The week at work ended with a bang of sorts and a lesson or two learnt (nah, bugger it, I already knew, it just reinforced things).
Seems that in these (bullshit) politically correct times, a bloke isn’t allowed to make a joke about a woman or women, lest he be tagged a misogynist. What a croc. To whit, this email I received from a long-standing friend, which put it in context:
“Sometimes one is encouraged about the future when one sees something like this.
“Specifically, there is an annual contest at the University of Arkansas calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.
“This year's term was: “Political Correctness”.
“The winner wrote:
“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.”
I had made a couple of light-hearted remarks, one about the prime minister and another about women’s tennis (talking of crocs). The bottom line is that I or anyone shouldn’t be seriously judgmental about anyone, but to make a joke … by definition something said to cause laughter; a witticism; a ridiculous thing, is different. It’s a joke for Christ’s sake. It’s not serious.
And then they trotted out the misogynist line.
“I love women,” I protested. “Yes, but in the Sam Newman manner doesn’t count” was the response.
Jesus wept. The crocs rolled on.
No one seems to complain when I (or anyone) jokes about a bloke but that seems that’s kosher. Or AFL. I often say that it’s a shit game and no one ever sees that as me slamming men and their sporting endeavours.
It’s no different as far as I can tell. It’s still a joke.
What has the world come to when you can’t have a crack about someone, male or female … even something self-deprecating as in “I’m an old bastard with shit dress sense” (is truth a defence or do I need to take myself to HR?)… without being labelled by some blinkered person/s with an agenda to push. Am I suddenly a paid-up member of some misanthropic society? Well no. I love women. I love men (and not in the Elton John way). I love people. Even some pets and most plants. Old cigarette tins too. Door knobs, fire engines, tents, forks, dictionaries … yeah, there’s probably a list of things I love. I also have a soft spot for a bit of humour … it makes the world go around … be it close to the bone or whatever. I love to laugh.
The people who gave me the misogynist tag went, I know, to several things during the recent comedy festival. I can’t imagine either of them yelling “misogynist bastard” during the shows. They were probably laughing (I hope anyway).
Lighten up people, have a laugh when there’s one on offer, but stand together shoulder to shoulder when there’s a serious issue that affects some or all of us. We’re all in this together.
Let’s fight for equality for everyone full stop. I’m with you. As I’ve written in The Age op-ed pages, there are too many schisms in society already. Let’s close ’em up and get on with it. (I’ve posted the full piece after this post.)
The last word on it. I read last Thursday a fantastic Mouthing Off column about Virginia Trioli’s take Slutwalk. The Weekly Review hits the streets today and I reckon Virginia's column should be mandatory reading for everyone.
After work, I dragged my allegedly misogynist arse home to meet the man who was coming to service/check my smoke alarms
... all good … grabbed a quick chat with my son, Liam, in Vanuatu, and the decided to get out of town for the night, bound for my brother’s place on the Bellarine Peninsula. They have a fantastic native plant nursery at Curlewis.
A quick call to see whether they needed anything brought down (other than some wine although bro Phillip doesn’t drink) was the first thing to do. Had a chat with my sister-in-law, Alexis, and I offered to cook dinner is she was OK with it. “You can cook any time you like,” she said. Done.
I made a detour to the South Melbourne Market and hit the Oriental grocery shop to buy goodies to make some aromatic soup with shredded chicken, green vegetables, egg noodles and vegetable dumplings (see the recipe below).
The trip down provided a first. I stopped at just one red light (in Geelong) for the whole trip. I love cooking at their place because they have a six-burner stove top … a new set of sharp knives helped heaps too.
It’s always good to spend time with family ... God knows, there aren't too many of my family left ... shooting the breeze about what’s going on in their lives and yours. They have plenty going on, what with the business, the (possible) move back to the Grampians, the comings and goings of their three daughters … me, well mine’s kind of a closed book.
It was dinner for four … Shannon, eldest daughter Lisa’s boyfriend was there … and there were no complaints. There were no complaints either about the Heathcote shiraz or the Goulburn Valley cab-sav, which sustained us through a night of chats before the need for being under a doona became a priority.
It’s always great in the morning there (after a couple of buckets of tea and a smoke) to wander around the nursery sussing out new stuff and chatting to customers. Middle daughter Katherine also works there. She’s a treasure (they all are) and one of the most natural people you could ever wish to talk with. Knows her plants too.
They’ve added a range of bush tucker plants to the mix, which are selling well. Kate gave me a lemon myrtle and a mountain pepper to take home. They’ll be a good incentive to get back into the garden and fire up the collection of edible stuff I grow, given that my weekends at the moment are free (read expensive but solo). The lemon myrtle is, well, lemony in the extreme, while the leaves of the mountain pepper are sensationally peppery. Can’t wait to try them in a recipe.
I also snaffled a few jars of goodies … Outback Lemon Sauce (lemon myrtle), Davidson’s Plum Sauce (indigenous Davidson’s plums) and Mallee Desert Lime Sauce (desert limes) … again, I can’t wait to try them.
As always, it’s all too soon the time to head back to the big smoke to do the stuff that needs to be done … whatever that is.
Not a lot was the verdict other than to get something for dinner, which turned out to be a great one-pot dish.
Spaghetti with a lemon sauce and asparagus. Too easy.
All you need is the rind and juice from one lemon, plenty of olive oil, plenty of freshly grated aged parmigiano reggiano, some green and some white asparagus and baby spinach.
While the pasta is boiling (in lots of salted water), you get the rind and juice from the lemon, the olive oil (as much as you reckon but no too much … enough to coat the pasta) and the reggiano into a bowl and mix it until it looks creamy. About two minutes or so before the pasta is ready, snap the woody bits from the asparagus spears and cut it into about three-centimetre bits and throw it into the water with the pasta. Done.
Drain the pasta, put it back into the pot, throw in a handful of spinach and the creamy mix and stir it through the pasta. Some finely chopped parsley doesn’t hurt, grate some more parmigiano reggiano onto it, break off a decent chunk of the fresh baguette and enjoy. A Clare Valley riesling (I bought a case during the afternoon) made for a memorable meal … all in about 10 minutes.
There’s still enough baguette left for a decent bruschetta for lunch the next day, just the thing to sustain me before I head out for a night of chamber music at Lina’s wine bar. Two cellos, two violins and decent food and wine … sounds like a good plan.
I know it’ll get me Bach time and again.
And for the record, my Age op-ed piece on feminism.
We don't need feminism to fight inequity
December 11, 2007
Society needs fewer schisms, not the imagining of more.
OH, PLEASE, Karen Murphy (Opinion, 4/12), the revolution is over. For heaven's sake, give feminism, that hoary old chestnut (or should that be whorey, given your attack on women?) a rest.
If I may, I'd like to run over a few salient points.
In mourning the death of feminism, you said: "In fact, I feel like a slave released from a plantation after the American Civil War, who struggles to adjust to freedom, only to see my fellow slaves creep back into servitude."
As far as I am aware, men, yes men, were and are also victims of societal slavery.
On you go: "More and more Australian women are marching with eyes wide open back into slavery, holding up their slender arms to receive the shackles that some of us tried to remove, and taking their daughters with them."
Perhaps it was an oversight, but some probably have sons, not to mention fat arms. Still, it's good to know that they are willingly going back to what I assume is some sort of domesticity with their eyes wide open. Seems they are interested in getting on with their lives and not interested in being unnecessarily labelled.
Then you trotted out the theory that capitalism is behind it all: "… the notion that earning money is without a moral component. But it goes deeper than that, as if we have all been sold the emperor's new clothes of sexual glamour. No, ladies, it's not glamorous, it's just naked."
Ah, well, I'll be damned, suddenly they're ladies.
And then your bullet points, and by my reckoning a lot were blanks, where you tell of those you hold to account.
■All the lap dancers, strippers, topless barmaids and well-educated prostitutes who do it for the money.
Men are dancers, strippers, topless for many reasons, and some, possibly well-educated, although I can't state it as categorically as you, work as prostitutes.
■ Women participating in pornography. Men degrade themselves, too.
■ Women who post tawdry "raunch" photos of themselves on the internet.
Yes, men too.
■ Women who model in degrading advertisements who do it for the money.
Again, men do it for the same reason, although you may have forgotten to mention ego.
■ Women who have cosmetic surgery just when their faces are becoming interesting, and breast enhancements to make themselves desirable.
■ Women who claim they have Brazilian waxes for themselves.
A full (should that be fool?) body wax is not uncommon among men.
■ Women who refuse to have an argument with their male partners over the sharing of household duties.
You made that up. And who, apart from you, says all women have male partners?
■ Women who have caesareans so their vaginas remain tight.
I'll concede that one.
■ Women who claim stiletto heels are comfortable.
I don't know any woman who has ever claimed that.
■ Mothers who give their daughters make-up or hair dye before they turn 10.
Fathers give their sons hair gel. My eldest son uses my mud pack night mask as well.
■ All the women who participate in soft-porn music clips.
Don't forget the men.
■ All the women who do pole dancing instead of a non-sexual gym work-out.
Name three. By your reckoning, push-ups must be a very risque form of exercise.
■ All the female sports stars that strip to raise money.
I believe sportsmen have done this. And it's "who", not "that".
You say that women don't say no to this sexualisation because the boys won't like them if they do.
Boys? How patronising can you get, unless you meant to say girls? It's men, males.
Ms Murphy, you've obviously taken the time to watch (look at, scan, ogle or admire — your call) all of the things you mention. How else would you be authoritative enough to comment? All in the name of research, eh?
But unlike you, I'm not after what seems to me a cheap shot.
Yes, I agree women don't have their rightful wage parity with (can I mention us again?) men, and, yes, women are still over-represented in a low-paying, casualised workforce, although a tour of any number of workplaces may reveal that men do menial, badly paid work, too.
And while it's a good idea to have standards on what our kids can and cannot watch/read, there's also the responsibility of parents, teachers and mentors to ensure that impressionable kids grow up respecting those around them.
Oh, did I mention that my boss is a woman? That she's unafraid to give me the rounds of the kitchen (although I know I spend more time in there than she does). I respect her for that, because I know where I stand in an excellent working relationship. But I digress.
I grew up when it was OK for a man to introduce his wife as Mrs John Smith. My father demanded his tea on the table at 5.30, and heaven help my mother if it was late, or the dessert wasn't to his standards. Physical violence was on the menu and played many a part in my nightmarish early years.
It inspired me to think of and treat women as they deserve — as equals.
So, let's work together and forget the crap. God knows (I've heard she does) that there are already too many schisms in society.
Resurrecting the call to feminist arms the way you did is driving another wedge where it's just not needed.
It was a disservice to women … and men.
Michael Vaughan is a staff journalist.
ME IN A NUTSHELL
- G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.