A would-be feminist rant

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Women over
populate my life.  Four daughters,
three sisters, and a professional life both in the world of psychology and of
writing that these days is dominated by the presence of women.  It is the same wherever I go.  
The Melbourne Writers’ Festival.  Check out the audience: all those
heads, the dyed or otherwise greying hair of women, mostly older women, though
there are some young ones in between. 
Maybe a quarter of them at most are men.  I do not know the statistics.  The ratio is much the same in psychotherapy circles, one man
to every four women. 
I prefer a more balanced mix of gender, including the in between,
the hybrids, the transgendered.  I
tell myself I would prefer there were more men present, at the same time I am sensitive
to the degree to which men tend to dominate conversations.  
Research suggests that from the
beginning in early childhood at kindergarten and primary school, teachers spend
more time addressing the boys. I risk a generalisation here but it seems to me from earliest days
girls learn to communicate with words, whereas boys are more inclined towards
action, including action words.
In September this year, the feminist activist, comedian and all
round ‘nuisance’ woman, Catherine Deveny was on the panel of Q and A with the likes of Peter Jensen, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney.  Catherine Deveny gets bad press as a
loud mouth.  She invites it to some
extent because of some of the things she says, like her comment about Bindi Erwin and the hope that she ‘get laid’.  
A non-academic Germaine Greer of sorts, Deveny by and large is on the
side of the underdog, on the side of women, but she too enjoys her friendships
with men and what seems like a loving partnership with a man with whom she
cares for two sons, though to her great pride the couple remain unmarried.  I befriended Deveny on Face Book
because I enjoy her style; though I watch other peoples’ faces crumple at the
mention of her name.
I mention Deveny here because of the battle over the number of words
ascribed to her during this session of Q and A.  Several twitterers and bloggers considered her to have
dominated the show.  She cut across
the other panelists, people complained, when in fact she did no such
thing. 
Chrys Stevenson analysed the data and found that as is typically the
case the men used more words, and cut across people more often, while the two
women on the panel spoke less.  Not
to get into a battle between the sexes, I think about these issues here in my rambling
disjointed and broken way of thinking – I am a woman after all – my father’s
daughter, my husband’s wife.  I
recognize the imbalance of power in my world where women are mainstream but men
get the cream.  The cream of jobs,
the cream of books reviewed, the cream of recognition.
Despite the prevalence of patriotism everywhere, including
and for me especially during my childhood, somehow the men often seem to wind
up worse off than the women who are downtrodden, though not in extreme
cases.  Witness the plight of
certain Muslim women, Indian women, women in deeply patriarchal societies where
to speak out as a woman is to risk getting your head cut off, and not just
metaphorically. 
When I first started to write again, many years ago after a destabilising
event that left me demoralized, I could only seek solace in words on the
page.  I realised then the degree
to which writing has come to be dominated by what Ursula Le Guin has called
‘father tongue.’  Father tongue,
the language of the academy, the so-called objective language that seeks
distance; that resents uncertainty and demands closure.  This as distinct from mother tongue,
the language of mothers and babies, mothers and children, the language that Le
Guin argues is closest to poetry. 
It flies on the wind.  It is
repetitive and simple.  It thrives
on doubt. 
Both languages are essential Le Guin argues but there is a danger
when one presupposes superiority over the other, as evidenced in the hostile
response to Deveny’s non-rational comments juxtaposed to the less virulent
responses to the so-called objective and reasoned thoughts of her fellow mostly
male panelists.  We need both
mother tongue and father tongue to develop what Le Guin describes as native tongue
but this is not easy in a world dominated by the patriarchal.
My sensitivity to such things derives from my life in a family top
heavy with men and this time not only in notion, but also in fact.  There were eleven of us in my family,
six males, five females.  My father
at the head.  He ran the show.  He earned the money.  My mother obeyed.  
At least overtly she obeyed.  If ever she defied him it was a hidden
defiance, one she undertook in stealth. 
That was until she caught my father at my sister’s bedside and the look
on his face told her he had over stepped the mark.  My sister was sitting in bed, the blankets pulled up to her
chin, like a little bird, my mother said, while my father leered. 
‘Get out of here,’ my mother said to my father.  ‘If I ever see you with her again I’ll
kill you.’  
Later she thought my
father’s visits to my sister had stopped, but my mother could not bear to see,
and my sister protected her by keeping my father’s further visits a
secret.
I do not want to suggest that men are the bad guys here and women
are the victims.  We are all in
this together.  The other night at
dinner after a day long writing workshop, four women and one man, we talked of
travels overseas, and one woman, the youngest among us, talked of how she had
been groped six times in India in less that six days until she finally saw
red.  She ran after the man who had
grabbed her breast, and yelled at him that he should not behave so while
squeezing a bottle of water over his head.  She yelled at him all the way down the street and
imagined-hoped, she said, that she had managed to shame him in front of friends
and family.  
‘It happens all the time,’ she said. 
Not to me, I thought. 
But then again I have not travelled through India, or Rome, or the
Middle East where others have told me such extreme exploitation of women takes
place.  And I am over fifty, the
age they say when women disappear from view as sexual objects.
Alas, these unwarranted gropings do not just happen overseas.  I went to the most recent Reclaim the Night march in Sydney Road in Brunswick in October this year.  The march followed closely on the death
of Jill Meagher.  This much
publicized event took Melbourne by storm. 
Jill Meagher was young, beautiful and talented.  She worked in the media.  She had a profile in her ordinary
day-to-day life that drew people’s attention to her, but now she is dead and
her alleged killer is in prison awaiting trial.
There was a storm of protest when Jill Meagher disappeared, mostly
fueled by comments on social media and people’s rage which apparently made it
easier for police to track down the alleged killer.  When I heard they had found him, not only did I feel relief,
the man was off the streets at last, my daughters might be safe, especially the
one who lives in Brunswick close by to where Jill Meagher was raped and murdered,
I also felt sorry for the children of this man, boys or girls, what does it
matter?  
How is it to live your life in the knowledge that your father is a
sexual predator and a murderer?  I
know something of what life is like with a father who sexually abuses his
oldest daughter and moves in the direction of his younger daughters.  And it sucks.  It sucks because it makes you twitchy in relation to all
things sexual.  And it makes you
wary of relations with men.  Not
that I haven’t had my share of them. 
And I have been married for 35 years to a man who even as a successful
lawyer and a man of many talents still struggles to find an identity in a
world, his world dominated by women, his mother, his sisters, his wife and four
daughters. 
He calls it girlie talk when we prattle away in whatever is of
interest to us at the time, the price of the new Funkey shoes, the intricate
details of my daughter’s recent birth of her son, the latest gossip about the
girls at my youngest daughter’s school. 
I am used to my husband’s disdain and often times will try to redirect
the conversation to something that might feel more inclusive of him, but my
daughters are less so inclined. 
It is not simply the gender divide.  The generation gap applies too.  My husband who had his formative years during the hippie
loving seventies now and then comes out with schoolboy humour, lightweight
sexual innuendo to my ears but to my daughters, his jokes are appalling.  He once argued with one daughter and in
the heat of the moment referred to her as a tart.  She objected to the word.  She still does. 
She considers it an affront to have a father who calls her a tart.  He used the term not to describe her
appearance but more because he was angry about her behavior, too long on the
telephone or some such thing. 
I argued with my daughter over her sensitivity to the word.  ‘Bitch would have been better,’ she
said to us, ‘but not tart.  Tarts
are prostitutes.’  My husband
learns to hold his tongue. 
Language changes and with it words take on new meanings.  The politically correct extracts its
toll and plays its part in the power imbalance between men and women. 
When I was young I thought my father ruled the house, but there came
a time when my parents were around the age I am now, not long before my father
died, when the tables turned.  My
mother took up voluntary work with the church visiting impoverished families in
the high-rise estates in Fitzroy.  My father by now had retired.  He did not like her going out while he
was stuck at home alone.  He did
not want her to learn to drive for fear she would never stay home.  Instead he drove her in and out of the
city from Cheltenham every day in order that she should be near.
The tables turned and my father, once the strong one became the helpless
dependent one right up until his death. 
And my mother grew stronger once he was gone. 
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34 Comments on A would-be feminist rant

  1. Andrew
    December 29, 2012 at 3:43 am (4 years ago)

    Just to pick one thing out of your thought provoking writing, like or loathe Deveny, it is the likes of her who change and hopefully improve society. We of a certain age can get very comfortable while tut tutting about things of which we don't approve. Much more of what happens in the world needs to be forcefully challenged and one would hope the Indian girl who was raped and died today did not die in vain.

    Reply
  2. Windsmoke.
    December 29, 2012 at 4:03 am (4 years ago)

    I reckon the bloke who murdered Jill Meagher should be locked away for the rest of his natural life and the key to his cell accidentlly on purpose lost.

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth
    December 29, 2012 at 4:32 am (4 years ago)

    Your writing always fascinates and seduces me — there's something nearly surreptitious about it — the colloquial language and conversational tone juxtaposed with brilliant inferences, and it seems both crafted and natural. This piece is going to haunt me for a while —

    Reply
  4. juliet
    December 29, 2012 at 7:44 am (4 years ago)

    A thoughtful post Elizabeth. I've had so many conversations with other women along these lines. I like the story of the woman who yelled at her groper all the way down the street in India. Good for her.

    Reply
  5. Jim Murdoch
    December 29, 2012 at 8:42 am (4 years ago)

    I am an honorary woman, Lis. The honour was passed to me by my wife and daughter some fifteen years ago but it is still something I value. Carrie was only talking to me this morning about the number of male friends I have online. It’s only a handful but it’s worth commenting on because, certainly over the last twenty years or so, my main friendships have all been with women. I have always preferred the company of women. When I was young my sex drive got in the way and ruined a few beautiful friendships but once I reached my forties—and bear in mind I was an old forty just as I’m an old fifty—I’d lost any real enthusiasm for the chase; my curiosities had been satisfied. But the simple fact is that from my early teens I’ve been more comfortable around women. As the song goes, “You will always find me in the kitchen at parties.”

    This is very much a reaction to the male dominated society in which I grew up. I never felt comfortable with the role of women in our congregation because it was obvious that so many of them could run rings round the males intellectually and, if it came to that, spiritually from what I could see. Okay so Eve screwed up and ate from the tree first. Who’s to say that in time, left to his own devices and bored, Adam wouldn’t have got round to it too with or without the serpent to encourage him? It seems like from then on, at every opportunity women were reminded of their progenitor’s faux pas. This reminds me of the title of an old poem:

            FOR THE DAUGHTERS OF EVE

            I need more than sympathy or pity
            but I'll settle for them
            and even look for them.

            Why can't the blind girl see
            the tears in my eyes
            or the drowning man inside me
            clinging to waves?

             12 July 1985

    I get feminism. In principle I’ve no problems with it except when women want to be on top. Males aren’t better than females and neither are females better than males. We complement each other. In our house I see Carrie as… see, the word ‘equal’ isn’t right here because we’re clearly very different and not equal. The only word that’s really suitable is complementary. She actually excels in areas one might expect a male to but the opposite’s just as true of me. In Milligan and Murphy do you remember the story about the two one-legged men? That started life as a poem for my last wife but it applies just as much to my present wife: we’re both broken but somehow manage to muddle on as a couple where we might have given up as singles.

    I don’t enjoy the company of men on the whole because men are competitive. I’m naturally competitive—it’s one of the few male traits that’s clearly identifiable—and I hate it. Carrie and I have never played as much as a hand of cards in all the years we’ve been married because she’s competitive too; it wouldn’t be fun. I don’t find it fun competing against males but I need little encouragement. Online it’s a little different and, to a certain extent, we’re all genderless. You have a female name and I’ve got a males one but you write words on a page the same as I write words on a page so where’s the difference? I don’t hang around with the kind of males who talk about quintessentially male things so they might as well be females or genderless.

    When my daughter and he husband come and visit it’s him I struggle to talk to. He’s interested in male things: motor bikes, camping, model planes, video games. He reads but not a lot and not the kind of stuff I do. He’s a decent enough bloke and good to her and she’s the one that’s got to live with him so as long as she’s happy I don’t care. I just pray in my dotage I don’t have to go and live with them.

    Reply
  6. Ms Sparrow
    December 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm (4 years ago)

    I find that men are unwitting bullies when it comes to dominating the conversation. Even my son does it to me. I let him even though I feel marginalized as he tells me stuff that he doesn't care I already know.

    Reply
  7. Joanne Noragon
    December 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm (4 years ago)

    There is nothing I would change in your essay and much I could personally validate. Life still comes down to personal choices; we chose to take every action and say every word. We need to take especial care of our choices.

    Reply
  8. ellen abbott
    December 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm (4 years ago)

    so many things to comment on here. for instance, what is it in men that compels them to sexually abuse their own daughters? or to rape a stranger or not stranger? I love that that woman chased her groper down the street berating him. If only all women would take hold of their personal power and do such a thing instead of being ashamed and fearful. Perhaps men would be better behaved if they were called out in public for doing such things.

    As for power, personal or relational, it is my observation that men acquire their power early in life and dominate whereas women don't come into their personal power until later in life when men are declining. I also think men are more dependent on women than women are on men. Perhaps that is why they want to dominate women.

    Now, of course, women have become independent, at least in western cultures. they get educated, they get jobs, have their own money and resources. they don't need men or need to rely on them as in the past which of course changes the balance of power. I don't see that as bad. I only see good coming out of that. I mean, really, how far advanced would we be if we hadn't ignored half the brain power of the human race for 5,000 years? learning to live in equality, and I do believe that men and women are equal, different but equal, is something that most men are still struggling with, hence their tendency to call women's conversation 'girlie talk' as if it is inconsequential or to dismiss them or talk over them in group conversations.

    As for Jim Murdoch's reference to Eve, that story is just one of the oldest instances of men denying the power of women. Eve was a priestess of the Goddess and the snake was a symbol of wisdom. when invading armies came to take over cities and populations, they did so not only by force but also by reworking the religious myths. Not only was their army stronger but their god was stronger too. So Eve, the goddess, and the wisdom of women as represented by the snake, became subservient to the male and the male god and women became the purveyors of all that is wrong with the world. one of many reasons I don't do religion.

    Reply
  9. Macy
    December 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm (4 years ago)

    A lot of interesting points, any one of which would be shot down in flames by even the allegedly left and liberal press here in the UK.
    Refreshing to have the space to air these views on male domination of conversation and the higher ranks of any profession.

    Depressing that pointing this out in any way should be seen as controversial.

    Reply
  10. Kirk
    December 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm (4 years ago)

    The easiest, quickest, most efficient way to feel good about one's self, to achieve that vaunted state of being known as "self-esteem", is to tear another person down. Men tear down women, whites tear down blacks, straights tear down gays, and so on. The torn down groups then proceed to tear down each other. It's something in the human psyche, a desire for status at all costs. It exists in the lower animals, so why not humans?

    Reply
  11. R.H.
    December 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm (4 years ago)

    Well darlings it's NYE but early in the morning and RH has had a marvellous Christmas with lots of laughs and chuckles with girlies young enough to be his daughters and by golly age diff don't matter one bit I adore them and go to hell!

    They are rude they are chatty they are cheeky they are gossipy. Gossip! Good heavens! Anyone not there gets run down.

    During my young spell as a Casanova I succeeded due to one basic insight: women adore compliments. The billion-dollar cosmetics and hairdo industry should tell any fool that.

    They are competitive, even having surgery to outdo each other with bigger tits.

    No man ever put a woman into corsets, high heels or wrinkle treatments.

    It wouldn't matter to me but thank God corsets are gone, middle class men had to go through hell to get a root.

    Feminism has to stop a woman wanting a man. It's got no hope. Only lesbians have no use for a man. It's a mental problem. Feminism is a Western capitalist invention seeking to hide the awful fact that there are poor men women and children. Not a bad trick, middle class women get a small rake off from it and the poor are kept in their place.

    The truth is that until the 1970s all help for the poor came from the middle classes agitating for it. Even the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions were middle class. It took capitalism a while to wake up, promoting feminism: a stooge to obscure real social inequalities.

    I don't think the patriarchy could prevent you from becoming Jane Austen. On the contrary, publishing which is dominated by women would shoot you straight to the top. In the end it's just commerce: books, shoes, breakfast foods.

    In writing there's nothing left that's new. It's all been said. Henry Miller said fuck way back in the 1930s. Tropic of Cancer in which a fuck is all women are had huge sales back then. Feminists would burn it now, but still imagine the word fuck is something new in print.

    I saw Catherine Deveny at Williamstowm writers festival, she lifted her dress and six bank managers fell out. She's commerce, with a grin on her face like a hanged corpse. I've seen her act, it's tiresome. Phyllis Diller was just as ugly and made a mint out of acknowledging it. Deveny who has a personality to match her looks would never do that.
    How unfortunate; that's what women want.

    Reply
  12. Anthony Duce
    December 31, 2012 at 5:23 am (4 years ago)

    I lived in a world of boys and men until into my twenties playing sports and working at the labor intensive of jobs. The world of men is so much less honest and predictable. After college this of course changed. I’ve live in a world of mostly women, from that time through now. What I have noticed most is the honesty and creativity and acceptance of views. Your writing here is so honest and revealing.. I guess that’s the point..
    Happy New Year

    Reply
  13. susan t. landry
    December 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm (4 years ago)

    it's been a while since i checked in with you, elisabeth. what a perfect post to revisit your intelligence and sensibility.–i think of these subjects often, in my own work. happy new year to you–and thank you for the mention of LeGuin's book. just ordered it!

    all best,

    susan

    Reply
  14. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 6:42 am (4 years ago)

    The story of that Indian girl who was raped and murdered inspired me to put up this post, Andrew and I'm inclined to agree with you about the likes of Catherine Deveny. She is at times a force for worthwhile change.

    My only grievance is that she generalises at times in unhelpful ways. But on the other hand, if she were more moderate in her views I doubt she'd attract the following she has, the following that at times makes her more effective.

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Reply
  15. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 6:45 am (4 years ago)

    I can understand your rage, Windsmoke but we must be careful not to interfere with the course of justice. The less said on this matter the better.

    Reply
  16. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 6:46 am (4 years ago)

    I worried this piece was too much of a rant, Elizabeth, to be taken seriously. I'm glad therefore that it resonates with you. Thanks.

    Reply
  17. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 6:49 am (4 years ago)

    I agree with you Juliet, that young woman who threw water over her groper was brave . She did not see it that way herself. She told me she'd just had enough, which is understandable. Imagine then what it's like for the women who have to put up with this sort of abuse all of the time.

    Thanks, Juliet.

    Reply
  18. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 6:57 am (4 years ago)

    Women can be competitive too, Jim, though perhaps not generally in the same way as men. Still a rivalrous female is something to behold. I should know. I can be quite competitive about certain things that matter to me. Mostly I put that down less to my gender than to my position within a large family. In my family you had to be competitive simply to survive.

    I see though that you have the qualities of what you describe as an honorary woman, a certain empathic quality and a wish to nurture, though I reckon men can also have those qualities like women though perhaps it's not as pronounced.

    My husband describes my wish to empathise and nurture as the social worker in me and he may be right but I think there's more than that. I reckon poets as a rule have a heightened sensitivity that suggests their feminine side is well developed.

    We all have aspects of both genders and much in between, though generally one side or another dominates.

    Happy New Year Jim. Did you eat any Haggis?

    Reply
  19. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:00 am (4 years ago)

    Unwitting bullies run in my family, too, Ms Sparrow, but unfortunately they exist on both sides of the gender divide. Still I know what you mean when you talk of a son who insists on telling you how things are when you know the situation yourself already.

    What's that saying? He tells you how to suck eggs. Very tiresome.

    Thanks, Ms Sparrow.

    Reply
  20. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:05 am (4 years ago)

    You're right I'm sure, Joanne. Up to a point we must make choices about how we proceed and informed choices are generally the best way to go.

    But if you think about it there are situations where people don't have much by way of choices. When they are born into situations over which they have no control. I think of this sort of thing happening in war torn countries, in dictatorships and the like.

    But for us well-heeled-better-off-than-many folks in the world – and here I'm making assumptions about you, Joanne – we have choices to make and a responsibility to make them wisely.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  21. Christine
    January 1, 2013 at 7:14 am (4 years ago)

    Interesting reference to Ursula Le Guin, the masculine/feminine polarity and the need to bring these together into some kind of other form. Perhaps We are seeing a challenge to the polarity at present particularly following the murder of that poor woman in India as women are speaking up for their place. I feel for your poor husband trying to find his way/voice amid a household of women and that you speak up for him, too.

    Reply
  22. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:18 am (4 years ago)

    The story of Adam and Eve has long bothered me, too, Ellen. I disagree with biblical interpretations and like you I reckon the story has been used as an excuse to blame women. There are many other interpretations that paint a very different picture as you describe.

    As for the differential dependencies of men and women we can get into polarised arguments along these lines if we're not careful but there is some truthfulness in what you say about a masculine fear of dependency on the feminine that might cause the former to want to repress the latter. And too much of an emphasis on the intellectual and rational, further adds to the imbalance, I'd suggest.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Ellen.

    Reply
  23. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:21 am (4 years ago)

    I agree, Macy, it 's depressing that to air these views becomes so controversial.

    At least in the blogosphere we can speak out against the mainstream, however much we may be preaching to the converted, namely to those who would bother to read such a blog post.

    Thanks, Macy.

    Reply
  24. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:25 am (4 years ago)

    That's a thought, kirk. I had not considered that this wish to tear one another down, this awful pecking order system that seems to exist wherever human beings congregate is part of a wish to elevate our status, but you're probably right in some ways.

    These things are complex, though. When it comes to the gender divide that's a whole fifty percent or so of the population offered reduced status simply by virtue of gender allocated at conception. There has to be more to it.

    Thanks, Kirk.

    Reply
  25. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:29 am (4 years ago)

    I suspect women are not the only ones who enjoy compliments, Robert. Consider yourself. You seem to seek insults at times with your taunts in the blogosphere but I reckon you get pleasure out of some sort of recognition here – not necessarily compliments, otherwise why bother.

    Thanks, Robert.

    Reply
  26. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:34 am (4 years ago)

    My husband once told me he would nt ask a wuestion unless he knew the answer. i asked ther men about this comment, anthony and they seem to understand perfectly. it's a defemsive stance rthat to me seems alien to the idea of getting along and learning. It's probably helped you a lot to be in such a female world, Anthony. it's probably helped your art. As I said earlier to Jim in reference to poets – and I suspect the same might apply to artists – there's a sensitivity that relies on the feminine side of any person necessary for creativity however masculine the approach. In fact you need both the masculine and the feminine and the messiness in between to create something new.

    Thanks, Anthony.

    Reply
  27. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 7:36 am (4 years ago)

    Le Guin's book is wonderful, Susan. I'm glad you enjoyed the link and the post.

    Happy New Year to you, too. It's lovely to see you here again. Thanks.

    Reply
  28. Jim Murdoch
    January 1, 2013 at 9:22 am (4 years ago)

    I wonder, Lis, if you’re mixing up Hogmanay with Burns supper (celebrated on January 25th)? That’s when we Scots make a big deal about eating haggis although I’ve never been to one. Since my parents were of English descent I never ate haggis growing up. In fact I was probably in my thirties before I gave it a go. I loved it and Carrie and I eat it regularly usually with pasta and sweet corn actually rather than the traditional mash and turnips.

    Reply
  29. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 9:32 am (4 years ago)

    The only time I tried haggis, jim was on New Years eve many years ago when some friends decided to cook it as part of their New Year's celebrations. From there I assumed it was a New Year's event. Ours was filled with oats – among other things – as I recall. It tasted fine but the cow's lining for a wrapper put me off. I assume that's accurate, too, though I might well be wrong here.

    I'm glad you and Carrie enjoy haggis, Jim. I'd equate it with eating 'witchetty grubs' – an indigenous delight here- for the yuk factor, but I can be a tad pedestrian in my tastes.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Reply
  30. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2013 at 9:34 am (4 years ago)

    I empathise with my husband, too, Christine. All that feminine angst rolling through our household, but he still manages to stand his ground, most of the time.

    If only gender weren't such an issue for us all.

    Thanks, Christine.

    Reply
  31. little hat
    January 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm (4 years ago)

    I hear what you say but I'm afraid whether its Deveny or a man I have little tolerance for people who use that combatative style and who rarely show respect for or even listen to the other opinions. It's all about them. Deveny loses me and thus I don't hear her.

    Reply
  32. Elisabeth
    January 4, 2013 at 7:55 am (4 years ago)

    I know what you mean about Deveny and others of her ilk, Little Hat. I have very mixed feelings about her and like you, I dislike a combative style, especially one that doesn't allow for other points of view.

    Thanks, Little Hat and happy New Year to you.

    Reply
  33. Anonymous
    January 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm (4 years ago)

    I listened to a radio programme today, on the topic of why men rape. (wait, let me just get my pain pills). I'm in South Africa. I'm sure I don't have to explain our history. As politically liberal as I am … see http://pviljoen.wordpress.com, the post about Graskop … I realised in 1994 that we (women) would have to start the campaigning and raising awareness of women's issues all over again. And so it is. Most of the callers to the presenter of the programme were male and most of them claimed women get raped because of what they wear. No arguing that men are therefore stupid dumb animals and have no control over their bodily functions that should be locked up at 4 in the afternoon, abated the stream of calls with this view. I lived as a single white woman among black people for 14 years. I was totally safe, left to go and come as I please at any time I pleased, by myself and was hardly ever harassed. Precisely because I was white. Black guys are not interested in white women. My black sisters however, really had a hard time of it. There's no way a single black woman makes it one block down the road without being seriously harassed a few times. They're too afraid to fight or talk back. I once lost my temper with a man on a black sister's behalf and got away with it. She, however, was very cross with me. Because she was afraid they would 'get her' later. Luckily this time not.

    That said: I moved to this small country town two and a half years ago. I still haven't adjusted. Don't think I'll ever be able to. Luckily I do not live in the town itself any longer and therefore do not have to face the (white or black) men on a daily basis. Or the women for that matter. The patriarchal attitude of men and the acceptance of this by the women is really in one's face. And although I'm 54, have wrinkles that resembles a rockface, I've been approached quite a few times by men with the view to – jeez, I don't even remember what one calls it any longer, one night stand?, romance, liason? Anyway. I had to show one guy the door, wouldn't take no for an answer!

    I haven't experienced anything like this for at least 25 years!

    Rape is always about power and control of women.

    I read an interesting article about the writer Margaret Atwood. Apparently she did a survey amongst men and women some time ago, forgive me, I do not have it at my fingertips: she asked men why they're afraid of women and their response was they're afraid of being laughed at. She then asked women why they're afraid of men and they were afraid that the men would kill them. A quick google search brought this out on top. Astonishing.

    I also was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. I recently had a memory that I must've blocked out … we were on holiday, my mother couldn't come with. My older sister then about 16 or 17, started an affair with a guy. My father talked to her about being chaste and that he trusted her and that she should look after herself and then turned around and wanted sex with me! This is very difficult. I thought I was over things, but clearly not. My one brother ignored my protestations, on the same holiday. I think they think it is their God given right. To have control over us. My other brother is very different. All this in one family. Christianity is very much to blame for men's attitudes. The Eve story is complete nonsense.

    Reply
  34. Elisabeth
    January 5, 2013 at 1:02 am (4 years ago)

    I agree, pviljoen, rape is about power and control. It's a violent act that ought not get confused with sex. It's an abuse of sex.

    I'm sorry to have stirred up old and painful memories. I suspect we never get over these events from our childhood however much we might work against their dreadful effects through therapy and mourning.

    Still it is good to hear that you at least can fight against these injustices in your own way.

    What a difficult life for you. I'm glad we can at least offer consolation to one another and some place to share our thoughts, however problematic they might be.

    Thanks, pviljoen.

    Reply

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