Tags: life balance issues

27 Feb 2006, Comments Off on When I am old I Shall Wear Purple Specifically to annoy Virginia Haussegger

When I am old I Shall Wear Purple Specifically to annoy Virginia Haussegger

Author: Helen

The Age (our beloved least worst local rag) always manages to find strange, ahem, right of centre writers to comment on “womens’ issues”.

Remember Virginia Haussegger? She wrote the sad article in 2002 accusing older, “purple-clad” feminists of overemphasising career to the detriment of her personal life, because none of them had remembered to tell her personally about fertility declining as you get older, the stupid old bags. (Did Virginia never go for a pap smear? Did it occur to her to ask a GP?)

Anyways, as I conducted my usual exhausting, no-expense-spared research for this post (Google, only fingers moving) I came across proof that at least one feminist did tell Virginia about the use-by date on her ovaries. Jane Caro, the convenor of Priority Public, spelled it out for her while on holiday in 1987. Did she listen? No.

Sprung, Virginia.

Now, in the interests of fairness, Hausegger does occasionally make some sense on the occasions she turns from feminist-bashing to actual work-life balance issues. But in this latest confused outpouring, Hausseger reckons Australian feminists “hate” Maureen Dowd because they can’t handle the uncomfortable truths in her pot-boiler “Are Men Necessary?” This is because they are horrible. They “sharpen” their “squints”, their “claws are out”. Meow!

If Virginia had just let her fingers do the walking, like me, she would find plenty of American feminists who don’t like “Are Men Necessary” either. One woman’s “sassy” is another woman’s “mind-blowing stupidity“.

Virginia’s Haus style seems to consist mainly of a series of bald assertions, none of them backed up by any empirical evidence, most pertaining to a small substratum of society to which she belongs (we used to call them “yuppies”)… and some of which are simply off the planet.


Dowd’s razor-sharp depiction of women who choose to parade their breasts instead of their brains (in order to enjoy the greater rewards), and who have ditched old-fashioned aspirations of gender equality for slut-culture supremacy, is just too much of an insult to delicate Australian feminist sensibilities.

Who-kicked-who-in-the-what-now?… Is she being wittily tongue in cheek but just getting the tone wrong? Is she drunk? Old-fashioned aspirations of gender equality? Maybe it’s because I haven’t read Dowd’s book that I don’t even get what she is trying to say here – but the idea of an opinion piece/book review is to present your ideas clearly enough that that shouldn’t be required in order to understand your point. And the idea that if you don’t embrace Slut Culture you’re a gimlet-eyed, punishing old Puritan feminist, well, how many times has that poor old worn-out thing been around the track?

I’d be here all day if I tried to analyse the whole mess, and other people have already called her on her cherrypicking other writers ‘ arguments, but one of the most annoying themes is the distaste she shows for “empirical evidence” and her attempt to have it both ways. In the same breath, Australian feminists are judging Maureen Dowd completely on her presentation and persona rather than “ruminat(ing) on the argument”. They “go for the girl”. (I must say, there’s nothing I find so empowering as having a 54 year old woman referred to as a “girl”.) Then she tries to say they’re ruminating too much on the argument. They’re actually asking for evidence… and layers of complexity! The bitchez.


Dowd… is about to experience first-hand our naive lack of humour and tortured desire for layers of complexity.

Well, damn those layers of complexity!


Winnie Salamon was at pains to point out that as Australian women “we need discussion that is meaningful”. Dowd’s playful suggestion that all men will be infertile in 125,000 years, and possibly extinct in 10 million years, was not complex enough for Salamon, whose hunger for serious empirical data found this undignified romp through the “Y chromosome” all a bit “kitschy and futuristic”.

Damn those empirical data! We should be able to have feminist books without all that hard, unfeminine thinking stuff, boop-boop-a-doop!

Enough of that. Now I’m off to sharpen my squint.