On Tuesday Australia celebrates the festival of the spray tan, also known as Melbourne Cup Day. The entire country will be on a high over-bronzed alert as women walk around looking like they have been spattered with wooden deck stain from Bunnings. Our foreign minister has travelled far to be there, but cannot intervene when it comes to refugees suffering on Manus Island.
I won’t be baring my pale body on Tuesday, I’m not up for the scrutiny. As I watch my face age every morning in the mirror, I’ve been thinking about how my fellow middle-aged women are coping with wrinkles. And how they are so distracted by their ‘beauty’ regime that they don’t have time to call out human rights abusers.
Recently, I stumbled upon the Instagram page of a mother I used to know. Her face was stuck in a wind tunnel and her lips resembled a boxer who had been punched in the mouth, but she still looked like a female in her late 40s. They weren’t Halloween pictures. She reminded me of Nicole Kidman, the selfies showed me a featureless face, every emotion and expression the same. And I thought about a generation of little girls growing up with mothers whose faces cannot express empathy nor frown, and who all have trout pouts. They are being taught that this is the acceptable female beauty standard. Like foot binding and removing ribs in generations past. Mothers who spend more time and money in salons than on teaching their daughters to change the world. What do these girls think of the disconnect between their mothers’ words and the emotion their faces can’t convey? Do they worry when they see kids locked up in refugee camps and their mothers are too busy inhaling nail polish in salons that employ uneducated women from poor countries to care? Why do females show their sons and daughters that a wrinkle free face that doesn’t move is how women must age? Why are our looks are more important than the plight of our fellow humans?
And more and more women in their 20s have immovable faces and puffer fish lips. On my vast single mother budget I have lots of money for day spas, so occasionally I get my nails done or a facial at a student beauty clinic. Last week a woman doing my nails must have been in her early 20s but I couldn’t really tell. She could have been shocked by my visible wrinkles, as her face only showed that she was startled.
Am I jealous because I can’t afford to do this?
When I told my 15 year old that I was writing this she said,
“Mum, don’t be mean about this woman, even if she does have a frozen fish face. She already feels bad about herself, that’s why she’s done that to her body.”
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun,” said Katherine Hepburn.
This week I watched a pretty young gal take her clothes off on stage accompanied by a piece of ‘edgy’ music. She had great boobs and a tight little tush but since when did stripping, also called burlesque, become something to challenge society? It is not a subversive act to dress provocatively unless you have a brain and an opinion that matches your wardrobe. Call me old fashioned but I don’t believe that getting your tits out is an act of radical feminism, unless it’s coupled with the will to crush the patriarchy. We’re ravaging the environment in the name of money, women are dying from DV at the hands of their male partners and females still earn much less than their male counterparts; the male-power dominated world needs to change radically. I don’t see how a bit of T & A is going to change that. Please challenge me on this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Glamorous staying home mother duties with my kidlets means I’ve found more delightful feminist lyrics from modern music while trawling through the dark tunnels of the interwebs late at night:
You’re a discontented mother and a regimented wife
This song is addressed to a desperate mother who would like to trade her boring existence for the jet-setting hedonistic lifestyle the song’s narrator has led. Even though she has, “been to paradise,” she’s ultimately failed to find self-fulfillment, “I’ve never been to me.”
Because of course being a wife and mother is the only way a woman can be complete.
Paul McCartney wrote a lovely song about murder with a hammer, which John Lennon described as “more of Paul’s granny music.”
But when she turns her back on the boy
He creeps up from behind
Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer
Came down upon her head
Do do do do do
Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer
Made sure that she was dead
And it’s not just songs from the Paleolithic era that have life-affirming lyrics
Usher wrote a lovely song called I Don’t Mind
I’m just tryna cut her up, tryna bust a nut
Tryna take somebody bitch, turn her to a slut
Tryna fill my cup, tryna live it up
Throw some hundreds on that ass, walk her out the club
And also this delightful tune Ayo from the Australian visa-denied girlfriend basher himself Chris Brown
I’mma take her ass down when she bring her friend around
Fuck ‘em both like ayo
I’m a bougie ass nigga left the roof at home
We popping like ayo, ayo, ayo
But don’t be acting like I need you
Who is up for a feminist sing along?
On International Women’s Day I’m thinking that I’d love to be Emmeline Pankhurst in pearls fighting for equality for all women but I’m a little bit busy hanging out the washing and bringing home the bacon to feed three hungry mouths. So I’d like to say thank you to the ladies who are childless for maintaining the revolution so this mother of three daughters can raise them knowing that the sisterhood is striving to make our world fair. Whether you chose not to be a breeder, or you had the choice taken from you by fate or circumstance, I’m grateful for the work you’re doing. I believe childless women are desperately needed to fight for equality by us sleep deprived mothers who’ve temporarily lost our brain power because we’re helping finish homework. Thank you for organising the petitions, running the rallies, writing the articles, alerting me to them on Twitter and for keeping watch while this mother bakes. Sisters I will join you at the barricades as soon as I can find a cheap babysitter.
“Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid…”
What an insane year this has been, challenging, difficult, fabulous at times. Lots of kooky things happened in 2013. Apparently astrologically this can be blamed on something up Uranus
In February I lost my lovely friend (my favourite mother in law) and my children lost their favourite grandma in a terrible accident. She was a feisty feminist warrior, an artist and activist and we miss her
I took my munchkins overseas for the first time all together on a family holiday to visit my big brother and we loved it. We had a magical time; boat rides, 1000s of fish, gigantic snails, night markets, turtles, puffer fish, swimming, strange smells, diving, making new friends, eating fabulous Thai food and meeting the marvellous Sister Joan at Presentation Slums Mission in Bangkok. Life is about being with the people you love and telling them how special they are to you
I swam with fish in the Andaman Sea
I kissed a boy and I liked it
When I was MC for North Shore Relay for Life in March I took a bunch of local school kids up to the RNS Hospital cancer ward to sing for the adult patients. So beautiful and so sad. The questions from the kids in the lift on the way down were heartbreaking
I spent the winter writing comedy and workshopping my stuff with the fabulous Ciel. Then in September I had a fantastic time performing in three shows for the Sydney Fringe Festival including a show with my daughters and my solo stand up comedy show
I visited Tasmania for the first time and made great new friends and had a fabulous visit with an old friend. And I went to MONA in Hobart, what an art collection
I spent four days of madness and laughter with my Clown Doctor sisters and brothers and we giggled, played, danced and cheered each other up muchly
Australians got distracted by Twitter and stupid reality TV shows and forgot to hold their political leaders to account on environmental policies. Oops, there goes the Great Barrier Reef and our pristine wilderness
The entertaining children’s author Deborah Abela came to my daughters’ school and ignited a passion for reading in my youngest child. Thank you Deborah
My girls marched closer to adulthood as I learned to let go
The music of One Direction invaded my house like a wrecking ball
In Australia we had a federal election campaign that went on for 50 years (actually seven months but it felt like a gazillion times that). Australians voted against a vain PM and we ended up with Mr Misogynist refugee hater as our new prime minister
A magazine editor thought that a campaign featuring ladies not wearing any make up would empower women
I learned how to play more than three chords on my ukulele and sang funny songs with the beautiful families of very sick children in hospital
Damn, I forgot to marry for money
Around the world lots of crazy shiz went down:
In Britain there was scandal when the horse meat of the apocalypse was declared the national dish. Foal burger anyone?
Russians took a meteor shower
Mansplaining became the word du jour for more than a day
More women said ‘enough is enough I can’t go on’ (in the words of Barbra Streisand), and joined the fight for equal pay as feminists the world over marched closer to the imaginary land of Equality
In the US everyone stood near the fiscal cliff and peered over. Except the billionaires who were too busy raping and pillaging the country
In the Philippines a huge storm killed thousands and wiped out entire villages. MSF and many other charities restored our faith in human nature
Saudi women got behind the wheel and showed that women can drive too
Wendy Davis filibustered her way into feminist history
A celebrity flashed her undies, bought new boobs, had a baby, married her best friend’s personal trainer after stealing him from his fiancee, they got divorced after two days, she adopted seven children from a yak herder in Mongolia and released a perfume line featuring photos of the children in various states of undress (I think). This received more media coverage than unimportant issues like the death of the great Nelson Mandela
Madiba passed away at the age of 95 and the whole world mourned because we have too few visionary leaders and too many greedy narcissists in positions of power
Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 16th birthday with an inspirational speech, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back”
All in all a wonderful year of chaos
I’ve come to this pop culture party very late, but I want to weigh in on the debate about what is wrong with Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball mini fillum. It sucks. And not because she’s writhing around licking a hammer, although that is wrong because she’s not at a hardware store. No, it’s because it’s all been done. To death. At the risk of sounding like an old ‘back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Madonna got her boobs out for the 24th time’ fart, it’s tired. I’m from the if you’ve seen one pair of boobs you’ve seen ’em all school of feminism so I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Miley’s naked body, but Miley’s clip is creepy.
Old, balding tosser dribbles over young girl and tells her the storyline for her clip is provocative, original and daring. My flesh crawled when I googled the man’s name. He is 48 and a know pervert according to Doctor Wikipedia. Women 40 + are used to this kind of boring; male directors who don’t think they have to push their female star to actually act or perform or take us on an emotional journey because she is pretty, this style of ‘directing’ has been around as long as film (watch Rose Byrne in Two Hands or Angelina Jolie in most of her movies if you don’t believe me). No Miley, as cute as you are, flashing flesh is not enough, I want a storyline too. Copying Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares To You video and faking the tears shames you as an actor, and the fact that a director’s cut exists says it all. I think you’ve been manipulated by a wanker who thinks he’s an artist. And that is very sad.
Today is International Women’s Day. Today we celebrate women like brave, bold Malala, the 15 year old Pakistani schoolgirl who took on the Taliban to ensure that all girls in her country have the right to an education. She is the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in history and the same age as my eldest daughter. One day my daughters won’t need a day reserved for them because women will have equal rights all over the world.