Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Feminism Is Not A Folly

I have noticed that Feminism is a sticky word to slide into conversation, and it strikes me as odd. Why shouldn’t young men and women identify as feminist? Someone suggested to me, that perhaps we are too far removed from the need for traditional feminist ideals. To this I say, fuck yourself with a cactus. The premise of feminism has and always will be equality. Equality across every aspect of our existence. And with one female in Tony Abbott’s new cabinet I think it can easily be seen that this is yet to be achieved.
I asked one of my friends if they identified as a feminist. She said she shaves her legs and so doesn’t really buy into that bullshit. Another friend told me to stop caring so much. Feminism means different things for different people.  This all just made me more confused about the perception of feminism and the role of women in our society. I didn’t realize the amount of hair we choose to harvest on our body, affects our support for women’s rights. Why can’t a clean shaven man be as supportive of equality for women as that of a lesbian with some righteous pubes?

Our media are stupid and we let them control a great deal of what we think about everything. A large portion of us still believe that a feminist is a bra-less man-hater who could braid the hair from her armpits to the floor while counting her collection of coupons for the local abortion clinic – because all feminist are pro-choice, right? The media have lead us to believe that feminism is about strength and ruthlessness (which to a certain extent is very accurate) but they have also stereotyped feminism into something ugly and brutal when it simply isn’t. 

During the first two years of her term as Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard stated I want to govern for all Australians. She refused to label herself as female because it was not something she identified as being relevant to the way in which she lead our nation as head of the Labor party.  I thought this was a really powerful statement, not just for women but for everyone. It extends beyond sexism to the wider issue of acceptance. And yet, one dumb ass in my year 11 Art class still said, Its like she isn’t proud of being a woman.
The same kind of Assholery exists in those who believe Tony Abbott can’t be a misogynist because he has a wife and children.  As a great friend of mine would put it, that is really cute. Do you also go around telling people that Hitler can’t have warranted the killing of millions of people because he was a vegetarian? Gillard’s speech regarding misogyny was made in the most political setting humanly possible, and yet it transcended any politics. The video went viral in a matter or minutes because it resonated with Australians who have been affected by sexism. Her public adherence to feminism towards the end of her Prime Minister- ship only made her message more powerful. Julia Gillard is a testament to feminism existing in a contemporary sense.  Gender does not need to be a boundary or a definition or an identity, because we are all human.

Being proud of your gender is important, but it isn’t everything. 70% of our population enter the world via vagina and 50% of us own one. The vagina is fabulous, and I love it as much as the next person, but the penis is also a fucking awesome appendage. Without each other, we are nothing. Men and their penises can play just as an important role in feminism as women and their vaginas. I think High School Musical was being very pro-feminism when they sang we are all in this together.

I think the point I am trying to make is that everyone should be feminist. Feminism is for those who own a vagina, penis, both and those who don't want to own their genitals. Feminism is for Christians, Hindus, Atheists or people who belong to cult. It is for the Chinese, Greeks, Italians and Native Americans. It is for those who are attracted to men, women, both or neither. Feminism is for cat lovers, dog lovers and my neighbours who decided to purchase a couple of ducks. It is for the rich, the poor, the blind, the bipolar and the healthy.  Feminism is for those who deal, do and hate drugs. Those who have children, want children or are barren. It is for the people who drive a Honda, and the person you sat next on the bus. Feminism is not about the hair on your body but the fact that the owners of vaginas are diminished to be lesser individuals.

Feminism is not a party exclusively for those who have a uterus. Feminism is simply about equality. Why not identify as a feminist?

Friday, 20 September 2013

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Things I Have Done

I haven’t written for quite a while and I am sorry. I am struggling to handle any aspect of my life adequately; in consequence I am making a string of stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid decisions (please cue Bad Decisions, Bitch Prefect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjaA25yfhYY). I have been in a bit of a creative lull which has only been consoled by consumption of $8 bottles of Red Wine.  I am slightly jaundice, but I only assume it is because my liver loves me.

"Bad Decisions, bad life decisions, everyday."
In my absence I have done a lot of stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid things. I have watched too much Doctor Phil and written love letters to too many influential members of society (I will post my letter to Julia Gillard in the coming days). I have been offered payment in exchange for drifites with someone I have not seen for more than half a decade (I still don’t fully understand either). I become immersed in the world of ass-coinery-self-portraiture (they say curiosity killed the cat). I sat with heartbreak in a ute. I have gotten drunk with exes/ played boggle with exes/ slept with ex's brothers/ cut an ex’s hair (I think this is where people commonly try to apply the term “YOLO”).  Last night, after being drunk at a work function I salsa danced in the top of Queen Street Mall with a man old enough to be my father’s father (my grandfather).  He chewed Extra peppermint gum and let me wear his fedora, so I figured he was alright.

Salsa finished, the final chorus of Hip Don’t Lie faded away and the group of strangers who had been united through the swaying of hips dispersed; and I felt incredibly lonely. I noticed an old woman lying on a bench. I use the term “notice” rather deliberately, because I know she is always there. But last night, at 9pm was the first time I allowed myself to notice her. I sat next to her, and offered her the piece of gum I had managed to wrestle off my old, perverted salsa partner. She took it. I bond with a lot of people (with the exception of my orthodontist) through chewing gum. The actual exercise of chewing gum is pointless; it literally achieves nothing (other than, perhaps some fresh breath). Someone could live their entire life, not chew a single piece of gum and be no better or worse for it. We spoke briefly, about her son and about the dicks that exist in our society. She spoke about everything with such detail, which seemed to make her increasingly hopeless. Her face was incredibly gaunt, and her mouth was drawn firmly. It almost looked as though the cigarette dangling from her mouth was a mere intension of her face rather than a foreign body. We exchanged adoration for each other’s taste in cardigans. And as I got up to leave her, she just held out her hands; one was palm up and the other palm down. And she said “These hands used to create. But now I fucking won’t even let them beg, because I am too fucking proud” Cackling she pulled out another cigarette and we parted ways.  

I slowly migrated against the crowd across the bridge to Southbank. I feel like my life is a struggle against the crowd. Suddenly I found myself standing in front of my favourite busker. I think buskers have this incredible power to influence people momentarily without them realizing it. When in a crowd, music is the only thing that makes me feel less alone. It was 9.55 pm, and the man who I had come to see was packing up. I just stood and watched; had I been older and more intimidating and perhaps male he, may have thought I wanted to be his non-consensual bum buddy, or something.

And when I involuntarily started weeping, he started playing.
Dirty old river must you keep rolling, flowing into the night.
…. As long as they gaze on waterloo sunset, they are in paradise.

I don’t remember when I first started listening to Waterloo Sunset. But there was a period of at least one month where I felt like it never ended. Last night, felt like it never ended. My initially reluctant tears rapidly morphed into involuntary sobbing and the busker continued to play the song I had wanted to hear all night. He finished, and then naturally started to make inquires about my wellbeing; because I literally must have seemed like a mentally unhinged human being (…well). I offered him gum; and we bonded.
I play because I like connection. Connection of the people who say I suck, who try to take my money (yes, that happens) connection of the people who smile because it reminds them of a better time. Or people like you who come and stare at me and cry. Because I know someone more than myself is getting something out of it.
He then packed up, wished me both caution and luck with my public drinking endeavors and fled into the night.

It’s funny, as I write this it has just struck me as peculiar that I don’t know the names of either of the people I met last night. I don't think knowing there names would change anything. I connected intimately with these individuals last night. Initially it was about the gum; because gum changes nothing. Nothing changed last night, the lady in the olive jumper is still homeless and busker's dog still died two days ago.  I claim I hate people. But I don’t think that is entirely true. People are fucking fascinating, if you let them be. People who have known passion and known affection are delicate and broken and I like that.

Everything in my life is so acutely unusual at the moment; I don’t know how to make sense of anything that is occurring. I don’t know why I choose to drink, or get offered some drifty payment or why I choose to become very emotionally invested about things that don’t mater. But the bizarre-ness and unknown of everything is almost making it normal. I feel so strongly that my life is a little like chewing gum, whilst it may not change anything or impact anyone there are moments of goodness. And if that is as good as it gets, if this minty flavoured misery amounts to nothing more than the stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid things I do. I'm ok with that; at least it gives me something to write about.
waterloo sunsets fine