When 1 DIK … is too many

Funny is how 100% of the people I showed this bumper sticker to did not describe it, a photo of which I took a couple of weeks ago after tailing the vehicle into my own workplace car park. What luck!

And clearly I needed to write this blog, because I still can’t get the shitty contents of this graphic art triumph out of my head.

So why is it still bothering me?

Because 100% of the people I showed it to were just as offended as me, responding with either the word itself, or simply with an offended, uncomfortable grimace.

So why isn’t this creepy sticker as funny as the stickee believes it to be? Isn’t it a light-hearted dig at women/girlfriends/wives and their secret desire to be sex slaves within the consensual (oh, yeh mate, of course) confines of a loving hetero relationship? No, if it was, you wouldn’t need a bumper sticker to declare such a personal thing, surely.

But then we are dealing with a man’s ego here, as immature as the day it likely first reared its ugly head, during boyhood perhaps, when praised for not running like a girl or told to stop playing with dolls, because, only girls play with those. A pretty awful generalisation, I know, but so is this image.

Interestingly, the sticker was firmly adhered to the rear bumper of a family Toyota 4WD (another reflection of inadequate appendage size?) complete with window sock and baby seats.

Part of the time, this unnecessarily large car is very possibly driven by a woman – to whom this ‘innocent’ joke applies – and perhaps she has her reasons for condoning it. But on her behalf, I’ll call it out as redundant and inept in its crass, one-dimensional demonstration of how women deserve to be regarded in the community.

The driver was a husky man of about 30, wearing a baseball hat and keenly glued to his mobile phone as I spied him struggling up the stairs, probably to an appointment at a nearby private business – I doubt he was on his way to the adjacent library or seniors centre; I fear his intellectual offering may fall short of this demographic.

A gross reflection of base male thinking this sticker is, but is its grubby content an example of ‘toxic masculinity’?

No! According to US Emmy winning animator, author Mark Greene (don’t confuse him with the fictional yet infinitely more realistic television doctor character Mark Green of ER fame), it’s a product of a ‘toxic culture of masculinity’, not just ‘toxic masculinity’.

Talk about splitting hairs and sticking your head in the suffocating sand of men’s ancient history of inappropriate behaviour towards the female gender. Greene believes the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is likely further damaging men and we really shouldn’t speak this way! Because calling it out is rude and clearly not working.

Greene has recently penned an article called ‘Why Calling It “Toxic Masculinity” Isn’t Helping” at https://tinyurl.com/y77t7dcx or at medium.com

It pleads with us not to use such hurtful language because it is wounding our already terribly damaged and fragile men, who need compassion in these dark times of murdering female partners and mass shootings of innocents, often children.

How about ‘misleading masculinity’ or ‘consent-averse masculinity’ or ‘murderous masculinity’? I think ‘toxic masculinity’ is quite polite in terms of the damage some members of the male gender feel it necessary to inflict on society, daily.

But hey, we know you mean well Greene, just so long as the source of the compassion comes from the slavish section of society we like to call women. Who according to some of Greene’s other articles, if you read between the lines, are at least partly responsible for withdrawing physical contact from their sons during childhood, which causes them to need, nay demand, sex on tap from their wives later in life. Read this beauty here: https://tinyurl.com/yayrh7v2 or over at medium.com.

But back to the sticker – is this a typical display of how men with a bad case of ‘toxic masculinity’ see women/their girlfriend? Either as their mother (a boring A-line dress-wearing servant) or their slave (compliant and exciting, yet disposable)?

Well, now that I’ve been reminded of my place in our non-toxic patriarchal society, it’ll be so much easier to fit in!

I’m hoping as many women as possible see this wonderful piece of contemporary hieroglyphics, along with their sisters and daughters, as an edict of what’s expected in the potentially painful years of heterosexual partnering ahead, if that’s your jam.

But most of all, I hope as many young hetero-normative lads as possible store this little gem of wisdom away for future days, as they search for the pleasure-providing little women of their adulthood.

The rego plate beginning with the prefix 1DIK, is in no way to be misconstrued as the male driver’s true identity, even so far as the state’s transport authority is concerned.

jerk car sticker 3

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Wolf whistle-ee bites the hand that feeds

HE wasn’t anything special physically, possibly even under par – but that could just have been his scruffy garage work uniform. Perhaps he scrubbed up ok in a suit at a mate’s wedding, or even after a shit, a shower and a shave, as blokes are wont to say.

But I would never make an ‘out loud’ judgement specifically directed at him to let he and everyone else within earshot know what I thought of his appearance – beau or bogan.

That would be rude, bullying, arrogant – lord knows I’ve tried to model behavioural traits that contradict these to my two daughters.

I didn’t know the first thing about his personality. He could be someone my mother would love, or a fraudster, or very sensitive about being thrust into the spotlight. So me making an ‘out loud’ physical judgement would only be telling part of his story, a story I didn’t know intimately enough to tell accurately. And it would limit him to one thing only – his appearance. And we all know that’s only skin deep and changeable, depending on the day, the mood, the circumstance, the lighting for gawd’s sake.

So why do some men (or women) find it necessary and acceptable to let a woman (or man), usually a complete stranger, know they look above par…attractive…hot…to them, personally, in a way that also sends a clear message to others with ears in the area?

And are there times, in this politically correct age, when the controversial wolf whistle is acceptable behaviour?

If I’m honest, hearing a stranger wolf whistle me when I was in my mid-teens was sort of thrilling…I may have felt differently had I seen the source of this admiration. It usually came from a passing car. Probably driven by a balding married man with middle-age spread; or a pimply late teen with P Plates on the floor beside a clinking crowd of empty stubbies. The beer bottles, not the shorts…

Somehow in my salad days, those whistles gave me an idea I looked acceptable in a public sense. That I wasn’t embarrassing myself with how I presented my very ordinary appearance. It wasn’t until years later that I realised the wolf whistle said more about the whistler than the whistle-ee. Perhaps those early ‘commenters’ had an inappropriate thing for young girls. **My skin has actually grown legs and is crawling all over itself!**

Inevitably, after a few years of sustained ‘comment’ I began to lose confidence, avoid or fear certain situations and cringe to my very core – my initial thrill had briefly turned to anger before nestling in plain old dread and humiliation.

I was 41-years-old before I stood up for myself, by standing up to my wolf whistler. My daughters were so proud!

As I arrived at my place of work, where I was a senior manager, I would park in the nominated car bay and start the 20m walk to my office’s back door. It was double the distance to the front door and in the rain, it felt triple that on those dark whistle-laden days.

As I made my way to the closest entry point of my workplace, I had to walk up to and past the open roller door of a neighbouring auto mechanic business. Men often stood in the communal access way, having smoko. I would nod and smile politely in greeting. It would be rude not to given I was walking straight past them in a relatively confined space.

This was all very normal and acceptable. Until. The wolf whistle. My eyes dropped straight to the bitumen as I walked more efficiently than ever to the door, willing it to be unlocked so I wouldn’t have to navigate my key into its sticky innards. The relief once I got inside that door was immense. It was a one-off. Incident over.

But no. It became an almost daily occurrence over about two weeks. And the whistler wasn’t shy. He would lean against the outside wall and blatantly make his comment as I came within metres of him. By this time I was worrying about it on the drive to work, I’d shared the story with a couple of close workmates, girlfriends, even my daughters. We all thought this bloke was an absolute tool.

It was making me miserable. I started to ditch the heels and wear flats, hoping to look less ‘womanly’, more homely, or at least less like the siren he thought he should activate.

One morning though, I was in a bad mood, some incident at home, and I was still stewing over it on the drive to work. The perfect storm. My dander was already up.

So I just let him have it, in my own understated, direct fashion.

As the whistle came, I surprised myself by changing direction and heading straight for him.

“Why do you do that?” I asked.

“I thought you liked it,” came his stuttering reply.

“No. I don’t like it at all. It makes me feel really embarrassed. Could you please not do it,” I stated.

“I’m really sorry. I won’t do it again. Sorry,” he blustered, visually shrinking before me.

“That’s ok,” I said, before propelling myself towards my destination and victory!

It never happened again and I’ve shared this story a few times, mainly as a way to subtly let men know women don’t appreciate being singled out with a wolf whistle and to let other women, particularly younger ones, know it’s important to step up sometimes, and say what you really think, without overreacting.

Everyone has agreed with me that this sort of wolf whistle is inappropriate. Except for one person. A former colleague, an English woman in her early 60s who said women should take it as a compliment, and that it was harmless. She said English men often did it and that they weren’t afraid to show their feelings or their appreciation of an attractive woman, unlike Australian men, who were more interested in their cars. While that sounds like a great theory, anecdotally, that is rarely how we are left feeling.

I can think of times I’ve wolf whistled my girlfriends quietly, but in a public forum, like when I’ve discovered them in the same aisle at the supermarket. And the look on their face is always one of embarrassment-slash-annoyance, until they see me. Then we smile and hug. This might be the only time it’s acceptable – among very real friends. When we know the whole story.

Giving the colour pink a bad name

I am pink with irritation.

Not all women like pink or consider themselves denoted as female by the mere use of the sickly colour.

Not all women appreciate being singled out as such, by being told they can now park more safely in their own special pink ‘female-friendly’ car bays, where the security lighting and CCTV coverage is better.

And not all people are stupid enough to have the woolly fairy floss of laziness pulled over their eyes by a council trying to get away with not spending money on decent car park security for everyone – regardless of gender, age, ability or whether or not you have children and a pram in the back of your wagon.

Here, in the marshmallow-scented capital city of the nanny state of Western Australia, the City of Perth has employed a sugar-coated marketing ploy to encourage women to park in the few car bays that do have proper night lighting and CCTV coverage.

Mary Poppins would recognise this as a cynical attempt to spend less on security, spit spot!

It is a spoonful-of-sugar attempt to provide better protection, but glaringly it’s aimed at only one section of society.

A small article in Perth’s daily newspaper today states the bays will be easily identified by pink signs, walls and poles during a three-month trial close to exits in one council car park.

But here’s the real icing on the cake. The article also states, without attribution to anyone, that the bays are “the same size as regular bays”.

If that statement isn’t a slight on women drivers, I don’t know what is – the size of the bay will not influence the behaviour of would be attackers any more than the colour pink.

So why was this information even in the article in the first place? If it is a question that has been asked by several, prompting that line of enquiry, then whoever supplied the response should be quoted, at least.

If statistics do exist somewhere showing women as the main culprits of at fault bingles, scratches and crashes in car parks, it’s probably because they are usually the ones that drop off children to school/childcare on their way to work before parking the family car, and again later as they are slowly irradiated by fluorescent lighting while foraging at the supermarket.

There are statistics that show men are just as vulnerable to attack in public places at night, with many ending up in hospital after banging their heads on kerbs and bitumen as terrible proof.

At its worst, the pink-ifying of parking bays almost accepts that there will be attacks on women in car parks because they are vulnerable targets. No – that behaviour is not acceptable in society, for any gender.

Yes, women do like it when someone is kind, or thinks of our comfort and/or safety. But so do men. So why can’t the City of Perth be nice to everyone and provide secure parking for all? Not just those born with ovaries and a stereotypical matching obsession with the colour pink, or the men who love the delicate shade and can park carefree in the knowledge that they will not be fined for doing so and will be safer for it.

Now, that would be just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Howling with a heavy brogue

IF a man indulges in casual sexism in an unintelligible accent, is he really being an ignorant oaf?

Or consider this.

If a woman doesn’t realise she is the butt of a man’s casual sexism, does it mean she’s no longer a feminist?

Hard hitting questions, all.

This post is a confusing one for me to write – so I’ll just tell it as it happened, because, it was an amusing blip in my otherwise ordinary day.

It was a Monday. I’d happily survived another one and was walking post-work from the train station to where I park the car – about a five minute walk; I’ve convinced myself if I don’t have time for formal exercise on any given day, at least I walked briskly for 10 minutes. And used the stairs instead of the lift. And only had two chocolates at 3pm with a cup of tea.

Deep in aimless, western society thought…what should I make for dinner, damn I forgot to book the dogs in for a groom, again, that champagne on Saturday was really nice, what brand was it…I was pulled from my mental meanderings by a rogueish brogue.

Well. I didn’t know that’s what it was until my mind had caught up with the situation – someone was talking to me, or attempting to.

As I turned my head toward the train station access road beside me, I noted a white 4WD ute had slowed to walking pace and a male driver, dressed in hi-viz, was talking out his open window. Probably to me. Because there was nobody else around.

My thoughts began to speed up, I checked my surroundings wondering if he was slowing to give me a warning about some sort of nearby danger, maybe someone was nicking my car, but how would he know which car was mine, and why do we suddenly think these weird sorts of things?

There was only one thing to do.

“I beg your pardon,” I genuinely asked, looking for clarification of the impending danger.

“Yaprollydoneffennohowotyearrrr,” came the repetitive, slur-ry reply.

Now, I know the helpful grinning man was repeating his statement so I could better understand it, but it sounded just the same, only slightly slower.

As my brain worked overtime to decipher it, and matching it with his boofhead smile, I instinctively realised bodily danger was not imminent. Besides, there was a fence and a car between him and me.

And then it clicked.

“You probably don’t even know how hot you are,” was the helpful offering of life advice, in a thick Irish brogue.

And what was my brilliant reply?

“Okey doke.”

Brilliant! A wordsmith without the wherewithall to wield them.

Well, what was I supposed to say? And what was it all supposed to mean?

But, back to my first question – was this harmless gent a sexist oaf?

No. I think he thought he was giving me a compliment. Because, it’s a looong walk from the train station to the deserted car park and I don’t know how much more silence I could have endured without a reassuring ‘compliment’ from a stranger. Withdrawals already!

We women need reassuring that we are hot, don’t we. I will refrain from making a dad-joke about the weather at this point. (Ooops, was I being sexist then? Sorry dad.)

Was I being an anti-feminist by not calling him out as a sexist or in fact, not realising that’s probably what he was being? It only became clearer when watching this week’s hooha following Chris Gayle’s clumsy and inappropriate flirtation with TV sports reporter Mel McLaughlin. I’m a bit slow on the uptake some days.

I say inappropriate because it’s not nice to show someone up in public for your own entertainment. If a romantic relationship did eventuate from this shallow televised attempt, expect more of the same top quality respect for your feelings. Privately and publicly.

But, unsurprisingly, I digress.

In a nutshell, I was momentarily confused. I didn’t feel like a victim, because I don’t think our Irish friend set out to make me feel that way. I think Chris Gayle distinctively did. Ms McLaughlin certainly didn’t appear as a slaughtered lamb.

So, I am not an anti-feminist for just ‘shaking my head’ at the thoughtless things some men will do to communicate to a woman that they think they’re a bit of alright. I don’t think I needed to take any stronger action…I think my ‘okey doke’ will have convinced him beyond doubt of his stupid, sexist actions…pfffffttt!

But, seriously guys, what do you want us women to do when you offer an uninvited impression of our attractiveness? Scale the fence between us, clamber through your open window and plant sloppy, thankful kisses all over your dusty, stubble-pocked face, then use a hanky to wipe the spittle away and remind you to put your dirty work clothes in the laundry basket and not on the bedroom floor?

No. Well, behave then.

On another aside, we women don’t publicly voice our impressions of men’s physical appeal because from the moment we are born little girls are conditioned to behave politely and be sensitive to the feelings of others. It’s as simple as that. Or is it?

Blokes, it’s time to be awesome role models for the little men in your lives. It can’t just be mum’s job any more.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Picture: Norbert Rosing/Getty Images

 

 

Going round the Benz

 

It’s morning peak hour, just as harried working mothers are ferrying their children to school in the nick of time, up and down already congested roads, when the unthinkable happens.

Your car conks out right at an insanely busy intersection to an arterial route linking to the main freeway of the capital city in which you live.

This was me today. I apologise to everyone behind me in the metal line-up that stretched as far as the eye could see as cars, trucks, bikes, taxis, utes, SUVs, limousines (ok, that might be stretching the truth – ha! See what I did there…), did their best to steer around my forlorn 1975 Mercedes-Benz as it languished in the turning lane.

A remarkable woman for her age, the white automatic I’ve dubbed Ida – because she’s my private Idaho, not after the popular Germanic woman’s name – decided to have a little nanna nap at the lights.

Yeah, tell that to the frustrated, previously on-time drivers, doing their utmost not to erupt in road rage as they attempt what they do least best – merge.

Thankfully, as I fumbled in my purse for my gold RAC card, which I couldn’t find, then Googled the magic phone number and dialled it, only one fellow road user honked in desperation. But I was very focussed on trying to get myself out of a pickle so there were probably multitudinous birds being flipped, and looks trying to kill.

Finally, after what seemed like an absolute century, I successfully made contact with roadside assist who would send a tow truck forthwith to pull me off the road, freeing up the congestion I was sure must now be part of every commercial radio station’s droll 8am traffic report.

“A silly wild-haired woman is stranded in her posh (near) vintage petrol-guzzling Merc at one of the most used intersections linking to the City’s only congested freeway system, otherwise known as the carpark. Will someone give her a hand to push the clapped out piece of art onto the bloody median strip! Doesn’t she know we’ve all got deadlines to meet and rubber to burn at this time of day!!!”

Then, just as my stress levels peaked, a knight in shining armour pulled up beside me in a deep cherry red 90s Landcruiser, having logically mounted the kerb to do so, and offered to pull me off. What! That’s two offers in the space of three minutes! Maybe my luck was changing.

Michael ‘The Practical’ said he would happily attach a rope to the front of his car and the back of mine, before reversing up onto the generous, grassy median, removing me from harm’s way, and letting morning peak hour catch up with itself.

I couldn’t have been more overjoyed, especially when he mused that someone really should have offered help well before now, shading his eyes as they gazed into the distance at the endless snaking vehicular centipede.

Resolved to take action, I looked down at my gearstick and realised, sheepishly, that it was sitting neatly in ‘drive’…possibly the reason for my ignitionless ignition…oh, ooohhhhhh.

I gently put her in ‘park’ and turning the ignition again, Ida’s rhythmic pistons sparked into throaty life.

While she had stuttered on take-off due to her customary flat spot on acceleration, she probably would have started again quite quickly had I put her in park before trying to turn her over.

I admit it. Sometimes I am a silly wild-haired woman. But I guess you’ve figured that out by now.

So, why, when I have a perfectly serviceable 2010 Nissan sitting in my garage, was I driving that dinosaur, you ask?

Just to keep the motor ticking over 🙂

Dating male research assistants: Part II

HAVE I learnt anything more about myself or blokes since I last posted about the research project that is my love life?

Of course I have! It’s still sinking in though… so don’t ask me to make too much sense of it all. Yet.

I’ll begin by recapping – the South African rugby player I met for coffee had suffered one too many knocks to the personality zone of his brain while the Gallic gent had ingested far too much garlic in the preceding 12 hours, perhaps thinking I would suck him dry like a vampire.

Sure that I would soon stumble upon a ‘normal’ handsome yet interesting man, I embarked on my third date, with a couple of weeks in between to recoup.

The upmarket location was nice – hopefully that meant my date wouldn’t complain about the coffee. Pommy Dave was already sitting at our table when I arrived. And he turned out to be an easygoing guy with a GSOH, but coffee was not on his menu.

Despite having been out late to a concert with friends and waking with a hangover about an hour before our meeting, he decided a glass of white would go down a treat. I love a glass of bubbly or two but had made a deal with myself not to be that glass of bubbly while conducting this all important research. So I stuck with my green tea.

Dave had no problems in the conversation department. His first topic was how he had treated himself by recently buying a VW convertible. I was clearly supposed to be impressed, so I enthused over what I actually feel is an ugly little midget of a car with barely enough room to fit one let alone two kerbside junk collection chairs in the boot. Good on him though!

He had great teeth, like a good racehorse, nice skin, like a L’Oreal ad, and big blue eyes, a bit like Snugglepot, but I could detect an air of judgement about him. Not necessarily of me, but of people in general. Nothing overt, just a sense from a man who essentially worked as a freelance toe-cutter.   

We discussed daughters – we both have them – and jobs – we both had those, too – and I was really enjoying our banter when it was time for me to leave in time to pick up one of my offspring from her part time job. My, how time flies when you’re having fun…90-minutes had already elapsed.

As we stood up to go to the counter I realised my new friend was at least 10cm shorter than me (and I was wearing flat sandals) with a rotund beer belly poking out from beneath his deceiving black t-shirt.

It made the car seem a very sensible choice. I know I sound like a spoilt middleclass snob but I don’t want to have to encourage a man to look after his own health – he should already be aware of that at our age, right? This info was something I definitely provided to the agency when outlining my list of desirables. I don’t need another pet to train or cater to. I want a friend I am insanely attracted to and who is crazily enamoured with me, who wants to do some of the things I want to do for several long and happy years. Yes, I know. I’m possibly asking too much. Is that unrealistic? After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

But, part of another afternoon spent with a nice fellow human being of the opposite gender; at least my confidence talking to men in something other than a work-like mode was slowly developing.

And that is what I was beginning to learn. To have confidence in myself and my ability to hold a conversation that wasn’t a) about my children, b) about my work, or c) just a succession of ungodly jokes normally shared with my cackling coven.

The only men I really meet are in a formal, professional capacity which means I just want to make the necessary connection and then move on – white, middle-class, married, conservative-voting men are not usually of sustained interest to me. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong…naaahhhhh.

Do you read while you drive?

AS a rule, they still irritate me. But on the rare occasion personal number plates have been known to amuse me as I drive the 400-odd kms to and from work each week. I did say rarely…..

Here’s the latest crop of rego plates, recorded over the past four months.

I’ve tried to put them in categories, because I have OCD, but as you will see, some of these examples crossover several of these boundaries. For example the numberplate ‘feeln gr8’ could simultaneously feature in these categories: plain annoying, names, numbers, bodily functions, ego and emotions.

I’ll start with my favourite category.

Just plain annoying: Godlovesu (that’s a relief – even if I tailgate?), dvldunnit (did what?), rubizzy (so nosy), wotabuz (oh pleasseee), urbanister (huh?), hardhat (I give up), Tee it up (blah)

Unexplainable: by gum, petlamb, page one (an ambitious journo?), E titi (no comment), Dijon (French?), 2na (a fisherman?),

Names: Mr Geez, L MO, Rikoshay (smart if Rik and Shay own this car), AR FA, Suebeedo, Katy Cat, Shaz78, Dwayno (braino draino), Ashytude (I’ll pay that one), Fishface (the headmaster from Home and Away?), Bu11ant (must have a nasty bite)

Numbers: Einil8, Feeln gr8, Livin2bme (good on ya mate!), Live42day (profound!)

Seen on Holdens: Ivegotone, Outclubn, Pl4yTime, Fulthrtl, Shhwing, Mr SS2U, 1bad (seen going through a red light…)

Seen on a Ford: RIPHSV

Bodily functions: Twerk in (Miley, you have a lot to answer for), Shart (all class), Cramps (great band tho), Purrs (cats have bodies, too), Boogaz (this car was bright green), Y worry, Chillax, Whiplash, Gilty, Kak, Flossin, v1ru5, footlong (didn’t know what other category to put this in…), Toss3r (I’m serious!),

Car refs: Fully six, Kwoozn, Revmeup, Ur Lookn, Blownfuze, Numbrpl8 (seen on a motorcycle), Luxryaz, Imprezn, Vavazoom (Mazda), U Tily T

Ego: Mrawesome, Ironmaidn, Badmedcn, lilmsrite

Personality adjectives: Rugbgrl, Lvvvvly, Crazi, Dtrmnd, Golddggr, Crazygrl, Playful

TV refs: br34k b4d, Sxncty, tard1s,

Emotions: Tempted 2, aintbovrd (my all time fave)

All registration numbers use in this blog are genuine.