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Gender Spread (page 13)

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A Mate, A Beer and A Revolution

Having read Gavan Sproule's article which appears on the previous page, I found that there was much to agree with. I felt, however, that one of the problems he highlighted could be resolved without a "total reinterpretation of what it is to be masculine". It's true to sat that men don't talk to each other in the sense of sharing emotions and feelings. I think two things stand in the way of this sharing, and the 'deeper' male friendships that are the eventual ideal: homophobia and competition.

The heterosexual male is confined in his interaction with other men by the fear of being labelled gay. The homophobia that generates this stigma is a throwback to our parents' generation and doesn't have to exist anymore. This attitude doesn't exist with close female friendships, of male friendships in some other cultures.

The second problem is the competition that is generated in most male conversations. Men feel at ease talking about things where they can be better that each other, rather than about emotions and feelings which can leave them feeling vulnerable. For men this is a viscous circle. If your mate has a problem then you might laugh at him and say he is weak and pathetic, but when you have a problem, who are you going to turn to? Men will usually decide to turn to women if they turn to anyone at all a partner, a mother or even close Platonic female friends, all of whom will listen better than male friends.

But men can solve this problem themselves, and a mate and a beer may be enough. The quiet introverted revolution that Mr Sproule is looking for could begin in the pubs and sports bars. It could be as simple as talking about a person or a problem instead of talking about a little thing like a football team or a beer. The way women communicate is what we can take from feminism. It seems that women discuss their problems and empathise, while men clam up on their feelings compete. Which is going to help you live longer and better?

Simon Freitag

"I need a beer." "I can't go out, the footy's on in ten minutes!" "oh shit, they're crying, what the hell do I say? What do I do? Hope the phone rings..."

Sound like stereotyped 'blokey' males? Well, maybe, but the shocking news is, women can think that too - outspokenly feminist, well-adjusted women, who aren't even trying to fit into the Uni pub scene. It just happens that way, sometimes.

OK, so this is a personal point of view, but it's damned annoying to have even the most egalitarian friend expecting you to sympathise because their maternal great-uncle's cat got run over. So? Deal with it, don't drag me into it. It's annoying when people assume that because you've got a womb, you're automatically going to join in serial hugging sessions, care about people you'll never meet or have pearls of wisdom to donate to the lovelorn.

The image of the butch, militant feminist is rarely applicable, but there is a middle ground between heartless and touchy-feely that is rarely acknowledged. I'm perfectly well-adjusted, thank you, but how does that imply that I wanted a relationship? Yep, guys, there are women out there who want the occasional, frequent or dangerously regular one-night stands. Or one-night smuts. Whatever.

If gender is to be eradicated and people are to emerge, out-dated, all-encompassing notions about lady-like behaviour need to be thrown out the window. I know men who related, hug and listen. I know women who swear and drink beer. And I'm sick of us being summarily thown into the abnormal bin.

Katie Slekowetz

Feminism and the Hive Mentality the debate continues

"One of the strengths that feminists should be using is the very diversity of the womyn that they are trying to include in their struggle." Anna Hepworth, Women's Officer, Pelican 1995, Issue 2

The diversity of women in society is something that the women's movement needs to address. Women are everywhere, oppressed and oppressors, stereotyped and stereotypical, defined and defining. To address this we need to ask the question, a women's movement for whom? As a radical feminist I am interested in creating a women's movement that combats oppression. But if it is in the interest of some women to oppress, then those women cannot be included in the struggle.

What do we mean by oppression? There are many forms of oppression; economic, social, and political oppression to name just a few. Certain structures and social mindsets actively oppress, and women are involved in those structures. Women can be homophobic, racist, sexist and exploitative. As a radical feminist I am not interested in creating 'safe' spaces for those women to express their views. We can combat them through education, but to create a struggle that includes those views works against the sort of radical feminism that some women are interested in.

Many women feel comfortable with terms such as 'liberal feminist' and 'femocrat' to describe women who subscribe to structures that oppress. Some feminists will openly describe themselves as liberal or conservative, and it is their hard-won political freedom which allows them to do that. But how far have we come in the struggle if we allow those views to go uncriticised? If the concept of sisterhood in the women's movement means that no women can be criticised then we are allowing women to oppress without challenge.

Margaret Thatcher, Bronwyn Bishop, Carmen Lawrence, Judith Watson and every other 'feminist' on the globe needs to be prepared to engage on the issue of their politics. To argue against criticism and debate is oppressive in nature because it is stopping the movement from going forward. We as women in the movement criticise the actions of men all the time. It is inherently sexist to protect women from the same criticism, just because they are women.

Radical feminism is not about fighting for someone's freedom simply because they have breasts. It is about fighting for the end of oppression that all those who are oppressed experiences. That oppression is being perpetrated by men and women, and is being experienced by men and women. To fight for the end of this oppression means fighting against the women who enforce it as well as the men.

This article is meant to spark debate, not stop it, and I don't suggest that any of the above is true at all, in any sense. If you are interested in discussing feminist issues, there is a Feminist Discussion Group open to all students that meets fortnightly on Monday nights. Ring 389 9054 for more details.

Keep on struggling! We are the only ones who can make a difference.

Elena Jefferies

SNAGs in bed

How would you define a SNAG (sensitive new age guy)? I have heard a number of differing opinions, most of them uncomplimentary. Comments about "wimps", "guys who don't like footy or beer", "any guy who isn't good in bed", and similar degrading attitudes.

There are also the comments along the lines of "it's a great way to pull more chicks". This only works if a guy never tries to smut two women in related social circles. After all, if guys have a reputation for discussing their sexual exploits with their mates, they have absolutely nothing on what most women actually do. A woman won't actually say something simple like "it was good" to her friends, she is more likely to give an exacting crit of the entire performance, with ratings for each aspect.

Any guy who is just there for his own pleasure is obviously not into the sensitive, snag, caring for his partner thing. This is, as any modern woman will tell you, a big mistake. There will be many, many women to have a giggle over his failings, and he will probably be incorrectly flattered when some woman says "Oh, yes, so-and-so told me all about you".

So what's my point? That in fact the true test of a SNAG is when you get him into bed. A guy who says "sure I like intercourse, but we never have the time, I'm too busy watching you enjoy yourself" after two hours is a great guy in my books. The one who is too busy enjoying himself, just biding his time through the required amount of foreplay, and who says "What can I do for you girl" is a waste of time.

Sure, a guy who is an arsehole elsewhere, but really considerate in bed is not likely to get my attention either. However, having had a lover who has actually fit my exacting standards, finding someone else is a bit of a problem. I could stick to virgins, they haven't got the impression from ex-partners that they seem to know what they are doing. But what I really want, it a real life SNAG who will be a lot of fun, and who I don't have to promise my soul to for the occasional bit of fun. After all, a SNAG shouldn't be in to the old attitudes of possession of partner, and should be able to handle the way I behave.

Anna Hepworth