Friday, January 06, 2012

There's something about Germaine

I wrote the following around 2006 I think. It's undated in one of my notebooks.

"Ultimately I like Germaine cause she's like me. She's a self-labelled anarchist, she doesn't follow the rules. I don't know that she's ever professed to be so highly-principled that she self-censors to make sure she never contradicts herself, or behaves hypocritically.

She is a mass of impulses and reactions. Aren't we all? I know I am.

Friends have been surprised to know I read trash magazines*, when they label me so "intelligent" or "intellectual."

I like to wear make up. I like to wax my pudenda.** Sometimes I leave my armpits hairy. Sometimes I love giving blow jobs. Sometimes I just can't be fucked.

Watch the BB clip of Germaine. She is girlish, childlike but, I believe, completely natural. She is who she is. Shouldn't we all be a bit more like her?

Everyone's so goddamned self censored. People don't say what they think, don't say what they mean. I'm reminded of a European girl who pointed out a difference between Australians and the French years ago. The context was being offered a lift in a car. While I said about ten times 'are you sure it's ok?' she said 'a European would just say 'thanks.' it's the same when Australians leave social events. We have to announce it, then say a few more times (with intervals of about 5 mins) 'I'm going to go' and dither on before we actually leave. Once my ex got pissed off with me when I made the announcement about going and he stood up immediately, whereas I was going to sit for another 20 mins. It's something about not wanting to seem abrupt but really, it is a farce.

I'm going crazy having to watch what I say all the time. People don't like strong, outspoken women. People want us to stay in our place. People, maybe, don't like strong, outspoken people."

* this was a stage, I don't any more.

** this was also a stage, I don't any more.


Alex said...

I know you've told me a couple of times that I'm way too analytical, and this post reminds me that sometimes I feel like a bit of a grumbly troll; because usually I'm disagreeing with you to some degree or another about some little thing or another. But you've also said that you love the long comments, so I'm also hopeful that you're as much into debating this stuff as I am


Self-censoring. I don't know how much of this was Greer specific, but what I think you're talking about covers a few different issues in my mind.

1) Social convention vs politeness:

I've known a few people who didn't announce they were leaving and it often gave rise to scenarios such as:

"Where's such-and-such?"
"I don't know. They were talking about being tired, maybe they went for a lay-down. Check the bedrooms."
"Nope. Did they leave? Are they coming back?"
"Don't know. They're always leaving without saying anything. It's so annoying."


"I wish such-and-such would hurry up in the toilet, I'm busting."
"Oh, they left ages ago. The toilet's empty."

Alex said...

2) Being thoughtless and selfish vs making yourself an example of elite ethical wankerism:

It's true that I have a bug up my arse about fashion. I hate the idea of people painting their faces and waxing their pubes when they do it because it's the done thing that all your mates do because it's so rebellious because everyone famous is doing it because some fucking industry wants it to be the social standard; but on the other hand, if you begrudge people making informed decisions about what they do with their bodies, or deny yourself things that you really want as a statement of defiance, then I think you're in danger of becoming the thing you hate.

Trashy magazines is a harder one for me because I can see the day coming when trash-media completely replaces good journalism and every dollar spent or mouse clicked on "Jen's new jugs: a surgical horror story" and "Who is Pipa's arse cheating on now" brings us closer to that day. It's a bit like the recreational drug takers I know who defend their actions as being victimless without ever considering that their money goes towards funding drug-cartels, corruption and organised crime. Spend a few hours looking through news stories about Los Zetas in Mexico and you'll want to headbutt the next person you see pull out cocaine at a party.

It's tough, because no matter how good you are you're always going to leave some sort of negative imprint on the world. And, while I don't think it's right to use that as an excuse to not give a shit about anything, you don't want to become a preachy, annoying, sanctimonious twat either. Whether or not you count that as self-censorship, I don't know.

Alex said...

3) When I personally find self-censorship a problem:

Basically in any discussion about sensitive issues like discrimination. When I was growing up, bigotry was everywhere. It was so ingrained in people and communities that nobody even recognised it. Of course, I wasn't magically immune to it, and I didn't come to my current values overnight. It took time and education. I think this experience has made it easier for me to deal with bigoted views in general. However, since moving to the city, I've often come across people of the other extreme who completely vex me; people whose sole agenda when tackling these things seems to be to wait for someone to say something questionable and then shut discussion down by launching into a rant that basically equates to "Aha, you have proven yourself to be a bigot! You are evil and beyond redemption and have thus forfeited your right to any further contribution! Shut up! I win!"

I think this kind of approach is counter-productive for two reasons. a) It has no effect on actual bigots and b) It makes anyone in the middle avoid being honest about their thoughts and feelings out of fear of being attacked and permanently labelled a monster. You can't win people over to your point of view if they're afraid to engage honestly. Instead, they self-censor. They um and ah and say things that they don't believe and that are often meaningless; the issues don't get tackled, the problems don't get solved and everyone's time gets wasted. Which is a shame, because they're often problems worth solving.


People don't like strong, outspoken women. People want us to stay in our place. People, maybe, don't like strong, outspoken people.

My take is that people don't like strong, outspoken people who disagree with them. It makes their lives harder and more complicated.


You're an anarchist? Really? You don't mean in the political sense, do you? Because, wow, that's something I never would have pegged you for.

Alex said...

Yes, me again. Thought you might like to take a look at this. I haven't read it yet, but it's short, so if it turns out to be bollocks, nothing lost, right?

Melbourne Girl said...

Hey Alex always love your comments.

1) I wasn't saying don't say you're leaving. Just don't say it ten times (which is what I think people tend to do in this country.) And I don't mean ten times to ten different people. Say it's a small group of people sitting around, there's an announcement of intent to leave. Then nothing happens, then another comment like "I should get going." This can happen several more times. I'm including myself in this.

2) The self-censorship was what Germaine was obviously going on about and which triggered that comment. Re makeup, I more often don't wear it than do. But I think my comment was directed at the idea that some people have that you can't be a feminist if you wear makeup which is bullshit.

3)Trashy magazines. I think they served their purpose for me for a certain time, and I was always aware of how negatively they help you feel about yourself. But I don't read them now.

4) I don't think people like outspoken people even if they are in agreement. It's something about outspoken people sucking all the air.

5) I'm not an anarchist politically, of course not. I don't even know what the specific definition is. But I do tend to resent and push against authority and convention, if it doesn't suit me. Put it that way. And I'm a bit of a lone wolf, have always felt out of the group even when I'm in the group.

6) Are you suggesting we do a co-read on that? I'm happy to. Like I said, your choice.

Melbourne Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

1) I see. You were talking about the redundancy.

2) That's what I meant about becoming the thing you hate. If your brand of feminism is less about giving women equality and choice and more about redefining their boundaries, you've probably lost your way.

5) Ah, I see.

6) I wouldn't mind having someone to discuss it with (provided it doesn't turn out to be utter shit) but it obviously wouldn't be an adventure on the scale of 1q84. Would take a couple hours at most, I imagine.

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didemaydogan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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