- Women objectify themselves. No, really! It is no good pretending that women want men to notice them for their inherent qualities if all they ever ask is how fat an arse they have or what’s different about their hair.
- Men objectify everyone. It makes it so much easier for them to carry out those other tricky roles they’ve been assigned such as killing people to protect fat arses and ripping off workers in poor nations to put designer labels on perfect female backs.
- It’s a mark of respect. Instead of being offended, women might consider thinking of themselves as objects d’art. They may be seen as mere things but at least they are things of beauty.
- It’s nature. Men treat women as objects; women treat men as means to the accumulation of objects. Nature in perfect balance!
- Laziness. After all, it is so much easier to think, “Nice legs.” than “I wonder if, like Schopenhauer, she believes that human will has ontological primacy over the intellect; in other words, if she believes desire is understood to be prior to thought and that will is prior to being.”
Monthly Archives: March 2007
Do you see that boy sitting, smiling between the legs of his Dad? That’s my Uncle Bill, the only brother of my father. The photograph was taken in about 1925. Bill grew up in a poor street in a poor part of a large city. In his bedroom he had a home-made crystal set; he collected cigarette cards of cricketers and a model of a biplane hung from his ceiling. He was a boy was my Uncle – one day he fell off the roof of the house; another day, running from the rain, he careered neck first into the single strand washing line. But he survived into an unremarkable young adult life, working in a tile factory only ten minutes walk from his home.
Bill became a toolmaker and somehow he became serious. He joined the Communist Party and read books from The Thinker’s Library. On Sundays he attended church. Then he became engaged to a pretty young redhead called Therese who played violin in the city’s symphony orchestra. Bill liked dancing and playing tennis.
When war broke out and his factory was converted to produce armaments, he was “man-powered” into the essential services. Unable to enlist, Bill rebelled by taking a pile of books to work. Then he sat alongside his lathe reading and refusing to operate his machine. They finally let him go and he joined the 24th Australian Infantry Battalion. In 1945 the dark haired, hazel-eyed machinist was 24 years old and headed for the island of Bougainville in the Pacific.
516 Australian lives were lost at Bougainville. Another 1 572 were wounded. For their part, the Japanese lost an estimated 8 500 young men. The war was over before the battle for Bougainville was brought to a military conclusion.
One day my Grandfather and Grandmother got this handwritten letter:
Dear Mr Andre,
I am writing to offer you my deepest regrets and sympathy on the loss of your son Bill. I was his company commander when he was killed and I feel you would like to know how he met his end. Bill was commanding his section on a patrol to locate enemy positions preparatory to an attack by the company. When only a short distance from the position the enemy opened fire on the patrol and Bill was killed by machine gun fire. Due the great superiority of the enemy and others of our own casualties, it was impossible to recover the body which was found untouched when the position was taken the next day. The information gained by the patrol no doubt saved many lives the next day. I would like you to know, Mr Andre, how greatly I admired your son for his coolness, disregard of danger, and general manliness. I had recommended him for his second stripe just before he was killed. He was always quiet, never complained and his men would follow him into any scrap; in all respects he was a son you could be proud of, as I was proud to serve with him. I can only hope that the people of Australia realise just how much they owe to Bill and his kind, and as fully as we that are left realise it.
Yours most sincerely
Stuart C. Graham
This month my country signed a military treaty with Japan. I know that’s the way of the world and I suppose it’s for the best. But I wish I could have seen my Dad and Uncle Bill discussing it over a beer.
I’d just poured a red wine last night when I heard the sound of loud and animated voices. Leaning on my front fence I found three teenage boys aged about 16. They were all obviously drunk but too young to know that it was obvious. One of them was also clearly ill and rested his head on the railing, occasionally spitting.
“What’s going on, boys?” I ask. A boy with long hair and natural good looks replies, “He’s sprained his ankle and we’re trying to get him to the bus stop.”
“Do you need some help?”
“Nah, we’re alright,” says the longhaired boy. Then he throws out his hand and introduces himself, “I’m Aidan.” I shake his hand. He’s drunk and confident, feeling like a man. “Can I tell you the truth?” he offers confidentially. “Alec has drunk a bottle of vodka and we got kicked off the bus before we could get to the party.”
I feel suddenly conscious of myself; I feel old; I see myself through their eyes. But somehow I’m also kind of flattered. I give good advice like you do. “You need to get him home, Aidan. Do you live around here?”
Aidan says, “Yeah, we’ll get him home. Next bus.” But he is keen to avoid any talk of where he lives. “We gotta go. It was nice to meet you, Oscarandre.” Still the big man, still cock a hoop with beer and life and youth.
Suddenly he reminds me of Nick and being 18 and drunk in this same street so many years ago. Running through people’s gardens, pissing on trees, fighting, swearing laughing our way through college. The old house is demolished now but it was just 50 metres from here. We’re sitting there drunk in the late afternoon and Nick says, “Give me a phone number, Oscarandre.” I give him the number of a college friend, Ben, who lives in the rich part of town. Nick rings and Ben’s mum answers. He says in an official voice, “M’am, I am from Telecom and we are currently fixing telephone lines in your area. If the phone rings in the next half hour, please don’t answer it or you could give one of our technicians a fatal shock.” Within 5 minutes he rings again and Ben’s Dad answers. Nick lets out a loud and agonising scream then hangs up. We laugh until we are helpless and the tears are running down our face. I haven’t seen Nick for fifteen years and yet I loved him once.
Aidan and his friends are moving unsteadily back towards the highway.
I keep watching until Nick and I slowly disappear, laughing and stumbling away into the darkness.
The wooden jetty is a mile long. It pulls away from the fingers of the mangroves that border the small, windy town on the Indian Ocean. As kids, we fished for Mulloway there, sitting on the jetty’s broad beams, our legs dangling and our toes pointing to Africa. In 1907 my great grandfather was seen running along this same jetty. It had started to rain; he told someone that he was going back to town. His name was John Travers and he was never seen again.
When it berthed at the next town 300 miles away, police searched the ship he had been meeting; they spent days combing the waters around the jetty. No sign of the ex-pearler was ever found. In the town he left a wife of 34 and a little girl born just a few months earlier. The baby girl was my grandmother. She and her mother would eke out a living in the lonesome, dusty town in a small shop near the Settlers Hotel.
In 1915 my great grandmother tried to return to Scotland where she had been born but the authorities turned her back saying the trip was too dangerous in a time of war. She returned to the town and died there in 1945 famous for her cakes and her iron will.
The little girl grew up and became a teacher. She taught in tiny Australian bush schools during the twenties and thirties. She was a romantic who read the Rubayit of Omar Kayam and Locksley Hall by Tennyson. She married an unromantic mechanic who rose to be Speaker of the House of Representatives. She had three children and one of them was my mother. Then she got chronic arthritis and spent years in a wheelchair racked with pain, unable even to hold a pen. She never spoke of her long lost father.
In 1993, after 86 years of life, she lay in the small town’s hospital, the same small town where she had arrived in 1907 as a baby. She was slipping in and out of consciousness, sometimes lucid, at other times vague. One day she called my mother to her bed. She had on her face that look of someone who realises something for the first time. “What is it, Mum?” asked her daughter.
The old lady smiled. “I think I’m finally going to meet my father,” she said.
There’s this Canadian pizza place not far from Niagara Falls. If you look through the window you can see the tables decked out in red and white checks. There are wooden chairs with square backs; there is a green, black and red menu. It is a typical pizza joint like any other pizza joint in the world.
Can you can see a man sitting with a beautiful woman, so beautiful that even other women notice? See there, she is dark skinned because she carries the ancient blood of Sicily and Calabria. The pale man next to her is me.
The man and the woman are on their honeymoon and they are in love. They think they will always be in love. And, because of this, they think everyone in the world is their friend; that everyone in the world is good. People smile at them in Hawaii and Vancouver and London. The world is really the same as it always was but the married couple don’t see its darkness any more.
If you look to the doorway now you will see a man from America is walking into the pizza place. He is about 50 and his wife about 30. She is Asian and seems nervous. They sit at a table not far from the lovers. He orders a beer and she asks for a coke.
The friendly waiter has been talking to the newly weds about Australia. “I have a cousin in Melbourne,” he says. Then he goes off to serve the only other couple in the restaurant.
The American drums his fat fingers. His wife touches his hand. She says something to him. He says, “I’ll send it back.” But she shakes her head, she says not to worry. But the man does worry. He calls the waiter. “This coke is not fresh,” he says.
“But, Sir,” says the waiter, “I poured it straight from the bottle. I don’t think…”
“Goddamn it,” says the man. “If the lady says it’s not fresh then it’s not fresh.” The waiter says he will get a fresh coke; the lady murmurs thankyou.
Soon the waiter is back and taking care to pour a new coke from the bottle that he opens at the table. The American is still angry. “Remember you’re in a service industry,” he growls.
The waiter, with the gentlest genuflection, says, “I hope that this coke is fresh, M’am.” And then he turns to the man. “I hope your daughter enjoys her meal, Sir.” The American turns red and yells, “Goddamn it, she’s my wife!”
As the waiter apologises, he turns to the Australians and for a moment a broad smile drifts across his face. And then he winks.
Later, in bed, the man and his beautiful wife laugh. Even waiters are funny and good when you’re in love.
“…when he (Onan) went into his brother’s wife, he spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother’s name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing…” Genesis 38: 7-10
OK, so masturbation proved very dangerous for poor old Onan but, really, it can’t hurt you, can it? I mean, short of using sandpaper or a potato peeler, a short visit to Mother Palm and her five daughters has got of be one of the safest lifestyle choices, right? Leaving aside the possibility of getting slain by the omnipotent, it has got to be safer than hang gliding…or being an Iraqi…or marriage.
When I was 15 my mother surreptitiously sneaked a rather quaint book entitled ”On Becoming a Man” into my bookshelf. It contained some interesting, slightly arcane advice including, “The unnatural production of ejaculation is called masturbation…it tends to rob the young person of his incentive for accomplishment. He loses interest in worthwhile enterprises…he loses interest in the lofty things of life…masturbation can become a tyrant…(The young person) adopts an attitude of stupidity…his mental development lags.” I was quite relieved to find the reason for my poor grades but reluctant to discuss it with my principal.
And anyway, I wondered if my mother really understood all this stuff. Surely not. If I had told her I was spanking the monkey she would probably have called the RSPCA.
So I entered adulthood completely undaunted by tales of hairy palms, blindness or imbecility. After all, I was modern man, sipping at my Chardonnay and smirking at the masturbatory myths of my elders.
And then, the other day, I read this:
“Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome (TMS) is the habit some males have of masturbating in a face-down (prone) position. Some TMS practitioners rub their penises against the mattress, pillow, or other bedding, while others thrust into their hand. Some rub against the floor. Masturbating face-down puts excessive pressure on the penis, and especially on the base of the penis. These sensations are not easily replicated in conventional masturbation or in sexual intercourse. This can make TMS practitioners unable to have normal sexual relations… The most common problems TMS sufferers have are inorgasmia (also called anorgasmia; it’s the inability to have an orgasm during intercourse); or delayed orgasm.
Many TMS sufferers also have trouble getting erections. It’s a common experience among males who are used to masturbating face-down to engage in sexual intercourse for over half an hour, fail to have an orgasm, and then try to reach orgasm in an atypical (and usually unenjoyable) way, such as thrusting the penis against his partner’s legs, palm, or bed. Needless to say, the female partners of these men find their behaviour unusual and disturbing. These women often wonder if they are to blame for the man’s inability to reach orgasm through intercourse…” If your hand is free, click here
This is so typical, damn it! I finally get an interesting hobby and it turns out to be just another bad habit!
It is almost de rigueur to have a go at America these days. In fact, I hear generalisations about Americans from people who would never be caught dead making the same stereotypical observations about women or black people.
Of course, here in Australia, give or take a few thousand dead Aborigines, we like to see ourselves as pretty damn perfect. We figure that if we have little influence for good in the world, then at least we also have little influence for bad.
But America, now there’s a country with influence! I know, I know – how do you forgive a nation that gave us Britney Spears, the bomb and McDonalds?
But to be fair, Australia did give America Rupert Murdoch.
Criticism of the US tends to be justified on the grounds of its foreign policy decisions, which conjures up images of very large stones and fragile glasshouses.
Just to remind ourselves, let’s name some of the great foreign policy highlights of:
England – Suez? The concentration camps of the Boer War? That whole empire thing, perhaps?
France – Don’t mention Algeria…
The United Nations –Rwanda who?
Russia – Good morning, Chechnya.
China – Tibet or not Tibet
Italy – Don’t give me that “Benito told me to do it” crap.
Germany – well, we all know what they did…
Australia – aiding and abetting, mostly on the coat tails of the United States of England or America.
Anyway, in the interests of balance, just this once I would like to thank America for the following:
- Bob Dylan
- John Steinbeck
- Meryl Streep
- New York City
- The Internet
- Martin Luther King Jnr.
- Clam Chowder
- The iPod
- Rock and Roll
But look, America, if we take back Olivia Newton John, will you take back all the Mormons? Please?
Now there’s a foreign intervention that really gets up my nose.