Monthly Archives: April 2009

Taxidriver

Yesterday evening, decorated like a cupcake and teetering on offensively high heels, I was forced to choose between a half hour wait for the tram or a cab ride towards the city. Sharing this fascinating choice with me was  a friend who, while not attending the same fancy party as me, lived on the way into town.

Having spotted and hailed down the distant glow of an available cab, we slid in and were greeted by an oil-slicked Indian yoof clutching a really fucking big computer-and-mobile-in-one thingo and a phone card. No news there. Having let friend out after five minutes, this person proceeded to make an overseas call in Urdu, realise he’d been hung up on, swear really loudly in English, make another call to complaing about the first call and all the while, drive really slowly.

Meanwhile, the passenger seat covering was shifting uncomfortably as I tugged down at my hem and tried to make my thoughts of “talking on the phone is illegal” and “drive faster please!” well-heard, but also remain silent, because I’ve been raised not to interrupt phone conversations. Foremost in my mind was trying to repair the perception held by this tired-faced worker that I was not a stupid westernised slut; that I was worth listening to and indeed was paying not to be ignored.

Anyway, we came to the part of Bourke St that’s closed off the traffic and yet another fascinating desicion had to be made: get out now, or get Mr. Fucking Large Phone to drive back around so that I could get to my destination on the other side of the road blockage. A particularly judicious fiscal desicion saw me ask this person to please stop the meter then. After some to-ing and fro-ing, he turned off the meter but proceeded to drive in the direction of said fancy party.  Waving down my protests, he justified this act of kindess with those wonderful words: “I was going in that direction anyway”.

Now I’ve seen kindness from taxidrivers before, especially from older subcontinental ones who can only see their daughter in my face. This one was different. Having made it about halfway around the blockage, he was hailed down by another woman, whom he obliged, but asked me if it was OK first. On the last leg of this very brief journey, Mr. Fucking Large Phone rapidly but emphatically explained to this other woman, whose meter had already hit three dollars, that he wanted to drop off this “beautiful lady here”, but she’s “on the way, so that’s OK yes?”. It’s hard to overstate how quickly all this happened. Here was a man who I had assumed thought nothing of me, but turned out to find my beauty worth compromising his vocational integrity for (though these may be the same thing). The whole thing was bewildering, but also raised some pretty interesting questions. What did this guy want? What had I given up? Would he have done the same for that other woman, who wasn’t brown like me?

The key question, though, is this:  do I give up my rights to be valued for more than appearance, if I use my appearance for personal gain?

PS. Speaking of Indian student/taxi drivers, here’s a pretty golden video that some guys I know made.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Tight Tights

OK, so despite what I had promised to a certain somebody, this post won’t be about the patriarchal architecture that surrounds us in Western society. That one is in the works. This post, rather, is going to be about hosiery. True. Hear me out here people.

The post was born of a facebook wall-to-wall war I had with an old friend of mine regarding a facebook group he’d just set up, declaring “tights are not pants”.

Having been invited to the group, I declined and posted this on his wall:

“Dear Sir,

The image of your group depicts not tights, but stockings [the original picture was of a fat woman wearing stockings and a singlet top] — an entirely different piece of hosiery. Further, I take issue with the SUBSTANCE of your group. Of course tights are not pants. Neither are skirts, or shorts. Only pants are pants.

Also, I might point out that sentiments like yours are essentially anti-woman. Let people be! Sheesh.

Sincerely, Bhak”

I later went to to elaborate on the way groups like this, and indeed sentiments like these affect women.

Don’t you think there is enough pressure on women’s images already? Be skinny, but not too skinny, eat well, go to the gym, have tanned skin, don’t go to the solarium though, that’s for idiots who want to die, wear skirts, act like a lady, but not too short, you’ll look like a skank.

Founder of the group and said friend, Crook, hit back arguing roughly two things:

1) Calling it ‘anti-woman’ was an exxageration as the group was merely concerned with the classification of tights in a “functional sense”, and was also willing to look at inappropriate tights on men.

2) Placing this conversation in a gendered context was an abstraction as the group existed as part of an in-joke to try and establish support for different sides of this debate.

Here again (like Jermaine and Germaine), comedy can give us some clues into our own prejudices and assumptions. To me these strongly held stances against tights (and boy are they strongly held, even in blogs which I read daily), are essentially about economies of taste, about superiority, about retaining control over acceptability and ultimately about telling women what they can and can’t wear. Not cool.

23 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

These Boyz Kill It

SPOILER WARNING

God I love Flight of the Conchords. Not to the extent the rest of New Zealand’s entertainment industry probably hates them, but I digress. If you’re yet to discover this delightful duo of dunces, let me recommend this clip.

I’ll mention at this stage that Season 2 of this series hasn’t been released in Australia yet, so the episode I’ve seen was essentially stolen. Though I didn’t download it myself, does that make it any better? Anyway, the rest of the episode goes to find Jemaine fall in love with the forbidden (and hilariously ocker) Australian girl he goes home with that night, Keitha. Keitha feigns reciprocity, tricks Jemaine into thinking they are eloping and then uses Jemaine’s absence as an opportunity to ransack the apartment he shares with Brett.

For as long as I can remember, being incompetent has been funny. Noone sympathises wih a winner, and that’s what this show brilliantly capitalises on; the whole first season has viewers edge of seats, phlanges crossed, hoping and praying the band will get a gig. Leaving aside the fact that a deal with HBO is a pretty sweet gig, Brett and Jemaine are giant losers and we love them for it. They’re also very straight, which in itself is of course unproblematic. My issue with this “dopey useless boy” caricature is not that it’s not an astute satire of masculinity, because it is. Rather, the issue is that it robs women in this program of the room for that kind of likability — they’re all relegated to either pathetic (sycophantic super-groupie Meg) or conniving (sex hungry, hostage-taking Keitha).

Where are the strong female characters in this show?

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

This blog is a safe space for women and puns.

It seems everyday I am noticing things that, while seemingly innocuous, upon closer inspecting are distressingly woman-hatey (misogynist). Later that day, I will realise I am wrong, or perhaps overstating the case. In any case, these discoveries and the debates surrounding them tend to be inflicted on co-workers, so much so that one in particular has suggested these thoughts be bloggified. It is yet unclear whether this will make the issue better or worse.

More pertinently, I’ve recently had the realisation that I probably fall in the militant variety of feminists (I reckon if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem). It was a somewhat concerning realisation, as for a long time, I’ve taken pride in evenhanded, non-preachy and well-humoured opinions about most things. This is where the puns come in. I think it’s really easy when debating feminism (religion, poetry, science or the local elections) to lose perspective and distance. In the interests of this, I’ll be doing my best to look out for seemingly anti-feminist fings (books, video clips, news presenters, lamps) that might be read differently.

The final reason I’ve finally gotten a blog is, perhaps pathetically, school. Taking a Net Communications subject at UniMelb requires regular blogging within a closed network of subject-based blogs, so now I’ve got all these super-fast skillz ready to roll. It’s also forced me to look at blog theory (as well as other wanky intertubes theories), and got me real fascinated with a life 2.0 outside Facebook and YouTube.

Here goes!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized