Sexual Politics 2019

I sometimes look at young girls in their 20s, leading lives of unprecedented equality and freedom, and lament the fact they seem to know nothing of the fight their ancestors went through to win the freedom they now take almost for granted.

But in a way, that’s how it should be. True equality is unconscious. It doesn’t need to be measured or weighed or even valued – it is sucked in with mother’s milk and seems as natural as earth, air, fire and water.

Because women have had it pretty bad for all of human history – and still do in most cultures outside the first world. It’s only in the last hundred years or so that improvements have started happening and to give a clearer picture of exactly what I mean, let’s take a snapshot of the condition of women in England in the year 1800.

The class system was real and there was no welfare state. Very few people had the vote and those were only propertied white men with an annual income that would see them in the top few percent of earners. Women, even aristocratic women, had no right to vote and no right to own property once they were married.

Women of lesser degree, if not married to a man with an income, were forced into penury which very often meant prostitution.

Women had no control of their reproductive systems so life, for most, was a predictable series of events: limited education – marriage – several pregnancies (any of which could be fatal) – motherhood – grand-motherhood – death. That’s not to judge these institutions in any way but that was the extent of a woman’s lot, which didn’t change until the Married Women’s Property Act in 1870 – the first piece of legislation to recognise the (very limited) rights of women.

South Australia, New Zealand and eventually other jurisdictions gave women the vote over the next 60 years, but the true clincher – the biggest change in male/female relations since the dawn of time – was the contraceptive pill, which became legal in Australia in 1962.

For the first time, women had control of their bodies in a way men had always had – and had never had to think about. This led to profound societal changes over the next few generations, which nevertheless still carried the sexual political baggage of millennia.

Marriage, for example, is very much a pre-pill institution – a licence to create extra mouths to feed in a village of limited agrarian resources. We no longer live in that limited village and sex is no longer a deterministic path to pregnancy. But we still live with so much of the cultural debris from the glacier of human progress.

Marriage is an obvious one but there are plenty of more subtle indicators around the division of labour. Women (including those in professional work) still do more than their share of household chores. And watch what happens at just about any dinner party in the first world. It tends to be the women who get up to clear the table while the men sit around talking. This is not an absolute rule, but it tends to be true. And all those men being waited upon probably regard themselves as entirely reconstructed.

So, when you consider political rights, access to the professions, independent incomes and general opportunity to live as one would like, we’ve come a long way but we’re not quite there when it comes to real equality.

All of that is preliminary to what I really want to talk about.

In the wake of the Me Too movement there have been any number of developments that throw further spotlight onto the ongoing depredations of men with unequal bargaining power, but is the long overdue correction starting to go too far?

I read an article the other day about university research into the objectification of women and how they felt about it. Let me be clear – any sort of unwanted sexual attention is unpleasant, and if it continues, after non-encouragement, becomes creepy and ultimately criminal.

But where do we draw the line?

The continuity of the human race is utterly dependent on men and women continuing to be sexually attracted to each other. In a perfect world, people would only be attracted to people who reciprocated. But our world is far from perfect.

People are constantly attracted to others who do not reciprocate – and part of growing up is learning to deal with rejection. But rejection can only happen in the context of unilateral attraction, and how does attraction commence?

Through objectification.

For the point of argument, let’s limit the discussion to heterosexual people of childbearing age. It is (almost) axiomatic that these people are (at least initially) sexually attracted to others on the basis of their physical appearance.

It starts with objectification, which becomes subjectification only through experience and reciprocation.

Without objectification the race would die.

I would regard myself as more reconstructed than the average male chauvinist dinosaur. I fully appreciate the role of radical views in normalising the majority to socio-political evolution, but let’s not over-correct in the pursuit of equality.

If men and women are too scared to fancy each other, then that’s an end to us.

Let’s not overthink this.

White Line Fever

George Burgess was just given 9 weeks suspension in the NRL for a pretty ugly eye gouge.

I’m going to say that’s not enough.

His really nasty eye poke – which could so easily have cost Robbie Farah his sight in one eye – copped a measly 9 weeks, which seems suspiciously neat when you think he will be eligible to play in the finals, which Souths are all but certain to make.

And this is a guy with form in the eye-gouging arena! Why isn’t the NRL making an example of this idiot? Some might suggest my use of the word idiot is a tad harsh but the reality is – he was busted for eye-gouging only a few months ago in a test against New Zealand, and clearly he hasn’t learned from the sanction.

That, in my opinion, is the definition of an idiot.

Mind you, if there are bigger idiots, it is the NRL judiciary.

Do they not realise that they are setting the sanction bar for the entire league? The vast majority of players never get to strut their stuff on national television. The vast majority of players from under 6s through to All Age play their footballing lives in obscurity without the television cameras on hand to track their actions in minute detail.

That means they can get away with murder, and on the off-chance they get busted – they’re looking at maybe 9 weeks out after jeopardising some poor bastard’s eyesight. A life sentence against a 9 week holiday.

I’m saying Burgess, after two such incidents, should be rubbed out of the game – never to play again. Why should players with the rest of their lives to live – be subjected to George Burgess and his evil ocular tactics?

Why should children be risking permanent injury due to George Burgess’s example?

Why should obscure players in Group 7 or Group 15 be exposed to life-shattering injury so that George Burgess can be rewarded with the (likely) prospect of finals football in 2019?

The even bigger question is this…

What exactly happens to footballers when they cross the white line?

I include myself in this question. I’m a pacifist and lawyer in my 50s – still playing O45s football. I’m totally opposed to violence and I’ve thrown only one punch in my adult life (which missed), and that was on the football field, the week my first wife announced she was leaving.

Mind you, throwing a punch at someone (who totally deserved it) is a lot different from gouging the eyes of some helpless bastard with his arms pinned. Just putting my own evil in context…

Still, when people cross the white line, they change. Violent acts they would never dream of in polite society become acceptable, even normative, in a sporting contest. This has happened even to me so, while I am disgusted with George Burgess’s actions, I am not entirely unsympathetic to the fact that brains change in accordance with context.

A mate of mine is in the army commandos and I have occasionally asked him about what it’s like going into action. This is a fellow who leads a comparatively normal life in Australian civil society, but on several occasions has been asked to go into unbelievable peril on behalf of our politicians and their geo-commercial masters.

This takes one hell of a brain change – dealing with life/death problems every second of every day for several months. And how do they re-adjust when they’re back home?

Is it any wonder that so many veterans are dealing with PTSD and other complications when they are so constantly transitioning between observing the speeding laws, and some cunt trying to kill them?

But I digress…

To get back to the NRL judiciary, you got it wrong guys. Robbie Farah could’ve lost an eye because George Burgess was trying to win a sleazy advantage for his team in a game that would otherwise have been forgotten.

The fact that George Burgess will likely play finals football this year is just wrong.