Julia and Tony are just fighting over the remote
TODAY is International Women’s Day. It was supposed to be tomorrow but the organisers changed their minds. Oh well, I suppose that’s their prerogative.
I’m going to be on shaky ground for the next 700 words, so may I start by saying that I think women are wonderful. Totally and utterly wonderful. And that wonderment is everywhere. Universal. Like a halo above their heads. Which is just as well because if they had to direct us to its precise location we’d never bloody find it.
Women would say that’s because we men can’t see things that are right in front of our eyes. While we men would suggest it’s because women have no sense of direction, unless they’re heading for the shops, in which case they have no trouble finding the most direct route, with perhaps a detour via the bank.
But that’s all petty gender stereotype, along with the age-old accusations that women are less gifted behind the wheel, overly emotional, prone to gossip by the water machine, can’t understand the offside rule… That sort of malarkey.
Women, on the other hand, might suggest men are incapable of multi-tasking (despite the fact that I wrote this while breathing), incapable of fixing something without involving the entire household, incapable of asking for directions when lost, and way too interested in the offside rule.
See what I mean? PETTY. The kind of cheap shots I would never lower myself to.
Or so I thought.
The other night, after putting the children to bed, I crept into the lounge room to find a life-threatening scenario. No, we weren’t taking in water during a storm. There wasn’t a small electrical fire in the kitchen. One of the overworked fans hadn’t detached from the ceiling, hovering like some frenzied Hitchcockian bird about to swoop at our throats.
No, it was much worse. A disaster of biblical proportions - my wife had the remote control.
Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t bother me, but there was cricket on. India v Australia from Hyderabad, where Australia were playing Hyper-bad. But that didn’t matter. I was keen to have a look. As a new-age male, however, I respected her right to browse elsewhere before realising that nothing compares to the infinitely fascinating sight of men swinging willow at leather.
But for some reason it was taking her far longer to realise this than I expected. In my distracted state I noticed a gecko on the window stalking a moth, patiently creeping up on it in preparation to pounce. I resisted the temptation to do likewise with the remote. That would have eaten up valuable seconds. And Australia were batting. Time was not on my side.
When my wife finally realised, amid gentle persuasion, that there was nothing on offer that compares to cricket, Australia were all out. I’d say they played like women but that would be as disrespectful as it would be inaccurate given that Australia’s women cricketers are world champions at the moment. Perhaps we should have asked them to stay behind in India and lend a hand.
The above anecdote from the marital sofa is of course nonsense. Every so often men and women squabble, and every so often they distil the source of those squabbles into patterns of behaviour based on gender. Harmless fun, if conducted in the right vein in an otherwise loving relationship.
The “fun” and the “harmless” both disappear, however, when rather than play out in suburban lounge rooms, petty gender squabbles play out in Parliament House. The feather in our cap of electing Australia’s first female Prime Minister has been overshadowed, some might say, by the macho way in which Tony Abbott has tried to relieve her of the remote control. But can you blame him for reminding everyone that she changed the channel when she’d promised not to?
Claims of sexism and misogyny marred Australian politics in 2012. Regardless of whether Tony Abbott was deserving of those labels, the current state of Australian politics does remind me of a long-time married couple trying to find the address of a dinner party in their car, in the dark, without a SatNav, her reading the map and him steering the car. Or vice-versa.
It’s a giant leap for man… err, humankind that Australia has a female Prime Minister. Has she been treated unfairly based on her gender, or fairly on her poor performance?
I’m not sure. I’ll decide in September. All I know is that Australian politics is in dire straits. It’s petty, uncivil and embarrassing. One of the reasons I returned to Australia was because I was tired of the corruption of Italian politics. I told everybody there how honourable and competent our politicians were here.
The current crop have made a liar of me. But all men are liars, if you believe in petty stereotype.
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