15 Jan 2008, Comments Off on Take that, Feminist bitchez!

Take that, Feminist bitchez!

Author: Helen

We just spent some time relaxing down at our favourite sleepy fishing village. Gliding along a deep black river in a kayak with the bellbirds a-ringin’. Sitting in rapids with the pressure of the water against my back. Swimming alongside Boychild, out of his depth for the first time. Watching kingfishers dive and kookaburras, like soft cuddly toys. Climbing along a funky homemade boardwalk, carved with the names of local fishermen who have died, out to the dreamy estuary to watch the sun go down.

No pictures, because we dropped the camera among the rocks in the river swimming spot. It got water in it, and it’s cactus.

Because we had the kayaks, and a friend drove us down in his company car, ergo, we took the trailer. The trailer belongs to SO and I, but I have not learned to reverse it yet. This fact is essential to this story. I’ve tried in the past, but even though I thought it would be counter-intuitive and tried to allow for that in my thinking, I haven’t picked up the trick yet. I make no apologies for it either. While the occasions we use our trailer are vanishingly rare, the occasions to reverse it are rarer still. SO can do it in a pinch, but avoids doing so.

So, to backtrack a little, we were sitting around on the first evening doing a catch-up and our friend and his partner were telling about what they were up to and I did what I do very rarely – which is make any reference to blogging or, specifically, being a feminist blogger. I’m annoyed with myself about this sometimes. Why so cowardly? Well, everyone knows how introducing some topics can lead to a world o’pain. Mainstream Australian society still interprets “feminist” to mean “hairy, hates men, ugly, needs a good root hurh! hurh! and did I mention hairy?” Not to mention the fact that even some fairly sympathetic types tend to interpret feminist analysis as a personal criticism, and do not have the intellectual tools to distinguish between “patriarchy” and “men-in-general”.

Generally, I don’t feel like generating kneejerk bitterness and resentment and spending valuable drinking time explaining first principles to people all the time, so my feminism is usually confined to writing.

Friend and Girlfriend (who I’ll call F and K) had just said that they have three home-recorded tracks entered and under consideration for Triple J Unearthed. F is a talented singer-songwriter and K is an accomplished singer. And SO’s business is going from strength to strength, too. So I thought it was reasonable to do a little trumpet-blowing on my own account, for once.
Femmobolsho Awards
I said something like: well, I’ve been busy too! I’ve got a couple of blog posts up for “Best of” in 2007, both at Club Troppo, which is a political blog, and the Femmobolsho awards, which is for feminist blogging. I’ve also been asked to help adjudicate for the Femmobolshos, so I’m not sure of the ethics of that. I think I’ll just give myself a zero. What would you do? But, exciting huh? Yay me!


Then one of those awkward silences where a sort of black cloud of static started to appear around F’s head, like the cloud of dust surrounding PigPen in the Peanuts series. I changed the subject. After all, I was very grateful to be driven to Sleepy Fishing Village by someone else, saving me money and wear-and-tear on our old Mitsubashi, not to mention the driving. I was happy to suck it up and keep the peace.

Fast forward to the next morning, and K is taking me to the launching place with the kayaks on the trailer. I’m not allowed to drive myself simply because it’s a company car and only F and K may drive it for insurance reasons. Did I mention that K has had even less occasion, up to now, to tow trailers than I’ve had?

So, at one point she decided that reversing would be in order, and she got in a bind with it. So she called out to F that she needed help with it. Then she pulled her head back in the window and sighed. “He won’t help us. He said if we’re ber-loody feminists we can reverse our own trailer.”

Eventually we wiggled car and trailer out of the spot we were in.

This illustrates nicely one facet of the backlash mentality; find me deficient in any facet of the toolkit of life skills which hitherto have been the province of men and HAH! I TOLD YOU SO! Youse chicks just want to have all the power and WE’LL STILL HAVE TO OPEN CAR DOORS FOR YOU!! Men are from mars, women are from Venus and they just don’t have the trailer-reversing gene….

I must tell that story to my male boss when I go back to work; he can’t reverse a trailer, either.

Actually, I quite agree with the “try it yourself and don’t lean on others all the time” thing; my female workmate used to encourage people to work out things for themselves, and I’m used to that tough love. But there’s also a place for teaching people so they’re independent in future – like the men were taught, when young, by other men. And saying that explicitly as “punishment” for outing oneself as a feminist (or, in K’s case, simply by sitting next to someone who’s outed herself as a feminist)? Fuck that noise.

And that is an example of why I tend to express my femmobolsho tendencies in my blog, rather than trying to educate my immediate circle and work outwards.

Comments (0)

  • armagnac esq says:

    God I hope he doesn’t sell any records. I like my musos, especially if they’re pitching at JJJ, a little reconstructed.

    I understand the awkwardness- sometimes managing friendships means having people around whom you simply put all that stuff in a box. It’s a bit disappointing, but can also be a welcome break.

  • tigtog says:

    But there’s also a place for teaching people so they’re independent in future – like the men were taught, when young, by other men.

    Exactly. What a petty reaction, a classic backlash, as you called it.

    I’m almost hoping that the universal reaction of TripleJ listeners to their music is “She’s fantastic! I wish she had a better muso to work with!”.

  • kate says:

    Did you suggest youth radio was entirely appropriate considering how juvenile he was sounding?

    Sadly such comebacks never occur to me in the moment…

  • Helen says:

    sometimes managing friendships means having people around whom you simply put all that stuff in a box. It’s a bit disappointing, but can also be a welcome break.

    That sums it up very nicely – and I’m doing it all the time.

    My workmates don’t even know I blog, and I never have overtly feminist discussions with family and friends. I think that incident demonstrates there’s still very little tolerance in Oz society for it. There was also the element of feeling beholden (providing the transport). I wish, though, I was as good an explainer as some of the feminist bloggers I read.

    Kate – “Esprit d’escalier”!?

  • Bernice says:

    As per tigtog, the passing on of skills is still very gender specific. I watch male friends with my 10yo son patiently explaining the hows & whys with much appreciation but knowing full well if he was a she, it wouldn’t happen. Girlz asking technical questions does not go down well – at any age. Even little old ladies like me still inspire horrified silences in a workshop if I dare to mutter something audible about… anything technical. (Have long since given up pointing out that Machine A is about to blow up, seize up or fuck up – I just leave the building in safety)

  • murray says:

    All this makes me feel very virtuous indeed. I have 2 sons and a daughter and she spent similar time with me as the boys in the shed learning about using ring spanners pliars etc. and now my grand daughter is doing the same when at my house. On the other hand my mother had me sewing on a treadle machine saying just because you are a boy it doesn’t mean you can be useless in looking after yourself.

  • Helen says:

    Yay Murray! Yes we have many similar situations in our household. I used to be a whiz bike mechanic (these days, sadly, not so much.) I do basic (Ah said, basic) car maintenance. Boychild and his tough mate used to lerve the pink Barbie knitting machine at After School Care and would produce metres and metres of mad knitted stuff (I told them they were actually thneeds as in The Lorax.) And SO has his own T shirt business now and he has taken over my old sewing machine to do the labels… etcetera etcetera. We have a strange mixture of skillz.

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