Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday in a Feminist Wasteland....

So this post is going to be somewhat self reflective, that's ok, that's what Mondays are all about. Mondays and Live Journal but I can't keep up with 2 blogs at once...

The day started off well, I was pleased at the guardian for featuring this story as their front page lead.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,2247987,00.html

It's about the whiteness and maleness and richness ( or at least upper middle classness) of these high court judges. They also gave me a free mug. It was looking like it was going to be a good day.

I took my paper and got a coffee in the DHT cafeteria, putting my coat beside me on the floor. There was plenty of floor space, it was not blocking anything, nonetheless some old guy comes up and stands by me - staring at the coat.
"Is that how you treat your clothes?" he says, in the same way you might talk to a particularly immature 12 year old. I mumble something about it falling off the chair - he says " Well there is a chair there" and walks off.
I spend the rest of the time between my lecture fuming, what a jerk ! I'm 21 and have been wrecking my clothes with wild abandon for years, I buy them with money I earn(or borrow), I bear the consequences. I thought of all the things I should have said to him like ' Yes it is, is that how you think you can speak to people?' even just 'Bog Off' would have better than my wimpered submission. It put me in a cross mood for most of the morning.

Now obviously I cannot prove that this man felt as though he could talk to me like a child because I am younger than him, or because I am a woman. One of the frustrating aspects of Feminism is though some things you can prove, some of the other little opressions like old curly haired jerk (he never told me his name so it will have to be Curly - the big old jerk) are difficult because it is so easy to just reduce them to individual experiences. Take this to its natural conclusion and social problems cease to exist.

In the afternoon I had an English Literature tutorial on T.S Eliot, who I dislike (what can I say, old white dead/nearly dead men not in my good books). I dislike him because he is one of these elitist conservative old dead white men who we waste far too much time on in Literature. Bits of The Wasteland are ok, and I don't even mind the love song of J Alfred Prufrock, but I detest his essay 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'.



If you are not familiar with it I shall sum it up here - poets are a part of a glorious history of white male writers from Europe who are so much part of our heritage,that they live in the present. A good poet is not really connected to his work (women aren't poets obviously, neither are people from anywhere other than Europe) poems are these objective entities to be interpreted in themselves. Poets are cataylists who transform this glorious white male european tradition into something new/objective.

Read it if you want, I think it's dumb. As if poems aren't written with any intent, as if writers live in a vacuum. We were asked at the beginning of the tutorial what we thought and I said that I thought it was horrible crap, because it basically asserts the importance and dominance of rich white men over literature, and the whole concept of poets being seperate from poems is pathetic nonsense.

Some conservative guy stuck up for Eliot throughout, and I argued my point. When he said he thought Eliot was good I asked why. It turned out, in that instance, I had misheard, he was saying that he thought the girl who was presenting was good ( oops, me and my big mouth!). It's ok it was all realised, it wasn't too embarressing - I did not appear to be a colossal bitch. It was a pretty good tutorial really, we went into the politics of the canon, there was debate (me and the mature student agreeing Eliot to be up his own arse, two Jack Willis clad guys from the south of England thinking perhaps we haven't given him a fair go)

Anyway my main point here is that on my way out I was walking alongside the guy who I had disagreed with, and I said

'Didn't mean to come across so agressive in there'

What the?!! He jovially replied 'It was good! It's a shame we didn't get more time'
Why the hell did I say that?
'I am sorry for asserting my opinion'.
I know why I said it, he was next to me and I wanted to make some conversation because I didn't want to look like a bitch. It was then I realised how much we internalise these ideas about gender. All I had done was assert a valid point, it wasn't something I should have been apologising for.
Equally here we see the importance of language - heterosexual men don't get called bitches, and thus can assert themselves as much as thy like without thinking 'I hope they don't think I'm a bitch'.

What a loser! To top it off the German society have a poster of a woman's ample cleavage to advertise their event 'bodacious beer'. I had some stickers in my bag left over from a feminist network meeting. The best thing I could think of to write was 'This crap is why I'm a feminist' ( I thought about putting sexistisch but that might not mean what I think it does...). It felt good though.

If only I could find Curly - the big old jerk, I could put one on his back......



This is what I got when I typed 'Curly the big old jerk' into google images. Yeah ....you kiss my shoes Mr....

2 comments:

Janet Bennett said...

Wow, you really have a spectacular persecution complex.

Liz said...

So you say... care to elaborate? or do you just wish to give empty one line psuedo psycoalanlytic comments?