Archives: September 2011

14 Sep 2011, Comments (0)

Down Under Feminist Carnival #40

Author: Helen

Downunder Feminist Carnival

*Emerges from mountain of work, housework, family stuff*
*Looks around*
*Notices that QoT at Ideologically Impure has put up the 40th DUFC: Bigger, better and with more punnage!*

*Is buried for an unspecified time under more stuff as Work Mountain collapses*

The AGE must have thought At Home With Julia was a doco, because they had an item about it in the News section today. “Slight it certainly was, but not fundamentally unkind – to the Prime Minister at least.” Er, no. Mocking Gillard’s partner doesn’t leave her untouched. Not the way they did it. I switched it on in trepidation, wondering what antidiluvian gender-policing tropes they would serve up. I wasn’t undisappointed. Besides Amanda Bishop’s HILARIOUS take on Gillards voice (She’s got such a FUNNY VOICE HURH HURH HURH – That stuff never palls!), the focus is all on her partner, Tim Mathieson (Phil Lloyd). And it’s all hanging on the side-splitting scenario of Man Living with a woman who’s More Successful than Him ZOMG!! WEARZ TEH PANTZORZ!!111!!

It’s relentless, from the first bar of the cliched piano intro. As the first episode opens, Tim is followed by a bunch of subteen boys who taunt him about his lack of manliness as he puts the bins out. That sets the monotonous pattern from then on as Tim fails again and again to live up to masculine standards. He even visits JG’s workplace with a sandwich. Emasculating! His day continues as a mounting litany of humiliations. Gillard calls him “my little T-pot”. And while the Tim Mathieson character bears most of the weight of the superannuated tropes, as he becomes ever more irritated and frustrated (and as oblique jokes about his manhood are made by the minute) we’re given to understand that JG’s relationship is doomed to failure. A woman simply shouldn’t be under work pressure. Everyone knows it’s the woman who makes the damned sandwich, amirite? Even in the first episode we feel the relationship is so strained it must eventually crack, and then she’ll be all alone with only Bill Shorten the terrier and Bob Katter for company, won’t she? And serve her right for being an emasculating prime minister and destroying her man.

Clearly – still – the idea that men taking the role of partner to a successful woman are pathetic, and they’re pathetic because they are then comparable to a woman, which is terrible, still has great traction. I’m just about to watch Rush: a woman running about in a flak suit with a gun might be frowned on by some conservatives, but no-one sees her as pathetic and laughable. Women taking on mens’ roles might meet with resistance, but it’s because they’re a subordinate moving up. A man taking on (what’s still defined as) a woman’s role is looked on as moving down.

I can’t help but wonder what this meanspirited and patriarchy-fellating little show will do to the real-life relationship. No matter how Mathieson presents himself in his everyday life, he now has the “man emasculated by successful woman” lesson rammed down his throat weekly, and it can’t help but affect how he’s treated by the public when he goes out. I imagine it can’t help but affect the dynamic between the two of them. And if anything happens to their relationship, then the world will be all, “See, there you go, ball buster.”

And I can’t help but wonder how many teenage girls are abandoning plans for a bigger role in the wide world, because you know, it just makes you unloveable and makes your partner miserable.

Thanks, ABC.
Crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo

3 Sep 2011, Comments (5)

…Now I’m on a horse

Author: Helen

I apologise in advance for adding to the pixels devoted to Tony Abbott. Sometimes the urge to vent overcomes the need not to add to the noise machine. I was complaining in various places, before the election of Kevin in 07, about having to listen to the excruciating, grating sound of JHo’s voice droning out of the radio at every news bulletin and often in between. It reduced my quality of life measurably. I rejoiced at the thought of those times being over. Little did I know we were entering into a new paradigm where the bloody Leader of the Opposition got his voice – “nasal, high-pitched, hectoring, aggressive, negative, bludgeoning” – on the radio 24/7. Death or New Zealand are equally beginning to beckon.

For those who do not reside in Australia and therefore aren’t exposed to this excrescence day in and day out, Tony Abbott is a man who (1) can’t resist a photo opportunity and (2) has a pretty florid Action Man complex. Every day he’s in a hard hat, fluoro vest, or some other macho uniform pretending to take part in some salt-of-the-earth toil – I haven’t seen him in a flight suit yet, but give him time. So it was that when he was out on the range in Rockhampton with some horsey dudes, of course nothing would do but he must get on a horse too and have a Bonanza photo opportunity. Tones’ Action Man shots are always embarrassing, but this plumbed new depths of toe-curling awfulness. I’m not sure if this low-res Youtube vid does justice to just how bad it was.

You can get on a bike and kind of pootle off and give the impression you know what you’re doing. Sitting on a fast trotting horse – I’ll say it again (yes, I’m repeating myself, I said this about Ian Campbell’s equestrian heroics) is an action which thousands of ten year old girls perform faultlessly every Saturday at pony club, but you need to have put in the requisite hours to learn how to do it without looking like a panicking rag doll. Action Man, having failed to do this, looks a right doofus. You’ll know next time, Tones: horse: bicycle: Not the same thing!

A day or two later, you could hear exasperated noises coming from our kitchen as I was doing pre-work sandwich making and listening to Abbott deploy his unique, circular logic on AM. “Well, it’s very important that this matter be resolved and that this boil for the Government be lanced, [Erk! Do you mind? I’m buttering bread here!] because while the Government is completely distracted by the Craig Thomson matter it’s not able to properly attend to the pressing problems that our country faces…[False – The minority Gillard government is actually getting on with the job of passing legislation and, well, governing, despite the constant Dog and Pony show distractions thrown up by the Coalition.] …Now the reason why the Prime Minister has to deal with this matter and resolve it is because that there are more important things that the Government should be focused on. [Absolutely! So why aren’t you talking about these very important things? …Oh.] But the Prime Minister’s incapacity to deal with the matter of the Member for Dobell means that these other problems just get worse…Blah blah Integrity… Let the sun shine in blah.” He thinks we’re so stupid we won’t even notice that if people are distracted – not completely distracted as he puts it – he’s the one doing his best to do the distracting with his energiser-bunny childish ping-ponging all over the place, both physically and verbally. So disingenuous, and so lacking in the dignity and intelligence we’d want in a leading politician, but of course it’s Gillard who’s always copping the scrutiny and being found wanting.

It was nice to see, the next day, that someone else noticed. “Yesterday, opposition leader Tony Abbott veered close to over-reach…He told the ABC in the morning that ”while the government is completely distracted by the Craig Thomson matter it’s not properly able to attend to the pressing problems the country faces”. He made the same claim later in the day while arguing that normal parliamentary business cease in order for Gillard to make a statement about the matter. The ”distraction” has been generated all along by Abbott.”