Saturday, October 07, 2006

My life in heels - a man's perspective.

A while ago I wrote a scathing rant about a well known "professional" blogger (how the hell does someone get a gig like that?) but never published it. The basic gist of that particular blog was about how men have it harder than women in this world but women whine more. He used examples like more men are in jail than women therefore duh men have it real bad. I wasn't quite happy with that assessment of gender relations. I have quite a few draft copies of rants that will probably never see the light of day. Judging by my terrible spelling and grammar you won't be surprised to know that I don't actually ever draft anything I write on this journal. I never take days to write a piece. I sit down and type, then I hit publish, then I go have a sandwich or something. Often I'll come back, re-read the entry and blush in embarrassment while trying to fix up the mistakes. There is a bit of catharsis involved in me having a journal and catharsis doesn't factor in a whole lot of editing. Also, I am an immediate kind of person - it doesn't make my journal any good but hey, at least I'm not rehearsed. heh. Anyway, the point is - most of the things I write here are stream of consciousness posts and so for me to have a draft and NOT publish it you KNOW it's gonna be a really dodgy entry - and I'm not talking about grammar here.

This professional blogger is basically a 'sex in the city' type writer, but for men. I dissagree with the point of view he takes on pretty much everything he writes about. To my eyes, he's shallow, egocentric and arrogant. I don't like people like that - men or women. Yet I read the blog for the "male perspective" even though it always makes me sad about the state of the world afterwards.. and the state of what 'men are really thinking'. A lot of the entries end up being a vehicle whereby certain commenters come in and prove what utter neanderthals they are when it comes to sexist attitudes. Of course there are other commenters who have a brain - so, thank god for them.

I've had his blog in my thoughts for a while but I'll get back to him in a moment.

A few days ago Rowena wrote a post which highlighted for me one main point: There is a vast difference in the way that men and women experience their everyday existence. Some people understand that and some people don't. These experiences of life lead them (men and women) to behave, percieve and approach life in different ways. We think differently and it's not all due to biology either. I'm not going to get into the argument of who has it worse in this society. Personal experience counts for a lot in my book. Find one person whose had a tough break and I guarrantee there'll will be a worse one out there. Tough breaks happen to men and women. Having said that I am a student of cultural studies. Cultural constructs are like a subliminal peer pressure, sometimes the way we act is a throwback to a wider societal pressure or construct of "the way things are" - they are supremely powerful but can be re-negotiated only after an awareness (of those constructs and how they affect us) is reached. Knowledge is power.

I wanted to respond to Rowena's post because it meant something to me personally. I wanted to write a post about my own experiences with feminism (to make it abundantly clear: I am one, but will not be defined by any one feminist except myself. I recognise that the first feminists FOUGHT for rights that we take for granted now. Furthermore, I would define the attitude where feminism is blamed for women being picky and single as decidedly vapid and ignorant). I wanted to write about what it was like to be a woman simply because sometimes men don't think about the other side even though they should. I wanted to write about where "anger" comes from. I wanted to share my particular definition of feminist. In fact I will: A feminist is someone who recognises the idea that every woman has a voice and supports the idea of using that voice to affect positive social change that allow the two genders to live more harmoniously and equally. Of course there is no one definition of a feminist. There is no one type of feminism. Women have other battles to fight too. We are women, but we are also black, or white, yellow, green, or environmentalists or lesbians, or straight or homemakers or whatever. We are so many things and each group has issues that are just as important as being a feminist, but which other feminists don't necessarily support. Thus you might get an eco-feminist and a radical feminist not quite agreeing on whether bleached menstural pads or male centered porn is the bigger issue. Maybe the label doesn't adequately explain everything we are.. That might be true. We might also need to get our shit together better - that's true too. Do I think that men can be feminists? Yes, but it's problematic.

Anyway, I wanted to write about that stuff but I couldn't find the right (or write) words - which is what always happens when it comes to writing something I know to be true in my heart. I don't ever tend to articulate those feelings very well because it's hard to separate the emotional and political sometimes. But I guess that's the mantra eh? The personal is political.

In response to Ro, Phil wrote a bit of a personalised analogy of where anger comes from from a very distinct point of view on his journal. That made me think about personal and political anger and which comes first and indeed wonder about how all great social change has come from someone being personally affected in some way by some sort of action or notion. That's powerful and important stuff.

Then I came across another post - back to that professional blogger guy. He finally wrote something that articulates something interesting: A man walking in women's shoes for a weekend. When I first read that blogger guy was going to do it I really got riled up. I've seen many episodes of The Footy Show (AFL). They've done many a sketch featuring cross dressing. They are homophobic, sexist, idiotic, numbskulls. I do not like those men at all. So when someone I percieve as pretty shallow and self absorbed wants to cross dress as a woman for a weekend I immediately think of The Footy Show and cringe. I also thought of the obvious fact that he can never really know what it's like to be a woman, he's physically stronger, he doesn't have the hormones to pull it off and he can kick off the heels when it gets too hard. Women can't. At best his experience is more related to that of a transsexual. But, though I cannot vouch for any of his other work, nor anything else he writes post this I thought it was an extremely interesting read and if you want to check it out it's here: All men are Liars. Bottom line, there is a lot of idiotic crap about him reaffirming his heterosexuality within this 'entry' - but there are a few gems as well.

Also check out the comments on the blog. They are more informative than the post itself - especially with regards to women's own experiences of life as a woman. Also with regards to one particular commenter who infuriatingly just does not seem to GET IT, AT ALL - an interesting representation of a certain subsection of men in our society or the dumbest man alive? I don't know. The point is, there's always another side to the story. Perspective is important. Here are a couple of quotes from the piece:

As I click-clacked toward the women's, a group of young guys in loud dress shirts sized me up and I steadfastly refused to look at any of them.

After doing that a dozen more times on the weekend, it dawned on me why so many women don't meet men's gazes on the street. It's safer not to engage. You hope they'll just ignore you.


The cab-ride with the star-struck Asian taxi driver had made a particular impression on me because of the way the cabbie had talked to Sofia and I.

I wouldn't call his attitude flirty, but it had been leading, suggestive, and his parting words of "maybe, I will see you around?" had left me in no doubt he would've come up for a cup of Bonox had I asked.

Talk to any woman about taxis and you'll find they hold a shimmer of menace that most men have never experienced. We get in them and get out and that's it, while almost every female I've spoken to has at least one story about the cab ride that could have ended very badly.

I thought also about the instant judgments I'd seen in people's eyes as I walked through the city. It forced me to recall my own judgments and for some reason my mind wandered to young women and all the times I'd been less than discrete perving.

I thought of the looks of confusion on the faces of playful, childish females when they realised there was no going back, that those budding breasts they were sporting were dragging them into a new world, like it or not.

I don't think men ever experience that shock of sexualisation like young girls do but it must be both terrifying and empowering, when childhood is stripped away and you're suddenly seen as an object for sex.

The more I thought about it, the more disturbed I became by my own ingrained lusts, by the countless times I'd seen women as little more than holes and lumps to squeeze or poke, lick or leer at.

I have had a few of those experiences outlined in the blog/comments. Whether you agree or not (and it is a tad melodramatic)..still an interesting read.