4 Apr 2005, Comments (0)

To HRT or not to HRT

Author: Helen

Martin Flanagan writes on the Paul Hester suicide.

Great. I love Martin Flanagan and always read his articles.

Hester was 46. The years approaching 50 are solemn ones for a man. No doubt they are for a woman too, but women have the huge biological clock of menopause driving their mid-life direction. For men it’s more cerebral or, rather, less obviously physical.


Well, I suppose I was being unduly optimistic but I had this idea that menopause was merely one aspect of the ageing process and I had no idea that it should “drive my mid-life direction”. What the…?

If Hamlet had been a woman, maybe he (she) wouldn’t have bothered with all that angsty existential stuff, but just pottered about muttering “To HRT or Not to HRT?!”

And the “obviously physical” bit, well, I’ve read my D H Lawrence, I know we’re just earthy creatures. We don’t have this truck with the cerebral stuff.

Big questions form in the head. What have you done with your life? The answer can easily look like not very much. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? If the answer is that you have to go even harder, how do you find your second wind?

Nup. Never occurred to me, at 47, to think about any Big Questions, like am I content with what I’ve done with my life, or any of those Big Issues like the environment, government, water issues and the like. Never lain awake at night fearing death. No, I’m sorry but my uterus is a FULL TIME JOB.

Can a revival of the “do women have souls” debate be far behind, I wonder? Perhaps it should be “do newspaper columnists have any brains?”

Terry Lane’s had a bout of uncharacteristic silliness, too. I could see this one coming, though, because while Terry is a tiger on economic rationalism , privatisation and the politics that goes with them, he’s kind of untutored on feminism and a bit terrified of (and insulting towards) the whole thing.

Why educate Rugby and AFL footballers on sexual behaviour? Why single them out, he wonders? Why not golfers and lawn bowls players? Well, perhaps because we have plenty of evidence of sexual assaults by Rugby and AFL players (and not by golfers or lawn bowlers) and we have a fair idea of the psychology and social dynamic behind their behaviour.

And, one wonders, did anyone in caucus have the testicles to stand up to the witch-hunters and say: “Now look here. Why are we proposing a niceness education program for the footballers? Has anyone thought of educating the girls to take some responsibility for themselves?”

And then he goes on to quote Camille Paglia. A “feminist”. Excuse me while I splutter coffee.

Now Terry is the bloke who published an essay about sitting on the tram, or train, and musing about how uncomfortable he feels about the way those ber-loody feminists are making all the women see men as potential rapists. (The essay has been taken down, so I’m describing this from memory. Lane’s website has become a bit of a placeholder, devoid of content, so it’s no longer possible to find his older stuff, and he doesn’t keep an archive.)

It’s actually the other way around. It’s people who constantly harp on the “responsibility” of women for their own sexual assault– the “don’t go through the car park in a miniskirt” idea– who see all men as potential rapists. Why else would they deem it necessary to be on guard against all men at all times by limiting their personal freedom of movement and dress code?

People can’t have it both ways. Either men are uncontrollable, in which case women should be defensive at all times, or they are able to control themselves – as Danny Blay points out here. Which idea do you think is less insulting to men?

Comments (0)

  • Zoe says:

    Anytime the answer is Camille Paglia, the question is just not worth asking.

  • Helen says:

    Mmf! Coffee on keyboard moment, again.

  • David Tiley says:

    Another great balcony moment. Always worth the wait.

    I agree totally about Flanagan. Fantastic writer when he hasn’t parked his brains in a shoebox behind a tree.

    I think you are right about the answer too. It’s rock and roll.

  • cs says:

    tks Helen.

    plus a further coffee-spill, alas. Paglia has a voice that could cut glass, which is full-stop to me in any event. Yet, amidst all the crap and wind (and that voice!), occasionally she wanders into some interesting territory. Just sayin’.

  • Zoe says:

    Like her view in Sexual Personae that gay men are cooler than straight people because they have sex in alleys?

    “Interesting” is one word.

  • cs says:

    Look, she is frequently ridiculous, and just as frequently deliberately outrageous. Let’s be straight about that, so to speak.

    But she is right in that paganism was never completely destroyed by its conquerors, even if she frequently stuffs up the analysis. From this, I also think her challenging of the idea that sexism is created by the social order has something going for it, since it is the breakdown of social order – as in war – that results in so much rape.

    But hey, I’m no Paglia expert. Only an occasional reader, who often thinks he finds a nugget here and there, amid all the crap.

    Oh, and she knows how to write, ploughing a weakness for this reader.

  • Zoe says:

    You are kidding when you say that she knows how write, aren’t you?

  • cs says:

    No. I find her a breeze to read, to be honest – unless, of course, I am in a mood to object to every other sentence. She is a skilled (self) publicist. Actually, come to think of it, that might be her only real skill.

  • Helen says:

    CS, I’m not sure about the point about rape / war – what gives the men the notion they are entitled to rape in the first place? As someone who’s “untutored” myself (I mean, no academic background in feminist studies per se, just history plus my own reading) I would think it is quite straightforwarldly explained by the idea that rape is about power, not just sex. And “social breakdown” doesn’t mean we return to being blank slates — men and women still have the original templates of what they should and shouldn’t be able to do in their minds, even though infrastructure and government might have broken down. Even though more and more terrible crimes might have been committed, events will still be moulded to some extent (note that qualifier!) by what people have experienced in “society” previously.
    I think.

  • cs says:

    I may well be wrong Helen. I just recall the point struck me when I read Sexual Personae, but I would have to revisit it to recall exactly why, which I might do when I get a mo’. Good thing you have a friendly paced blog.

  • cs says:

    Sorry not to get back Helen. I started to re-read camille, and became so put-off I couldn’t be bothered. And then, on the same topic but even worse, from a conservative blogger I generally hold in quite high regard, I read this:


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