Women. It seems they’re everywhere these days.
This very week we’ve seen evidence that this is so, with Kathryn "Bigger than the average Elow" Bigelow winning the Best Director Oscar — an amazing sign of how far we’ve come. It wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t allowed to direct movies because it was thought that the radiation from their ovaries would damage the film stock. Of course, today we realise that this can be controlled with medication and so a whole new cinematic world has been opened up to women everywhere.
But it’s not just the movies that women have conquered like a bunch of shapely Vikings. It’s everything! Why, this week even began with International Women’s Day. That’s right — a day, just for women. All around the world, the day belonged to women, and that’s pretty special. There’s no International Men’s Day, after all. (Well, there is, but it looks pretty lame.) So all in all, it seems like women can be very proud of themselves, having managed to score themselves a Day, joining such esteemed concepts as Peace, Biodiversity and Talking Like A Pirate.
So you’d think women everywhere would be slapping each other on the back, popping the champagne corks, sitting back with some fine cigars and basking in the glow of a job well done, wouldn’t you?
You would be wrong. Instead, sad to say, many women have chosen — and I don’t wish to be controversial, but I’ve noticed this is a teensy bit of a habit with a lot of them — to complain.
It appears that International Women’s Day, so far from being a reason to say, "Well done girls, let’s kick off the shoes and have a hot tub," is in fact just another excuse to have a moan about how hard everything is.
For example, in spite of all of women’s great leaps forward, we still get carping, persnickety articles like this one by Sharman Stone, going on and on about the "gender pay gap".
Now look, I am all for women making a stand on social issues — it’s really pretty sexy — but Sharman, change the record, darling. We know women are earning 17 per cent less than men on average. You don’t have to keep telling us, over and over again. We know about it and we’ll get around to it, OK?
Sharman, it’s like when you ask your charming husband Douglas to fix the lawnmower, and he says he will, but three weeks later it’s not fixed. Well, he hasn’t forgotten, he just had to clear up a few things first. He had a jigsaw to do. He had to buy some stamps. Equal pay is a lot like that. We’re on it, but we have a few other things to do beforehand. There’s broadband, for example. The education revolution. Increasing Winter Olympics funding. Give us time. If there is one factor that has caused 95 per cent of the problems in the world throughout history, it’s men being rushed by women. That was the whole problem with Gallipoli, for starters. So you know, Sharman, get off our backs. Have some freaking patience.
Don’t get me wrong. I like women. I love women. Some of my best friends know some women and I always enjoy hearing their amusing stories about them. So it’s not out of anti-woman sentiment that I write this; it’s out of a very real fear that women — bless their hearts — are their own worst enemies.
Or take the furore that has sprung up lately about "vajazzling" — the process by which a lady affixes pretty trinkets and sparkly gewgaws to her intimate areas for the purposes of aesthetic enhancement. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
And yet, bizarrely, some of the "sisterhood" object even to this innocent little bit of genital embellishment. They’re somehow angry that other women might want their bits to look their best. Why? If a lass wants to glamourise her girl-nook, where’s the harm? I know I would, if I had a vagina, but I don’t, and I curse that fact daily. Because you can’t vajazzle a penis — it’d just look silly. It’s like strippers: a woman taking off her clothes for money is a thing of beauty and inspiration — a sort of anatomical poem — but a man doing the same is, technically, a hate-crime.
And I know if I ever encountered a vajazzled lady-region, I would be delighted. It would be like going into Aladdin’s cave — who knows what wonders I would find there? Exciting stuff!
But no, say the feminists, we mustn’t have magic and excitement in our lives. We must live out dull, grey existences without surprises, without thrills, without sequinned labias. THANKS, feminism.
And of course, when it comes to feminism, we know who to blame: Germaine Greer, whose motherwork The Female Eunuch conveniently celebrates its 40th birthday this year, although not literally, since it’s only a book and can’t really celebrate anything.
To mark the occasion, public intellectual and breezy bohemian Louis Nowra wrote a stirring piece in which he analyses the intent of the book (bad), the influence the book has had on modern womankind (none), and made the salient and reasonable point that Germaine Greer is a mad old bat whose appearance is hideous and offensive to normal, decent human beings.
And for this mild set of observations, the poor fellow has been relentlessly pilloried by a succession of screeching, hectoring, human magpies, each more shrill and blatantly hormonal than the last.
This nefarious assault hurts all the more because this is a man who had such a profound influence on my own intellectual development, with Cosi, a play which back in high school opened my eyes so vividly to the ability of writers to say things about subjects, and which affected me so deeply that to this day I have a phobia of being sung to by mental patients. Such a giant of Australian culture being savaged — and for what?
Let’s look at the facts: Nowra wrote that young women love shopping more than ever — and they do!
I was at the shops just yesterday, and there were women everywhere. I couldn’t turn around without seeing one, no matter how hard I tried. It was like being caught in the middle of a thunderous stampede of oestrogen-buffaloes, and let me tell you, they were loving it. The smiles on their dear little faces! The simple joy they were deriving from handing over money and receiving goods and services in return! Oh it was a delight to watch a cherubic young filly as she stepped up to a counter, swiped her card with childlike glee, and then skipped merrily away clutching a discount 10-pack of underpants. I could tell she’d be happy for days.
It’s all women want, really: a little bit of commerce, the chance to enter a PIN every now and then. The occasional food-court kebab. Women are simple folk, with simple tastes, and all the more endearing for it. I’m sure Germaine "Hold on while I urinate on Bindi Irwin’s soul" Greer would disagree, but with all due respect, I think Louis Nowra, a man who had several female relatives, knows a bit more about what women want than someone who looks like his demented grandmother. I mean, if you met Louis Nowra’s demented grandmother at the post office, would you trust her judgement?
The point is, Nowra was quite right: women today have proven, through their love of purchasing things and stringing tinsel about their nethers, that The Female Eunuch was a bit of a fizzer. The ladies read it and said, "no thanks, Germaine, we’ve got better things to do than sit about knocking back menstrual martinis and bitching about bras; there’s bargains to be had! Pass me the hot glue gun, Tenielle!".
And all Nowra did was gently point this out and tastefully suggest that Greer perhaps should not have wasted her life in quite so pointless and repellent a fashion. And yet his mild views make him the subject of horrific rancour from the likes of Helen Razer, who tore into him like a Boxing Day sale.
For a start, Razer uses the most appalling language — hardly ladylike, and not at all the way to go about promoting emancipation. I can’t imagine Nelson Mandela ending apartheid if he’d gone strutting about bellowing "Free the cocking blacks, arsemothers!" and such vulgarities. Also, let’s be frank, Helen, that sort of thing is not going to help you land a man — although if I didn’t know better, I’d almost think some women nowadays didn’t even want to.
But the main point I’d deliver to the likes of Miss Razer is this: there is no need to resort to petty personal abuse and insults, just because someone called one of your heroes a dried-up old crone who needs to shut her gummy maw. Don’t get so emotional — I know you’re a woman, but still.
And so it goes on. Men bend over backwards to make women feel welcome and valued and pretty and women just keep nagging and finding fault with everything. No matter how much ground we give, we still get calls to smash the patriarchy, we still get moping about pay gaps, we still get those frigging tampon ads. If it weren’t for Bettina Arndt, a man could go off women altogether.
Is this constant complaining, this constant grasping need for more, this permanent dissatisfaction with everything, gracious? Is it nice? Is it the Australian way? Well, it is, a bit, but is that something to be proud of?
Can’t women just stop complaining and just appreciate how far they’ve come? The mountain they’ve scaled? When Edmund Hillary scaled a mountain, he didn’t stand there whining, "Oh come on, why can’t I go a bit higher?" No, he threw up his hands happily and shouted "I am the King! Bow before me, Earth!" And why? Partly because he had altitude sickness, but mostly because he was a gracious and respectful gentleman, something I wish I could say about some of these so-called "women".
I guess the point I’m making is this: women have done wonderful things, and they ought to be proud of themselves. And that’s not to say there’s still a lot more to be done, of course.
But honestly, you shouldn’t worry your pretty little heads about that, ‘kay?
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