Sunday, 21 January 2018

Canning St today

It had been almost a week since I was on my bike and I was missing it so out I went.  Canning St was silly. You can sort of see here there are four different little picnics going just in this one block. The nearest group had brought a coffee table out and they'd eaten dinner and now they were drinking rose out of cut-glass goblets. Then there was a group lolling on beanbags, the next pair were eating pizza from boxes, then a pack who were sitting on a row of those uncomfortable fold-down cinema seats.

This next lot, well, you've seen this type of thing too many times already, I know it, the novelty's worn right off, not even the portable barbecue and enormous dish of carrot sticks will do it for you anymore. They asked me, pressed me even, to join them but I said no thank you, I have somewhere I need to be. Which was kind of true because I had to go to the bookshop and look for some new feminist work, something energetic and robust and fearless and very, very smart, to remind myself that there is more going on in the world of public conversations about sex and gender than is evident in the dismal, undercooked circuses of the last few days. 

While I was away I read the unedifying article about the woman called "Grace" and her sexual encounter with a TV celebrity whose name is Aziz Ansari, neither of whom come out of it seeming like people I am interested in knowing anything more about. (This article was in a publication called "Babe.") I read it again today, along with a few semi-random selections from the flood of oars that have since been stuck in. I'm not about to stick in my own, you'll be pleased to hear. I do need to say a couple of things, not specifically about that particular shitshow of a cringefest which will be rightly consigned to the dustbin of history probably even before I finish writing this post (any minute now Grace will be revealed as a milkshake duck and everyone knows it) but about this weirdo moment generally. 

The first thing is just the crabby snarl I always want to do when I read (and it always is read) someone explaining that women are socialised in ways that make it impossible for us to break from oppressive forms (and men are socialised to be coercive and entitled about sex and to link eroticism with violence.) Women do participate in our own oppression and often we do this because of things about which we cannot do much, but the internalised misogyny described as "socialisation", in the current glib shorthand, is one thing that women can and must themselves dismantle and change. It will be painful and difficult and takes a lot of work and possibly can't be done in isolation, but, if you know that an idea you have is learned and a construct, and that it is a bad idea, then you can and should work towards unlearning and undoing it and not be tempted to disingenuously lump it in with factors that really are beyond the reach of the self to alter. That way lies the enshrining of an image of women as victims, which is not what we are.  

Second thing. I'm old, right, and mainly through virtue of having been around for a long time I've acquired something called perspective. The problem we have is that the project of achieving sexual liberation and equality isn't finished, and it won't be, unless and until all the ways that inequality and power relations structure how we live, are completely altered. Biiiiig task eh and one that will not be helped along one little bit by all of us wasting our time reading a blow-by-blow account of a drastically terrible encounter, even one where one the man is a public figure. It's almost useless to hypothesise and ask questions about how the individuals in the "Babe" story could or should have acted; in doing so there's no opportunity to ask about anything more systematic and communal than their individual personalities and biographies, and if we don't want this sort of dismal rubbish to keep on happening (hint: we don't) then those are the questions we need to be asking.   

I might be done with Canning St now, so to close the show here are two chicks who may well have been having the worst night of their lives, as they'd somehow got out of their nest and onto the bitumen. I am not a bad person all the way through so I got off my bike and put them onto the grass. Three adult birds swooped down and began prodding them in various ways so all's well that ends well I presume. I didn't find a book at Readings that suited my mood but at least I cracked a sweat and I did see some excellent bats on my way home.


Anonymous said...

Women and Power by Mary Beard. 2 essays based on public lectures. A lovely little read

lucy tartan said...