A Good Old Feminist Rant
Three recent events in the news have made me think about having a “good old feminist rant “
One was a news story about a well-known man in the football world.
This man who resides in Melbourne was having a relationship with the ex-wife of another well-known man in the footy world. The two men were mates and worked together on a footy show
The former husband was on TV saying how terrible it all was. I could have understood and empathised with him if he had said: “I am devastated and very wounded by this”. Too much to expect from a footy man in his late fifties though? Probably I thought (sigh)! What he did say instead, was this, “you don’t touch a man’s wallet, and you don’t touch his wife”. Then I discovered from searching on Google that this man is only 49! I am even more shocked that a man of his generation is still so entrenched in patriarchal thinking and the ownership of women. He would not even be conscious of this understanding.
So what to do? Even thinking about what he said, fills me with horror. I am despairing for these men in 2016 with no consciousness at all of the patriarchal systems that grind away at women’s self-esteem, many times over, in many different ways. Equally, it is the tragedy for men, to be trapped in such an inarticulate dark tunnel, unable to express emotional pain and instead objectify a woman in the same breath as a wallet.
The next event was a political debate about the environment
The male politician disagreed with a woman environmentalist about a particular issue. He talked over her time and time again, and then he said on national television, “listen here, Lady!” The fact that Lady had a name was clearly irrelevant to him. It was rude for sure, but more than that she was invisible to him as a person and as a woman. He reduced the fullness of her personhood to Lady, a reductionist term intended to denigrate her intelligence and argument.
The third event was another man in the footy world
He expressed a desire to hold a woman journalist underwater for an amount of time and that it would be good if she never rose up again! This did produce an outcry from quite a few people, maligning him for saying comments that were akin to domestic violence. Others, of course, said that that was ridiculous, it was just a joke! I’m sure he meant it as a joke, and the other men who laughed with him would have to. What Mr Popular Footy Man doesn’t understand is that in this climate of Australia, where one woman a week is murdered through domestic violence, that such language is utterly insensitive to these horrifying statistics. We surely need men in the public arena, who at least model language that respects and honours women and doesn’t even dare to jokingly wish them dead! This is not rocket science in my book!
So the saving grace for me, after these three events of unconscious men putting their foot in it big time, was good old Prince William, a privileged white male of a different kind, raising awareness of mental health issues. He was shown on TV encouraging a father to talk with his young son about his emotions and to encourage his son to share his feelings. Well Done Prince William, for using your position responsibly! Why don’t you come over here and teach these Aussie blokes I’ve mentioned, a thing or two!
This is also a call out to men to let me know that you at least get the point I am trying to make and not to lose yourselves in defensiveness at that feminist word. Feminism is about empowerment for all, men, women and children. It is about raising the consciousness of all of us, to be more awake to the oppression of every kind and to do what we can, little by little to bring our offering to the pile of social change.
“For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small, imperfect stones to the pile. Sometimes our stones are, to us, misshapen, odd. Presenting them, we perceive our imperfect nakedness. But also, paradoxically, the wholeness, the rightness, of it. In the collective vulnerability of presence, we learn not to be afraid. I am writing about the bright moments one can experience at the pile. Of how even the smallest stone glistens with tears, yes, but also from the light of being seen, and loved for simply being there.”
Alice Walker (Anything We Love Can be Saved)