Subscribe to the our newsletter to receive latest news straight to your inbox.
You might think the question facetious but it really is not. When I told my partner what I was going to write about she almost choked on her coffee. In a good way that is. A black sense of humour on my part gels well with her sense of the ridiculous. “But I’m not being…
You might think the question facetious but it really is not. When I told my partner what I was going to write about she almost choked on her coffee. In a good way that is. A black sense of humour on my part gels well with her sense of the ridiculous.
“But I’m not being ridiculous!” I begged, now laughing too. “I’m serious!”
“Well good luck.” She said. “I will never understand why you always want to dive into the moshe pit full of angry wasps. I’m sure it’s insecurity.”
My dead wife- ex-wife in both senses of the words, was a strongly determined, and totally mad woman, beyond the control of any human, man, woman, or child. She had views that often clashed with the very argument she intended to win. (Win at all costs of course, and generally speaking she did. More by ambush than anything else.) She saw feminism as little more than an equal interaction between all the defined sexes. “Men cannot be feminists so stop encouraging them!” She would lay into other women who even mentioned men being feminist. It was a delight (sometimes) to watch her demolish the opposition, and, I must admit to a grudging pride in her manner.
There was nothing she could not, or would not do on equal terms with any man.
Being a startlingly beautiful redhead deterred her not one jot. Her astonishing beauty was just one weapon in her arsenal. There were many weapons, though she would never stab one in the back. She might stand squarely in front of her adversary and stab to the heart with the precision of a surgeon. Then remove said heart.
The thing is, my NOW partner of almost twenty years has the same high achieving ability, with with quite different personality. She is sane.
Through the sixties and the seventies, eighties and nineties… and the noughties she was and is still a sharp career woman.
She started as a lowly nurse, an Australian in London. Walked in as a fresh faced young lady of twenty years, having completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse.
Middlesex hospital. That was where she strode in, all youth and confidence. She had started her training at the age of seventeen and when Middlesex Hospital became one of her targets for work, she was immediately employed. It was a case of “When can you start?”
“When do you want me to start?”
“Here’s your uniform. You are on the night shift.” Oh! The days when one could just walk into a job!
So there she was, twenty years old, an RN, and suddenly being offered half a dozen other jobs from London hospitals (which she had applied to on spec.) Of course, with the integrity she has always shown, she chose to stay at Middlesex.
Let’s do that fast-forwarding thing a few years. Her ambition and abilities saw her studying hard to become a doctor while at the same time enjoying the glitter of the London clubs and pubs. She worked hard and shone, but within the system at that time, as a nurse studying, becoming a doctor had some obstacles. Not the least of which was that after some reflection she decided that she “Didn’t much like sick people. They vomit, and defecate.. and sometimes worse! Sometimes they grope and denigrate. I didn’t much like any of that!” (All that power over sick people embedded into her what she describes as ‘Hospital Humour’.)
Oddly enough she loved ED. The Emergency Department was her go-to place. She enjoyed the constant rush, the buzz and the heroics of interns, doctors, nurses, surgeons and orderlies all working together as a well-oiled machine. Straight, gay, men, women and undetermined, they all just ‘got on with it’. Exhausting, exciting, an Adrenalin rush.
In those situations there was always a lot of banter. Today there would probably be a social media riot and questions asked in parliament. No one took any offence. It was what it was. That was then and this is now as they say.
Feminism was a big issue back then. Germaine Gree had written “The Female Eunuch” Helen Gurly Brown founded “Cosmopolitan”. Richard Neville, was pounding London with the brilliant “Oz” magazine and everyone wanted to be free of the shackles they imagined they were slaves to.
In earlier days the “Beats” or “Beatnicks” were a bunch of chain-smoking don’t-give-a-shit male writers and poets who chose to remain unshaven, dishevelled and wherever and whenever possible they gave lectures to smoke filled rooms full of male reporters about how they didn’t give a shit. Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer (God forbid!) Allen Ginsberg, the poet no one could ever actually understand. Their brief was to tell radio, press, and television reporters to sit on it and twirl. There was no room in THAT society for women of course. (Except for those who might report favourably upon their doings.)
By the time my partner went nursing the hippie movement had replaced the Beats and the Beatnicks (happily) and it was in full swing. Boys and girls were embracing each other and the idea of ‘feminism’. Feminism back then was spearheaded by the delightfully intellectual and ascerbic Germaine Greer and a cohort of like- minded women, (who often fought between themselves about the very definition of feminism.) At the same time “Hanoi Jane” Fonda, still known and loved for her role as “Barbarella” (produced by the arrogant and sexist husband Roger Vadim) led protests against the Vietnam war. Along with Joan Baez.
If one finds oneself with a nursing degree but an honest distaste for projectile vomit, and ego maniacal surgeons with God complexes, but a strong admiration for matrons (as they were then) one must take a step or two back and reconsider. Matrons were great! They had an authority that could send doctors and surgeons scurrying or grovelling with little more than a cold stare and a sharp rebuke. Good matrons like the one at Middlesex Hospital kept order amid potential chaos. They defended their nurses- (but woe-betide any nurse who stepped out of line.) Management! Yes! That was the way to go. All it needed was a plan.
She returned to Australia, went back to university, got the degree, climbed the greasy pole, and became the CEO of a small Melbourne hospital. Extending that greasy pole, she became a senior manager in the building of a four hundred bed brand new hospital in Townsville, Queensland.
Never once did she see herself as a “feminist” in any political or social sense. Just a woman, equal to all around herm, and like my dead ex-wife, respected and sometimes feared by men, women, girls, boys and those of undecided gender or sexual proclivity.
Of course along the way she bumped into a few Neanderthals- but it takes all kinds, and they were but pebbles on the beach.
At the same time the perks of being female were never dismissed. When men or boys opened doors, stood aside to let her enter first, stood up on public transport or smiled and said “I like your hair/dress/eyes..” all that stuff just like my dead ex-wife she smiled, offered her thanks, and took the gift of being put first among equals. Construction workers with bare chests and hard hats, wolf-whistling were always acknowledged with a bright smile and a wave. (Of course these days a construction worker would be taken to task just for being bare chested! Occupational Health and Safety.) Things were different back then!
In the wash-up we are men, boys, blokes, lads, guys fellas,and they are all acceptable and unremarkable no matter our age or maturity. Not so for women. (At least these days I would never call a woman a girl or a bunch of girls ‘guys’. Not on social media!)
To many women, the androgynous “guys” is absolutely not acceptable, and to call a bunch of women ‘girls’ would bring out the lynch mob and get a bloke dismembered, with said member inserted in one’s own rear end.
For some insane reason “Bastard’ and “Bitch” have been assigned a masculine and feminine, and variants of ‘Bitch” are reserved for those people of colour who, bless them, have not been tarred by the same feminist brush. However, a woman can call a man a bastard but woe betide any man who calls a woman a bitch. Doesn’t seem fair to me.
Here is the rub. Men cannot be feminists! Two strong women over a period of fifty plus years have asserted that. Men can support equality. They can stand up and condemn the Weinsteins and the Trumps for the lording of power over some women. Not all, and not even all they have tried it with. Condemnation is what those men require. Condemnation and more. What has not yet been said is that there are powerful homosexual men who try the same on those with lesser power.
There are powerful lesbian women just the same.
There are powerful women, equally woeful who enjoy putting the hard word on unwilling men. In all it is much of a muchness. They may or may not profess to be feminists but they are still scumbags, male or female. (Or whatever they may identify as.)
There must be an equal and opposite word to “Feminist.” For the life of me I can’t find anything acceptable to those who want to inflict it upon me! “Masculinist” has been rejected by the feminist self-elected spokesfolks. I’m not fighting for men’s rights, and while I can advocate for the right of others to be equal, I cannot be a feminist simply because I cannot experience what it must be like to be a woman. My dead ex-wife often railed against women who constantly blithered about ‘equality’ because in her estimation, AND that of most others who came across her interesting personality she was already equal. Equal in her mind, and in her actions. She could do anything a man could do, sometimes better, and sometimes scandalously better!
Two strong, successful, clever women have made the point abundantly clear that I cannot be a feminist. I am not a woman.
Perhaps ‘equalist’ could encompass everyone. It’s not satisfactory but it probably as good as we can get right now. In ‘Animal Farm” George Orwell said that “All animals are created equal… but some are more equal than others.” I can’t fault that really. These days with LGBTQI and all the letters of the alphabet between we have created more problems than we have solved. Now we don’t have just men and women. We have men, women, boys, girls, and a whole range of determined and indeterminate genders. Human beings molest and harass other human beings and should be brought to book when they do. Not 20, 30, 40 and more years later when in most cases only the word of the alleged victim holds any water and the alleged perpetrator has no leg to stand on. How can we convict someone of doing something that was not a crime at the time of its commitment? (Yes I stand to be howled down.) Complain AT THE TIME and make it loud, public and then supply some evidence.
In Israel recently a man who is alleged to have made so called terrorist threats was, without any evidence whatsoever deported for trial. At the same time in Israel despite many attempts, an ex headmistress of an all girls school who DID molest up to seventy four girls remains free and safe in Israel because her lawyer argued ‘mental problems’. (At the time of writing she is back in remand and perhaps there will be some justice for the girls who were abused.) Hopes.
I don’t know how that works for you but I don’t hear social media condemning that behaviour en- masse.
In Australia Archbishop Wilson was sentenced to six months ‘house arrest’ for not reporting an abusive priest four decades ago. Social media went mad of course. He has later been acquitted but not before being made a pariah. The news media and social media always called him “Archbishop” Wilson. (a deliberate use of his title.) What they did not say, not one single one was that at the time of the offence he was but a very lowly priest with no power within the church. He rose to become an Archbishop and in all those years afterwards when he did have some power used it to decry and seek out those within his church who preyed on young and defenseless boys and girls. For that he received no praise. Should he have, as a mere youth just out of the seminary complained, thus losing his job and being unable to later save many others? (The question is rhetorical, no need to answer it.)
Whether you are a man or a woman, an girl, boy, whether you are gay, straight, transgender or not quite sure yet there are always those who would attempt to assert power over you.
Now I see you frowning. After all this you are asking “Your point?”
Simples! Feminism is for women and girls asserting their equality. It is not appropriate for men to be feminists. There is a new and scary thing on the horizon. Cultural Appropriation. Now that should be fun to keep people occupied arguing for a while.
I’m not a feminist. That would be inappropriate.