treated as cattle and men treated as talent?   We know that the movie industry remains a man’s world wherein the movie moguls are still predominantly male, most lead roles are written for men and the pay is unequal, yet do we have to insist on dumbing down women when they have earned equal status within the industry?   With the increased impact of social media, I believe that female celebrities do have a duty to mention the name of their designers on air; but so should men. What neither gender should have to accept is to be treated as vacuous, pretty pieces of fluff, there to sex up a movie or compliment their more successful counterparts.   Buzzfeed tried to turn the tables when they interviewed Kevin Spacey at a recent awards show and dared to ask him about his beauty preparations for the event.   http://youtu.be/xlW-aHC8KdI   A mani-pedi? Agreed, Kevin, it is fucked up!   His look of confusion once the penny dropped, said it all.   The continued inequality in the workplace was further highlighted this week on Twitter by Clementine Ford, one of our most forthright writers on the topic of inequality, who created the thought-provoking hashtag on Twitter- #Questions for Men. These were not questions of the ‘men are from Mars’ ilk, of how the fuck can two genders from the same species think and behave so differently; the question was aimed at the prevailing disparity between the sexes in the workplace.   Questions such as ‘have you ever been judged by the length of your pants’; ‘When you die, do you expect your obituary to start with references to your attractiveness or lack thereof?’ – a reference to an obituary recently posted about the writer, Colleen McCullough; and ‘In a job interview have you ever been asked how you will juggle work and home?’   There was the expected acerbic backlash in response from the cavemen and predictable accusations about whining lesbians who no doubt should be pleased with what we already have.   As someone asked this week when the world witnessed the terrible fate of the Jordanian pilot in a medieval-style public burning – sometimes we have to question “what century are we in?”

And Do YOU Have A Life, Like Your Husband?

Controversial, I know, but would there have been as much media interest if Phillip Hughes had been a woman, my daughter asked me in the car this morning?

 

‘Harsh’, I responded, secretly proud of her inner feminist sensitivities.

 

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/176640394

 

Being the complete cricket ignoramus that I am, I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of Phillip Hughes before last week’s incredibly sad turn of events. But everyone in the world knows who he was now.

 

And who could fail to be sucked in by those big, brown puppy-dog eyes and the huge, cheeky grin of the sportsman, who not only won the hearts of his fellow team mates but also those of a nation? Apparently he was an awesome cricketer too.

 

And it’s only right that his death should be ruminated over and that he should be eulogised.

 

But NC had a point.

 

How many times in my life have I attended a party or dinner on the arm of my husband and never been asked what I do? 

And Do YOU Have A Life, Like Your Husband?
Amara – Dinner Party 1954 – Found on Flickr.com

 

No-one is interested in what I do, but they are always eager to ask the old man about his day job and successes. Is that a gender thing – in that men talk about work and sport and women apparently talk about housework and children (?) – or is there the underlying assumption that because he’s a man, he must be successful/do something interesting?

 

He’s an accountant.

 

Whereas, in my case there seems to be the assumption that what I do is either a) too dull to warrant discussion b) nothing c) JUST raising kids d) too awkward to ask.

 

Which riles me because what I do is SUPER interesting, ACTUALLY, if any of those insular, uninteresting losers actually had the ounce of personality, creativity or manners required to ask me about it.

 

I could bore them for hours with my tales about houses.

 

Because I do have a life outside my husband and my children and some fairly outrageous opinions, and what galls me the most is that in many respects it’s been a harder journey for me to achieve my successes than him.

 

I’ve had to cope with vaginal stitches in the photocopying room, leaking breasts and I’ve had to give presentations on no sleep, yet it has still been expected of me to perform at the same level as him.

 

Which is why it is so frustrating to be overlooked and patronised.

 

Whatever men do, seems to be newsworthy, yet the only time women overshadow men in the media is when they take their clothes off or when they are painted as the freaky female success story of the corporate world.

 

I might not sit in a boardroom for work but I am still a person, with a career and a life, and to be honest, I’m far more interesting than my husband.

 

Ask me about it, sometime.

Joan Rivers Proved That Women Can ‘Have It All’

“When I die, I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action…I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on;  I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing “Mr. Lonely.” I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce’s.”

NEW YORK, New York (May 24)--USO Woman of the ...
NEW YORK, New York (May 24)–USO Woman of the Year, Joan Rivers poses for a shot with USO Servicemember of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Fairchild and his award at the USO luncheon held at the Pierre Hotel here May 24. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People who have an off-the-wall humor, are non deferential, joke about completely inappropriate stuff and are politically incorrect enough to make the stiffest people twitch uncomfortably, make me laugh the most. Woody Allen and Billy Connolly are two of those people, Robin Williams was another, but Joan Rivers stood out the most for me because she was a woman.

I’ve always had a latent ADHD lack of filter in my psychy, (which gets me into a lot of trouble) and that means I have an unhealthy, un-empathetic mean streak at times, particularly when it comes to humor.

That’s why I loved Joan Rivers. 

I could never be as funny as Joan Rivers because I’m too sensitive to the feelings of my audience, and to personal criticism; and more importantly I’m not a risk taker. To be as successfully funny as Joan Rivers you have to take risks, put your life, passion and beliefs on the line, bare your soul and develop an exceptionally thick skin.

Perhaps the plastic surgery helped Joan more than we know.

Because when you take that level of risk, you alienate as many people as you make your friends and you have to be strong for that.

Joan Rivers paved the way, not only for female comedians, but for women in general. She made it okay to to be a ballsy, cussing, strong female in the public eye and she wasn’t afraid to discuss those awkward topics that women had to skirt around in the previous decades, such as gynaecology, death, suicide, marriage and daring to diss your husband in a time when women were meant to still be grateful to the opposite sex.

She took women off that fifties pedestal of being the thinking man‘s trophy to becoming ‘thinking women’.

Moreover, she demonstrated grit, determination and the resilience needed to succeed in what was (and still is) very much a male profession, even when her personal life was ripped apart by the very public suicide of her husband.

Joan Rivers could joke about feminism, religion and men because she had been through the mill and had experienced sexism and discrimination first-hand. But the great thing about Joan was that she survived it to come out the other side with her blisteringly sharp wit and ambition still intact. She was a female icon who was passionate about her job and happy to admit that she lived to work, yet in spite of being a hard-working, single mother, she still managed to cultivate an unbreakable relationship with her daughter.

That’s the ultimate dream for many women – to somehow get the balance right and forge both a successful personal and professional life.

Her honest causticity meant she was often accused of being too personal and insensitive, but many of her critics overlooked the self-deprecating humor she used for the purposes of satire and how she took it on the chin almost as much as she dished it out. Not that she cared what they thought, anyway; she refused to be silenced or put in a box and she never apologized for her words or for who she was.

It would be facile to say that men took her comments personally because she was a woman. It was much more likely that they took offence because she was so brutally astute and perceptive. She certainly had a tongue that was feared and revered in Hollywood and she became a trailblazer for future female comedians.

I loved Fashion Police – partly for the clothes and the decadent excess but mostly for Joan’s quick wit and ability to say what we were all thinking. I’m so glad Joan got her wish and didn’t go from some horribly debilitating terminal disease played out in the public, and we can remember her for her last witty comments about what-not-to-wear.

Criticised for being vulgar and insensitive, Joan proved that although women might have to work doubly as hard as men and need double the thickness of skin to succeed, they can make it being themselves. They don’t have to compromise their ideals, wear a mask or sleep their way to the top. She also proved that women can have a career based on talent rather than looks and youth.

When I die, I hope I make as big a mark as Joan Rivers in terms of personal and professional success.

Judging by the success of her relationship with her now grieving daughter Melissa, her career and the devastation of her close circle of friends, Joan proved that women can have it all, after all.

 

 

 

The Objectification of Zac Efron: (Happy Easter, Ladies)

BREAKING NEWS: The actor, Zac Efron has been publicly objectified. The outrage happened at the MTV Movie Awards when Rita Ora ripped off his shirt after he won the award for best topless performance. Zac Efron has refused to comment but is said to be devastated by the public humiliation as well as the excessive offer from one middle-aged women’s magazine, BIG GIRL, to pose nude.

 

Zac Efron bicep tatoo
Zac Efron bicep tatoo (Photo credit: Tim Evanson)

I make no apology for lapping up what has been termed as the ‘reverse sexism‘ linked to the exposure of Zac Efron’s naked abs recently. The sight brought a personal sense of relief to me – my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome had been getting much worse recently, the result of holding the pause button down too long during the shower scene in The Lucky One.

 

Either he’s an actor who doesn’t believe in ‘sharing’, or Matthew McConnaughey’s philosophy of ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’, or he wants to be taken seriously. Whatever his reasons, sometimes Zac can be a little shy about getting his guns out.

 

The desire to be taken seriously must be a really tough call for those hottie male celebrities out there.

 

My heart bleeds.

 

(Before you get any ideas, Mr Hemworth, we take your acting VERY seriously.)

 

According to Clem Bastow in The Daily Life, whilst some of us sad old cougars were innocently drooling over analyzing Zac’s assets in terms of his physical suitability to his latest role, a lot of men have been feeling compromised at the sight of his…(wait for it)…exposed chest.

 

They are horrified that a young and talented ACTOR should be so sexually exploited.

 

PLEEEAAASSSE!

 

Hey! Instead of reverse sexism, how about calling this ‘equality’?

 

I don’t hear many of those men complaining when Kim Kardashion gets her big fat ass plastered over every magazine front cover or when they get to vote on the best celebrity bikini bod.

 

And I’m damned sure that Zac knew exactly what was happening at that awards show and if it had been Seth Rogan in his place, there wouldn’t have been the same backlash.

 

Can we put this one down to an appreciation of art, gentlemen? Art that has been so perfectly chiseled, it is on a scale of aesthetic beauty comparable to Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. And art should be appreciated.

English: Michelangelo's David
English: Michelangelo’s David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

And if Zac chooses to take his art as far as Michelangelo did with David and go the fully Monty, so be it. Who am I to judge?

 

 

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