18 Jul 2008, Comments Off on Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a play…

Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a play…

Author: Helen

It would be about a playwright, so I could have one of those play-within-a-play things. It would be about a playwright who is a great big hypocrite.

My completely fictional Ms Playwright is a professional writer, but still finds it hard to balance the work with her domestic life while her children are young, as we all do. She finds that the realities of her adult life do not jive with her youthful ideals. She’s discovered that the post-70s life is no “dream”. (Gosh!) For this, she blames second wave feminism. She writes articles for broadsheet dailies which claim that combining a career and children are, for women, simply impossible, and feminism has all been a big con and we’re all miserable but don’t want to admit it because we’re just full of the feminist kool-aid. At the same time, in the great tradition of anti-feminist Special Snowflakes everywhere, she is herself building a career that most of us can only dream about.

Also in the great tradition of the anti-feminist pundit, she’s standing on the shoulders of giants in order to piss on them (while tossing off remarks about how much she really respects them, honest), because her success has in no small measure been made possible by the efforts of the women who came before her and fought for womens’ talents to be taken seriously.

Needing to bump up the income to put the sprogs through Grammar school, Ms P thinks up a sure-fire marketing ploy. She’ll write a play which is a thinly disguised account of a traumatic event that happened to a prominent second-wave feminist (SWF). SWF is often in the news and is commonly used by the press as a handy hate-magnet to get the more bigoted sections of the readership going. Therefore, she’ll be easily recognisable and the speculation will make the play an instant hit. Unfortunately for SWF, the public won’t have the information they need to separate fact from fiction, and will tend to take the whole thing as based on fact. Ms P will disingenuously refuse to admit that the play has anything to do with SWF (oh, please) and will primly assert that “there are many fallibilities (sic) among the women of SWF’s generation.” It wasn’t us who ruined the world, Miss! A bad woman did it and ran away.

Naturally, SWF is pretty pissed off by this. Annoyed? Anyone would be! So she makes a couple of acerbic comments, as the media so loves her to do, and is then portrayed as a rampant! Termagant! Madwoman! who “foams”, and has no sense of humour, as well as being a “shrew”,as they’ve done a thousand times before. This leads to another round of hateful putdowns for SWF from random self-anointed experts and huge free publicity for Ms P’s play. Result!

I reckon it should be interesting. And I’ve got this great marketing strategy I’d like to tell you about…

Comments (0)

  • Zoe says:

    Thank you so much. Without those links I might never have read of “The Cerebral Vagina”

  • Helen says:

    Subtle is not her middle name

    (nor mine, to be honest)

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    Just read the op ed link. What a truly stunning insight at the end. Good gravy, why didn’t somebody tell me that “choice” doesn’t mean you can have both things?

    That’s the second ex-student of mine who has come out fulminating in print against the evil feminist foremothers. Frankly I find this sinister.

  • Helen says:

    But Pav, it’s not the case that women must choose either motherhood or career and never the twain will meet. (Ms Playwright’s argument is that yes you can do both, but you’ll be mediocre if you do.) That’s my problem with it. Women can and do have both career and family, just like men who have always assumed that it is their right to be fathers and husbands as well as doers of whatever. It’s just that it was supposed to be a woman’s whole existence, ergo the impossibility of being a doer outside the home.

    It’s the sharing of the domestic load (still fraught with resistance and difficulty) which is the crucial missing link, as well as the institutionalised barriers such as workplaces that take pride in punishing hours, gender biased cultures and the like. But Ms Playwright ignores all that.

  • Helen says:

    Having reread Ms P’s final paragraph again, I agree that in life there is always some measure of opportunity cost. I am never going to be a university professor or an astronaut, for instance, because of the choices I have made. However, the fact that I have two children isn’t the reason. That doesn’t mean it is easy. But it is not because feminists lied to us about everything!1! It’s because governments, corporations and partners still have to be brought on board more with the entire system not being geared towards male workers with wives at home.

  • armagny says:

    …. effectively, but to put it another way, not being geared towards rewarding malfunctioning humans who spend 60 hours a week plus at work for years on end. Which implicitly sidelines people who take time out, whether for family or other things, or who insist on leaving the office by 5.30, or who won’t (can’t) drop everything on a saturday and work because someone somewhere is having a panic attack about file 763.

    I think aspiring to the psychopathic boardroom may be hard for women who want to be decent parents. It may also be hard for males in the same situation. Perhaps it’s the boardrooms that need the adjustment, as I believe you are saying!

  • kate says:

    Obviously Pav it’s all your fault. My own anti-feminist rant will come out later… Not right now though, the Bloke is caring for the kid while I write job applications.

    armagny, I agree the problem isn’t just about women and work, but couples and singles, and grandparents and friends. If we have a work culture of 60 hour weeks who is going to volunteer for Rotary, or the school tuckshop, or the kinder committee? Who will run cake stalls, or be a Big Brother, or lead camps for underprivilidged youth? At the moment the routine for professional types is work your guts out until 35, have babies, then drop back or out. Which means you still lose at least ten years of your life pre-baby not being a fully functioning member of society. We need better policies. I think we also need better unionism so we’re all feeling brave enough to leave at the end of the day.

  • Helen says:

    Yes, Pav and I both belong to the Guilty Generation… hey that’s quite catchy, I’m sure Fairfax op-ed writers will want to use it but they’ll have to pay me.

    Perhaps it’s the boardrooms that need the adjustment, as I believe you are saying!

    Yes, that’s it.

    We will be told again and again that it’s impossible.

    They said that about child labour, slavery, the 8 hour movement…

  • nasking says:

    Helen, my comment is at Lav Prod cause the connection stuffed up.

    Under Saturday Salon.

    [Edit 20/7: Hi Nask, I’ve cut and pasted the text below from LP. Thanks for providing a lovely counterpoint to the “Joe Public” commentary on Greer – e.g. the comments on that Times On Line article. H]

    Helen said: “So she makes a couple of acerbic comments, as the media so loves her to do, and is then portrayed as a rampant! Termagant! Madwoman! who “foams”, and has no sense of humour”

    I expect no less from a Murdoch paper…they love creating conflict. Stirring sh*t. Bashing anyone from the Left or Progressive camp who was influential in the 60s & 70s that helped bring about CHANGE & moves towards egalitarianism.

    Rupert & his lot must’ve steamed at having to pay those extra tax dollars for affordable health & education, for mature age women to enter University…& raged at the idea that some women, like Germaine Greer, had the guts to speak louder than them…get the attention they craved…and articulated arguments that helped their wives and daughters realise they didn’t have to stay in the CAGE & be bullied by these somewhat ocker elites, putting on airs, sleeping around…and taking their partners for granted. They’re now trying to get their revenge.

    But Germaine will always remain unique & a courageous bridge crosser in my books…& no amount of SPIN & BS from the corporate media & its sycophantic enablers will change my view. I imagine the same goes for many others. She’s a GIANT.

    Time will show this. She speaks to truth. She’s a FIGHTER.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    “But Pav, it’s not the case that women must choose either motherhood or career and never the twain will meet. ”

    No, sorry, I was being ironic about the article.

    That said, some careers really will not allow for it. I chose to try for a career as an academic (a career path with an astronomical failure rate even well before children start being factored into the equation, especially for women, at least in my young days) and that precluded (at least for me) the possibility of establishing and maintaining the sort of relationship I would have wanted to be in to have kids, much less actually having them. Because to succeed in academe as a woman of my generation you had to work 70-90 hours a week, every week. This may still be true.

    None of this will be fixed properly until they stop calling it ‘maternity leave’ and start calling it ‘parental leave’, and a vanguard of courageous male souls brave the mockery from their male workmates and take it.

  • kris says:

    I had much the same reaction to Anne Manne’s Quarterly Essay piece, where feminists were blamed for the capitalist and neo-liberal claims that paid work is a moral good and mothering is a waste of time, what with their thoughtless demands that paid employment was something women should have access too – such a dangerous sentiment (I think, that was the argument; I threw the book against the wall a number of times and did tend to lose the thread of the argument). Why not blame capitalism? Or neo-liberalism? Or The Man? I’m an academic with two daughters, fast falling behind my peers as I try to manage kids and work and I’ve gotta say, I don’t think feminism is the problem in this scenario.

    Indeed, our feminist foremothers were falliable but why is feminist falliability a much greater sin than any other?

  • Helen says:

    Anne Manne takes a good observation but kinda skews it, in a way that to me is totally predictable based on reading her earlier op-eds. Yes, I think it’s a capitalist and neoliberal thing too. I’m trying to work up a post on this very phenomenon but it’s not there yet.

    None of this will be fixed properly until they stop calling it ‘maternity leave’ and start calling it ‘parental leave’, and a vanguard of courageous male souls brave the mockery from their male workmates and take it.

    That’s the key. And I am starting to see it in my workplace, I think. But that’s just one workplace. And it’s pretty much baby steps.

  • nasking says:

    Glad you were able to post the comment up Helen. Thnx.

    I believe that corporate-based greed, religion and their influence on politicians has a great deal more to do with stresses on Mothers & family breakups than Feminism. Certainly some women have taken a rather hyperbolic, aggressive approach towards men of any kind after being submerged in Feminist-based courses, texts (Women’s Studies & such),…which is not unexpected considering the world wobbling information they have to deal with…but fortunately most start being more selective in their ear bashing once they hit the workplace. The ones who don’t, in all probability women who have been abused in some fashion, tend to feed the corporate media’s nasty use of terms such as “Political Correctness”.

    However, aggressiveness driven by fear, bitterness, envy & a certain amount of conditioning shouldn’t be confused with the RIGHT to speak out. Debate. Resist. Change inappropriate laws…& bring about justice in a world that was, still is in some ways, patriarchal. Sometimes speakers need to break taboos, gain attention by way of imaginative and awakening comments in order to break thru the din of complacency, heirarchy & conformity.

    Germaine Greer knows exactly how to be heard…& seen. And get her points across. She makes mistakes, like all of us, but her contribution to the cause of ‘egalitarianism’ & Women’s Rights cannot be undermined by the howlings of those she annoys, rubs the wrong way. Those who can only earn a penny from her existence by constructing faux debates & conflict. Outrage.

    I still believe that oneday the gestation period should be designed to occur outside of a woman’s body. Imagine each individual as being engineered to be temporarily sterile, unless they choose to be otherwise, and the reversal back to fertility can be achieved basically at anytime. Then you/they can feel truly emancipated…& be provided w/ the choice as to whether or not you/they will give birth to a child. And when. And with which sperm. Having a baby on your terms…

    but then, that brings up a whole new argument/discussion about “parental rights”.

  • tigtog says:

    I still believe that oneday the gestation period should be designed to occur outside of a woman’s body. Imagine each individual as being engineered to be temporarily sterile, unless they choose to be otherwise, and the reversal back to fertility can be achieved basically at anytime.

    Nice idea in many ways, nasking. I worry though about the inevitable lunatic fringe who will decide that such exowombs mean that women are entirely unnecessary once their eggs have been harvested (while still in the exowomb).

  • armagny says:

    You don’t think men might be at risk of similar… sooner…? Just a thought i sometimes have…

  • Helen says:

    Jeez you guys are getting onto the big topics aren’t you? I’m just posting about an itty bitty spat between theatre mavens in Australia and there you go arguing whether it’s men or women who will be dying out! 😉

    No, Nasking, I don’t think we are agressive at all. I think our default position is to be too nice, and “once we hit the workforce” we’re often in a subordinate role and if not, criticised for our unfeminine qualities. I’m not going any further than that because again, off topic. But far from enforcing some kind of feminist political correctness (a putdown term I greatly dislike because of its use to shut us up while pretending to be about the opposite), women who identify as feminist often find that mentioning the F-word is about equivalent to farting in public in most real-life spaces. OK, I’m off-topic again, and in the middle of getting the dinner on a night when it should be SO’s turn to cook [/irony]

  • nasking says:

    Good point tigtog…my wife & I were discussing the Gardasil injections, a positive measure…but I, being the conspiracy thinking/reading partner, brought up the topic of a “lunatic fringe”, as you aptly call them, who use injections to spread cancer thru young women or alter their DNA to ensure they expire en-masse at a later date…& wondered what would happen if only a small percentage of women left on the Earth were able to give birth? Creepy stuff. I looked at S’ & felt horrid fear for her.

    I musta read some Margaret Atwood novels when i lived in Canada. Great writer.

    It’s quite possible that the gender difference will be superflous in the future, what w/ cloning, vat grown babies, organs being grown from cells, being plugged into computers, creation of part human cyborgs etc. Particularly when we have to adapt to outer space. Or extreme conditions if global warming increases at a rapid rate. Survival gene dominates & such.

    “No, Nasking, I don’t think we are agressive at all. I think our default position is to be too nice, and “once we hit the workforce” we’re often in a subordinate role and if not, criticised for our unfeminine qualities.”

    Too true. But I’m not referring to you or your friends persay Helen, I’m talking about a small group of more antagonistic feminists/women who do not promote women’s rights or their individual rights in a civil, diplomatic way to those who are willing to listen.

    It’s understandable that they are more assertive w/ patriarchs, those who go out of their way to antagonise them…but to act like they have a permanent, all-consuming chip on the shoulder…and play the role of bully…and push even the most ardent male supporter of feminists to the wall because they seem to take on the most antagonistic characteristics of the human species, well it’s damaging to the cause I reckon.

    The papers & other media then latch onto the conflict that is created…the complaints…the hypocrisy (such as women who argue against representations of the female form by way of ‘pornography’ but seem to get a kick out of oggling male nudes in front of men, seemingly to taunt them & give them the middle finger, rather revengeful stuff)…and if you read my comment closely, you’ll see I’m not asking women to resort to the ‘default’ setting…but rather think thru the consequences of contradictory approaches & acting carelessly around those they could be allied with.

    I speak from personal experience. It is easier when resisting & enraged to bully, pick on, upset those who are more passive & desire to listen, be family…than to act against those OCKER, MACHO HUNKS etc. who might actually fight back forcefully. That’s why i applaud you for taking on some of the CONDITIONED blockheads & their enablers, rather than going for easy targets.

    Like I said…”Sometimes speakers need to break taboos, gain attention by way of imaginative and awakening comments in order to break thru the din of complacency, heirarchy & conformity.”

    Like Greer…& yerselves. But always be aware of whose toes you are stepping on, so to speak. I’m a bloody hopeless dancing protestor, equal rights pursuer myself…:) As you well know. But I’m learning. Slowly…:)

    I just think it would help the CAUSE if feminists, who speak out, make it clear that MAN HATE for the sake of having a cathartic act & spreading the message regardless of effect, is not conducive to converting the masses effectively…& is used by the HYPE merchants time & time again to undermine your cause(s).

    Humour does help. Your good at that Helen…& tigtog. Others. And lateral thinking, as you do.

    And speaking of stereotypical views & accusations that confine & cage…some men can be vego & strong/tough too…& speak & write at length…;)

    Some of us WHITE MEN feel just as caged & discriminated against, believe it or not. And feel the need to rattle the bars. And consequently can empathise w/ your need to SPEAK OUT. CHANGE things. But have also felt the hot needle of reverse discrimination…or whatever they call it.

    I hope that came across appropriately. Calm & pleasant & supportive…but trying to open the debate/discussion from a “classified as MALE” perspective.

    I like Germaine Greer. She never offends me. I’d luv to have a drink & chat w/ her.

    It’s late & I’m stuffed. Enlightening post & comments. As usual.

  • Mark says:

    What Armagny said (the first time). Though I find it is far less about boardrooms and more about grunt work and deadlines in my line.

    So, I didn’t do the proofreading I took home over the weekend to catch up on a crashing deadline – so there!

    There was the shopping to do, the dishes to wash, the meals to cook, and the kids wanted to play. But then, you know all this already, yeah?

    BTW, wasn’t there some threat of legal action?

  • Mark says:

    Oh, and Alison Croggon’s review is absolutely a hoot. To wit:

    “In the mutual loathing stakes, Joanna Murray-Smith and I, who are exact contemporaries, go back a long way. For around 15 years, she has considered me a bitch and I have thought her a dill. I hated her plays, she hated my criticism. She called herself post-feminist and berated feminism for her problems: I called myself a feminist and thought her a privileged whinger.”

    And quite insightful. Of course, Alison takes on the play and the production as well. It helps that she’s traveling (and reviewing) in England now. Not quite embedded though, as her review attests.

  • Guido says:

    The argument by Joanna Murray-Smith echoes in another form the criticism of feminism by Virginia Haussegger only that her criticism wasn’t that she felt conned that ‘combining a career and children is impossible’ but that feminism conned her because she thought she could have it all (career and a child) but that was also impossible and she was childless and angry.

    However can I say here as a father. (that somewhat resents his loss of freedom that he had before children) that Joanna Murray-Smith touches on an issue which I think is a very important gender issue. If fathers were more involved in the day to day caring of their children would mothers be less resentful about being unable to combine careers with motherhood? Are fathers still getting the better end of the deal?

  • Helen says:

    Yes, I’ve referred to that elsewhere as Hausseggerism. 😉

  • nasking says:

    More House Dads the better I reckon. It’s important women get a taste of career/work, education & HOME worlds if they choose to have children. A well-rounded Mum can be valuable. And Mum is also an INDIVIDUAL who deserves some time to pursue her own thing. As does Dad. They usually pay enuff tax. No reason why governments can’t spend money wiser by providing assistance to both during key periods of the child’s upbringing…rather than adding to the bonuses of wealthy CEOs & funding BOGUS wars.

    Howard was indeed a sneaky sh*t. I agree Helen. If he’d been given the chance he’d have you chained to the fridge or oven & giving birth to wee ones at a hot pace. Thank gawdness the nation woke up & kicked his old-fashioned arse back to civilian life, where he can read about his 1920s -1950s heroes all he likes w/out imprinting it on the Australian society.

    I’m just a House Pet Friend. Retired teacher. I made my partner S’ lunch yesterday & today, must keep it up…get so tired sometimes. Distracted.

    I packed her homemade bread sandwiches filled w/ hummous & tomatoes (today)…& yesterday, swiss cheese, tomatoes & french mustard (her fave) and added sliced Kiwi fruit, washed & polished apple & strawberries, banana, and a handful of cashews & almonds.

    After fresh mandarin slices & a cup of Irish tea S’ went on her merry way to work whilst I got down to cleaning, paying bills, gardening, commenting on blogs, adding to personal projects, replying to family emails & other calls…& feeding our demanding cats.

    When S’ gets HOME I give her a herbal tea & she then has a shower & settles in to talk about her day…& mine… & smiles when chatting about her nutritious lunch. I try to give her a HUG a day. She deserves it.

    It’s not always so SWEET…& harmonious. But its worth trying. If only governments would plan & impliment policies based on the recognition that partners, families, extended families, gay families, individuals, could live far more harmonious lives & be more productive if they felt RECOGNISED, and were given more OPPORTUNITIES.

    Most people are Workhorses who need to be less burdened.

  • nasking says:

    implement not “impliment”…doh!

  • dysthymiac says:

    Professor Dr.Greer, St.Germaine Of The Viragos and Hoydens
    will prevail,
    is unassailable,
    has more, in her little finger, of everything Murray Joanna-Smith dreams of having.
    The Female Eunuch was, I believe, Dr.Greer’s PhD thesis.
    Top that, Jo-Jo you twit.

  • dysthymiac says:

    “She finds that the realities of her adult life do not
    jive with her youthful ideals”

    no shit sherlock.

    and if our adult lives comprised the dreams of our 17-year-old brains
    what a mess the place would be.

  • Ariel says:

    Thanks Helen – What an entertaining and infuriating post and debate. As a thirtysomething (just) myself, I can say that any woman who blames her feminist generational forebears for her life is looking for a scapegoat and not using their brains. Of course women can’t have it all. No one can have it all!

    As I interpret it, feminism is about women having choices about what paths they choose to pursue and how they combine those options, not ‘having it all’. Men who work 70 hour weeks while their wives look after the house and family don’t have it all either – they don’t have the kind of close relationships that need time and hands-on engagment to nurture.

    Hausegger et. al have the brains to have a basic knowledge of biology and the human body (as I remember it, part of the argument is that no one ever told them that you can’t have babies much after 40, and that it’s harder and riskier post-35). If they chose to ignore those things or changed their minds later, that’s not the fault of feminism. That’s life. It may be sad, but it’s not Germaine Greer’s fault.

  • Helen says:

    Great comments all – sorry I’m not doing very well with keeping up the conversation myself mainly because of work and family balance issues -heh.

  • lauredhel says:

    “I still believe that oneday the gestation period should be designed to occur outside of a woman’s body. Imagine each individual as being engineered to be temporarily sterile, unless they choose to be otherwise, and the reversal back to fertility can be achieved basically at anytime.”

    Nice idea in many ways, nasking. I worry though about the inevitable lunatic fringe who will decide that such exowombs mean that women are entirely unnecessary once their eggs have been harvested (while still in the exowomb).

    And those who would deny access to artificial wombs for “unworthy” people (people with disabilities? Poor people? People with “not good enough” genes?). Also: how is this reverse engineering to be performed? If it requires access to a healthcare practitioner who is willing to perform the procedure, how does that HCP decide who gets access, and when, and what it costs? Reproductive choice and the assaults in it can swing in all directions.

    I can’t help thinking Bujold linked the notions of artificial wombs and restrictive parenting examinations and licences for a reason; Beta Colony wasn’t exactly a utopia.

    Then there are the technical barriers. Anyone who thinks we could soon come anywhere near close to developing anything resembling uterine replicators needs to spend some time in a NICU (or any ICU, come to that) – and anyone who thinks they’ll be resource-viable soon after the tech being developed needs to see some ICU bills.

  • Mindy says:

    Hubby was home with sick child (read feeling fine but excluded from daycare on Drs orders) and did the washing, tidied up etc. For the first time I understood what it must be like to have a wife. I had so much time to myself! It was wonderful, but unfortunately short lived.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.