Monday, May 28, 2018

When women win

...we all win.

This is my first blog for a while on account of some seriously stinky sexist shit hitting my feminist fan a few weeks ago and making it VERY hard to breathe, much less type.

Also, Blogger decided, roughly at the same time, almost certainly in conspiracy with the sources of that stinky shit, to shut down my access to the function that allows me to see views and post news.

But, as if a lovely little lady leprechaun (leprechauns are supposed to be male and mischievous, but those ones aren't real, not anymore) worked her lovely lady magic to make THIS happen in the land of leprechauns and with it released my airways and fingers -- simply by signing out and in again under another name -- to type back.
The women of Ireland, at long last, deemed to be worth more than the smallest of their parts
The fan shit here still stinks and I am doing what I can elsewhere to clean that mess up -- I will let you know how that goes in due course -- but thanks to the brave women of Ireland who fought for their right to be considered more autonomous and human than a minuscule fertilised egg residing within their own bodies and won, I feel stronger this morning to carry on the fight to prove that I too am more, so much more, than a walking, weeping womb. I can talk and type back, too.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Bigger than Bill (Cosby, Constand and Consent)

Andrea Constand stands strong 
against systematic victim blaming and shaming
'This trial and verdict is bigger than Bill Cosby, it sets the groundbreaking precedent for the standard of consent... 

From opening statements to closing arguments, the defence used tactics of victim blaming and shaming... 

Cosby’s attorney told the jury that Constand’s rape was her fault, declaring that she wasn’t “acting like she was raped”...

These are tactics that are used to intimidate survivors—but Andrea Constand stood strong and was not intimidated.' Carmen Rios, Ms. Magazine

The Guardian describes this long overdue and in many respects unprecedented verdict in the re-trial of comedian Bill Cosby as 'a major milestone in the #MeToo movement against sexual assault', and it would seem that as his previous trial in 2017 prior to the first #MeToo revelations was deemed a mistrial, that without that movement Cosby would likely never have been convicted of sexually assaulting anyone, though he had already admitted in court to drugging women with powerful sedatives in order to prevent them from resisting his sexual advances. 

Six of Cosby's victims in court last year

Still, as it stands for the 80-year old comedian, who has continued to perform until last year, though Constand first came forward with her allegations against him 13 years ago, and by 2015 more than 60 other women had made similar public allegations against him, the decision (by a jury of 7 men and 5 women) that might send him to prison finally is the least the justice system can do to uphold women's human rights against sexual abuse and to deliver the message to boys and men that girls and women are not their sexual play things to be used and abused without punishment.

But it's a bloody good start.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two Women Leaders and a Baby

April 17, Berlin
It's not often you see two female political leaders side-by-side at a podium, and it's never that you see two female leaders side-by-side at a podium when one of them is pregnant! Indeed it's a wonder this unprecedented event last week did not break the universe, as TV's "Veep" predicted would happen in the US if the president and the veep were to both be women.

Alas, Veep's pre-Trump prediction was proven painfully prescient for that country, the universe of the USA proved that it could not hold together with the thought of even one female leader at the political podium.

However the backlash against that disastrous and misogynistic decision just might have contributed to bringing about this unprecedented podium we see here, with Merkel partly motivated to stand for a fourth term in office after Trump's win (worried as she was for the universe with a moron in charge of its only inhabitable planet), and the Women's March with record-breaking attendance here in NZ and around the world protesting this political outrage firing up voters against the political patriarchy of old here, whether on the left or the wrong wing of politics.

I for one gave more money to the party's campaign and attended it's campaign launch where Ardern gave her first official speech as leader, solely because she had taken over the reigns of leadership, having had little faith in the man who was leading the party before her and believing that gender politics matters in itself. Believing indeed that our present, still deeply unbalanced global political situation of only 11 female prime ministers or presidents in almost 200 countries, is the first thing that is wrong with the world of politics -- and indeed with the world altogether, given the ramifications of political patriarchalism.

And this picture above speaks a million words in favour of positive and critical change on this subject, not least because one of these women leaders is pregnant, and visibly so, sending the message to hundreds of millions, if not billions of women (and men) that pregnancy is not a disability and women can, and must, if they choose, combine motherhood and the most exacting jobs in the paid workforce and the universe will not break.

April 20, London
Indeed it might just be what saves our beleaguered 'universe,' if, that is, we have not left our matriarchal move too late.


Monday, April 16, 2018

A Quiet Place (please!)

Blunt and Krasinski and daughters last week
I think it's more than likely that Krasinski, who rewrote the screenplay for this film he also directs and co-stars in, and which begins with a ten-minute segment of agonising silence through which my teeth were poised painfully over the crunchy nut-choc top of my rapidly melting ice cream, was drawn to the project due to the arrival the previous year of his (and wife Emily Blunt's) second child.

'What's this script? "A Quiet Place"? I'm in.

I could be wrong.

Apparently Emily took a different view of the situation, though. She had to be persuaded to do the film, perhaps thinking it was not possible or believable to make a film that requires young children to be almost totally quiet for any period longer than, say, four and a half seconds. Aliens, yes, silent young (not asleep) children, no.

Or it might just have been that she was feeling a little postpartum still, having delivered their second child less than a year before hubby pitched the project to her.

But although she is partly right about the challenging premise, the film that she and John co-star in is a triumph on many levels and already a box-office hit. Other people love silence too, it seems.

And horror.

And Blunt and Krasinski paired, no doubt.

It's a rare thing to see real-life husband and wife films, not least because Hollywood is not known for its success in breeding happily married couples. The couple who make films together stay together, is not a thing. Until now, I suspect. These two are showing us how it's done. Never mind aliens with massive pointy bullet teeth and surprisingly noisy (the aliens aren't silent) shape-shifting heads. Give us a believably loving and respectful Hollywood couple and we're in.

At least I'm in. And, I suspect, a demographic that doesn't normally embrace horror is in for this film that is not only well acted by adults and children (and aliens) alike, but well re-written by Krasinski, who, I am guessing, modified what were probably more generic gender characterisations in the original script by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, to present a more balanced than usual distribution of blame and bravery between the male and female characters.

I could be wrong (again). If so well done to Woods and Beck, who wrote the original screenplay and who are contracted to write the sequel. I guess time will tell.

Certainly some of us are, unlike the aliens - who look remarkably similar to last century's aliens - finally beginning to evolve into gender-conscious and responsible beings who accept that the principles of feminism are the future, or at least the present and near future. Beyond that, it will depend on the backlash. If the guys with the money, madness, misogyny and might get their way, it might be a never-ending human silence as we self-destruct and the planet is taken over by screeching, shape-shifting aliens with bullets for teeth!

But let's hope not. Let's hope for a quiet(ish), kind place instead.         

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Is that my son???

Now normally I don't worry about my children...

Dunedin 10 April, 2018
but these are not normal times...

Now I know the EPIC storm that hit our little island(s) yesterday is not ALL about me and mine -- there has been serious flooding and mud slips and record hail and airport closures from the top to the bottom of this normally quite sensible country when it comes to weather (if you discount earthquakes). But our youngest moved down south to Dunedin a couple of months back and HE IS NOT ANSWERING MY MESSAGES TODAY REQUESTING INFORMATION AS TO HIS WELL-BEING AND THE WORST STORM DAMAGE IS IN DUNEDIN!!

So I am a little worried.

If this is him -- those black jeans look awfully familiar -- then I am not reassured that he is totally fine and looking after himself as he promises us he is!  

If it is not him I am even more worried as he might be in worse straights than this! At least this chap is running! Our youngest is so nonchalant these days he is liable to stroll through a storm (or try to). 

Alternatively, he might be asleep. I never thought I'd be pleased to know one of my boys was asleep after midday, but at this point that's presenting itself as the best case scenario. Fingers crossed.

Some more photos of yesterday's storm from the north island (Auckland and the Bay of Plenty) --

News flash! Number two son is alive and well (and awake), enjoying the unseasonable autumn snow in Dunedin and not running around in the rain. 

Actually I was kind of hoping it was him in the hoody running, not only because he's running, but because it's been a few months since I've clapped eyes on him doing anything, as he resists my requests for photos. 

Have to wait for the next storm, I guess. 


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Going Going Gaffigan

We were going to see Jim Gaffigan last year in Auckland but the tour was cancelled when his wife's doctor discovered "a tumour the size of a pear" in her brain. So we went to see him last night instead...

And he was great, well worth the wait. 

Better still, his wife Jeannie is with him on this down under tour and, as he told us last night, is now in pristine, pear-free health, and was happily minding their five kids, who are also on the tour with them, back at the hotel. They were no doubt the reason the show was scheduled for a 7pm start instead of the usual 8pm. 

We were wondering how he would deal with this frightening episode in their young family's life and were impressed with his ability to joke about it - "I was thinking, if anything goes wrong, these kids are going to have to be put up for adoption!" - but still convey his genuine relief, love and gratitude for his wife and their kids at every turn. 

A good portion of his show is about his wife and kids, which is relatively new subject matter for male comedians, though "the wife" has of course been the butt of comedian's sexist jokes since the beginning of comedy, the kind of 'comedy' that adorns this charming black-painted van that has parked itself outside our house for the last two weeks as if trying to tell me something. My husband's not responsible for it, but some other lucky woman's husband/ex clearly is, as it's definitely the work of someone with a (very small) penis, and as such I am sorely tempted to spray paint over the opening 'you' and replace it with 'women'. But I can't be arsed with trolls.

Apparently this sort of cheap sexist comedy is still going strong for some. It's got a long pedigree of course. I remember Billy Connolly's joke about how a guy killed and buried his wife face-down in the garage with her bum sticking out so he would have somewhere to park his bike. He told that joke on Aspell near the start of his career, so I guess it worked for him then. Perhaps not today so much.

His later comedy, after he'd been happily married and a father for a number of years, was rather less sexist, and perhaps the comedy industry grew up a bit with him.

Gaffigan is considered a 'clean' comedian, unlike Connolly and most other male comedians, largely because he doesn't swear or tell jokes about killing women. But 'clean' is hardly an adjective any kind of artist would seek out or welcome as it suggests playing things safe and going with the mainstream,  which is not at all what Gaffigan does.

Rather than clean, I would say that Gaffigan is a clever comedian who knows that there is a place for swearing and on stage is not always it, though I have heard some very clever female comics make good use of various S, M, F and C words. But women swearing well tends to challenge stereotypes in a way that men swearing doesn't, and challenging narrow assumptions about groups of people is surely something that comedy and all art should do.

As far as the man-woman thing goes, Gaffigan, who writes with his wife, seems to get, better than most, that the best comedy is made from making fun of yourself first, those people who take themselves a little too seriously second, and third, those people who fuck up life for the rest of us (eg Trump voters and the van artist on our street), even if he is not what you would call a political comedian, although non-sexism from a male comic is fairly political.

Anyway, go see him if you get the chance, he's heading to Melbourne tomorrow.

I've been writing this on and off practically all day while trying not to take myself too seriously eating deep brown eggs, walking through water, partaking in family gatherings, speaking long distance to my mother and son, etc. So it is time to end it now (food is on its way).

I leave you with an image of the awesome eggs that my good man gave me today for Easter, which, apart from anything else, suggests to me that he, for one humble husband, does not wish he were dead. And thank fuck (and Jesus) for that!