Back in my day…

My first thought this morning was along the lines of “What will I write about today”? This is very good. This is exactly what I want.

My next set of thoughts sifted through the various things I wanted to write about and I soon realised that most of them are not high-minded concepts I alluded to yesterday. In fact, I considered changing the name of this blog to “Shit I want to gripe about” – perhaps a better description. I thought about rap music (using the term “music” very loosely), reality television (I mean seriously – that’s entertainment?), and Australians who put Confederate flag bumper stickers on their car (so – you’re pro-slavery and wish to keep alive the memory of a conflict that killed around 750,000 people and destroyed so much? You’re an idiot – or perhaps you would write “Your an idiot”). Source

Thinking about these things, I quickly realised that I am being curmudgeonly, grumpy, and sounding more like some old geezer whining about “kids today”. Next thing, I’ll be uttering “back in my day”, “things were better in them days” and wittering about drinking water from a hose or other such rubbish.

Luxury.

I then realised a few things. I don’t care if I come across as a crosspatch (what a great word!), I just want to write and any subject is better than none. My high-minded ideals are irrelevant. I wanna just play with words, spill thoughts onto the page, tune my writing synapses, just write stuff! I also realised that my thought patterns were leading me towards something to write about – a persistent and annoying style of post that pops up frequently on my news-feed. The “back-in-my day” memes.

In particular, I want to disparage the “when I was 14 -then and now” style of meme like those below.

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This one is worse:

834134914_year_old_girls_then_vs_now

 

This really annoys me. It’s a prime example of rose-coloured glasses, selective memories and just pure bullshit. If I was to Google “14 year-old girls”, I would probably find a huge variation in kids and how they dress (as well as attract the attention of big-brother who might want me to explain my search habits). In fact, I just did that and I found a huge collection of selfies of girls who look… well.. normal! I’m sure if I kept scrolling and searching I could find one of a girl showing more skin that is probably age-appropriate but the first two screens or so are just… kids.

Get over yourself. I remember being a teen and having a keen eye for those girls who wore their school skirt with the higher-than-regulation hem. I remember girls who chose to wear clothing that was just as revealing as the choices made by girls today. I often thought that I would have preferred to attend a co-ed state high school: “bugger the education – have you seen those chicks?” I went to an all-boys school. No fun there at all. I also remember girls who, like my sister Catherine, wore the 80s big hair (prettier than Kylie – but much the same style), ripped stone-wash denims, and generally followed the fashions worn by her peers. These were her choices and I am glad she was able to make them. Others, like my sister Jackie, wore clothing that was more conservative. Such is her nature. and were also her choices – and as such were as valid as any made by her peers. I challenge you to walk through any area frequented by teens today – such as a shopping mall or a cinema complex – and I guarantee you will see much the same as you would have done “back in your day” – the full range from “Hmmm – I wouldn’t have the nerve to wear that” through to full-length cover-all clothing. The fabrics and styles may be different now but the choices are exactly the same.

Charlene

Ah Charlene, I hated “Neighbours” but you made me consider watching.

And this is what really pisses me off about this kind of meme. I don’t have a daughter but if I did, I would want her to be self-empowered and have the ability to make choices about her own clothing. My boys haven’t needed me to dress them since they were 5 or 6 years old – why should it be different for a girl? We talk about empowering women and trying to have full equality between genders and then it is mostly women who bitch about the choices made by other females! I don’t get this. If they make a choice, do you really have the right to say they are “wrong”? If they wear clothing which makes them feel good about themselves and about their bodies, then is that not their choice? If you say that they are “flaunting it”, or worse, “just asking for it”, then you are propagating a horrible, misogynistic point of view that essentially condones the myriad unspoken forms of subjugation inflicted on just over half the human population. You, and I, are entirely entitled to an opinion and a choice of which manner of dress is apropos to any given situation. However, it is merely your opinion. Never inflict your opinions upon others.

Yes, I am aware of the irony in the last statement – but you made a choice to read this blog….

I understand the reality of our society where many men think that it is acceptable to impinge on a woman’s personal space, make her feel unsafe or commit any form of sexual assault – and then use her manner of clothing as an excuse for his criminal behaviour. I know that this happens – I’m not a fool. However, it is an attitude that must be erased. It must change. It is no longer acceptable for male managers to slap the bottom of an attractive young secretary, pass comment on her breasts, or make crude innuendos in the break room. This has been progress in the right direction but it is only a start – it must extend out past a regulated workplace and into the streets and plazas frequented by men and women every day – and an important step forward is the destruction of the myth that somehow the clothing worn by a girl reflects badly on her character. Let her wear what she wants. Let her choose the clothing she wears and then feel safe in those choices.

Impertinent advances, while usually inflicted by men upon women, and not always confined to young women. I was subjected to improper sexual advances when I was a young man. I wasn’t even vaguely aware of it at the time but I did have a body-shape that attracted the attention of some women. I had thick, muscular thighs and a 32-34 inch waist so the trousers I wore tended to fit me rather snugly. In fact, I mostly wore trousers with a larger waistband so that my legs would fit – especially jeans. I also wore shirts with a loose fit about my wide shoulders and then tucked in at the waist. This, upon reflection, must have shown off my shape and increased the visual appeal – maybe working for me because it diverted attention away from my face. By the way, I was utterly oblivious to all this until I met Pauline. During this time, while I was at University, I worked at a bottle-shop attached to a Safeway supermarket. The woman who supervised the check-outs and all the young casual workers had a habit of firmly grabbing my arse when she came out to the drive-through to pick up the till-takings at the end of the shift. I never objected because frankly, I didn’t care. I just thought of her as a randy older woman. I saw her behaviour as harmless and a bit pathetic. In fact, her actions were the source of great amusement for my work-mates – all male. Should I have complained? Probably – but it never occurred to me. However, I don’t think that my indifferent reaction justifies the repeat of any such action. I am just musing about my own experience.

Macho Man

Me, age 23.

I was in Munich many years ago, sitting in “der englischer garten”, having a beer or two when two women jogged down the central path wearing nothing but running shoes and a smile. I won’t pretend that I didn’t look – they were both very fine specimens of the female form – but it never occurred to me that they were inviting anyone to assault them. Sure, I concede that they were showing off their wares and probably enjoying the exhibitionist nature of their activity, but even in that state of undress, it would not have been acceptable to grab one of them and rape her. How could it be?

In the interests of being utterly transparent, I also acknowledge that I will “check out” an attractive pretty girl I encounter on the street. I might admire her physical body-shape, her pretty smile, her startlingly blue eyes, or most commonly, I will smile to see her laughing and enjoying the company of her friends as she goes about her business. I sometimes feel guilty because I want to say to her that I think she looks beautiful. I never do as I don’t want her to feel unsafe and it would be inappropriate. I certainly never feel a compulsion to touch her, impinge on her personal space, or make a derogatory or judgemental remark about her appearance. I simply admire her beauty and proceed on my way. If I am with Pauline, I might make a quiet remark along the lines of “Nice!” and tilt my head towards the person who has grabbed my attention. In return, I usually get a smile. Pauline will often point out a woman who she feels I might visually appreciate – and marvel that I missed seeing her. In fact, she has used this trait to help her judge my mood. When I am depressed, very little interests me and she construes it as a warning sign if my eyes don’t follow the wiggle of a rounded bum walking in front of me. Pauline tells a story of a time we were travelling along the esplanade in Hervey Bay and she drove past a tall, blonde, strikingly attractive woman dressed only in a rather skimpy bikini. Apparently I didn’t even so much as glance in her direction. Pauline already knew I was feeling very depressed but at that point considered checking me for a pulse.

I am also greatly amused when I spot Pauline checking out some guy – usually tall, athletic, and with an aesthetically-shaped bum. (I still haven’t figured out that bit – I don’t quite “get” what shape a male bum must be to be deemed worthy of female attention. I have tried to understand – but they just look like arses to me.)

I have seen videos on the internet where an attractive woman walks down a street and an accomplice walks ahead of her with a hidden camera recording the reactions of males as she passes them by. I absolutely agree that she should not be subjected to unsolicited invitations of various intent nor lascivious remarks – either verbal or non-verbal. However, I do not see any harm in a guy quietly checking her out as she passes by – but these are included in the video as inappropriate behaviour. What do you think?

I’m off-topic. This will be a recurring theme in my blog. I do tend to let my attention wander. A lack of focus is, perhaps, a definitive aspect of my nature.

Put away those nostalgic filters and try to genuinely remember what life was like when you were young. My generation were perhaps the last “non-digital” generation. We didn’t have the internet, smart-phones, instant access to one another via social media, or the ability to take hundreds of selfies on our phone or ipad – or the ability to put these on Facebook (or perhaps Snapchat?). This doesn’t make us “better” – merely “different”. However, I don’t think that the nature of a child ever changes – no matter what filtered visions of our childhood we carry about in our memories.

A quote from Kenneth John Freeman in 1907 is often attributed to Plato or Socrates – but the point is that the sentiment expressed in this statement is ageless. It was said about us when we were young, about our parents generation many years ago, and so on back through time. It is said about our kids now and will, in turn be said by them about the next generation.

The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise. …

Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs.”

short-skirt-sign

Leave ‘em alone – let ‘em be. Work towards a future where women are not judged, verbally abused, molested, assaulted, or made to feel unsafe in any way because of her choice in the clothing she wears.This starts with respecting others right to choose.

 

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