Bendigo Art Gallery: Giving the Metro Museums a Run for Their Money.

As past posts this week would indicate, I spent the weekend in Bendigo, in country Victoria. I visited some old friends, went secondhand book shopping, got my hair did, and attended the opening of the Bendigo Art Gallery’s American Dreams exhibition.

There were some stunning portraits by some of America’s most gifted and famous photographers, like Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and Richard Avedon.

While this exhibition isn’t the greatest I’ve seen (FYI, that was The Golden Age of Couture, also hosted by the Bendigo Art Gallery, which displayed gorgeous garments from the likes of Christian Dior and his 1940s “New Look”, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain), it is one in a long line of coups for the country gallery.

Last year I saw Frederick McCubbin’s Last Impressions and Looking for Faeries, in addition to 2009’s Golden Age of Couture, and this year the gallery has The White Wedding Dress display in store for us. But the exhibition I’m most looking forward to won’t be opening until 2012, but it’s well worth the wait: Grace Kelly—Style Icon, featuring costumes from her most famous films (Rear Window, I’m looking at you) and couture gowns from her reign as Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco.

With stellar exhibitions like these, Melbourne’s galleries and museums had better watch out!

Elsewhere: [Bendigo Art Gallery] Homepage.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] American Dreams: 20th Century Photography from George Eastman House.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] The Golden Age of Couture: Paris & London, 1947–1957.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] McCubbin Last Impressions: 1907–1917.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashions.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] Grace Kelly: Style Icon.

Related: Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

Loving… Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.

Gustave Moreau’s The Eternal Feminine Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Images via Bendigo Art Gallery, Ethical Style.

Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

So this review was originally going to be about Bendigo’s Book Mark, which still remains the best secondhand book store I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Such gems I’ve managed to find there are Mick Foley’s rare first novel, Tietam Brown, and a $7 copy of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. I scoured the shelves for over an hour looking for that one. When I took it to the counter, the man who served me marveled at it being left on the shelves; he’d put all Jackson-related literature on their website to be sold at an elevated price after his sudden death.

But perhaps my friend Hannah and I left it too late on a Saturday afternoon to visit the shop: they close at 4pm and we got there at 4:05!

So we decided instead to venture over to Book Now, located at 1 Farmers Lane, opposite Rosiland Park. There’s no denying I’ve gotten some good titles there before—a first edition of The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving springs to mind—but I find it a bit stuffy and overpriced for a secondhand book store.

However, this weekend’s trip yielded some fantastic finds for both me and Hannah. Hannah is studying to be a doctor in Russian history and social sciences, so she took home a book on Nicholas II of Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, parents of Anastasia of Russia, and Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I knew Book Now has a large collection of Joyce Carol Oates books, so I rummaged through them in the vain hope of finding My Sister, My Love, a recent novel based on the JonBenet Ramsey murder. And low and behold, I did find it resting on a shelf right up the back of the shop.

My Book Now trip was pretty much complete after that, however I did spot some Armistead Maupin titles, and picked up a few of those. (To be honest, I own so many of his books I wasn’t 100% sure that I don’t already own The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon. But at $6 a pop, who am I to complain if I do?!) Finally, I stumbled across Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and decided to add that to my ever-growing pile.

So what began as a somewhat disappointing afternoon when Book Mark wasn’t open, ended as a surprisingly great one, with four new additions to my bookshelf.

Bendigo only has a few really good bookstores, so if you’re ever up in Central Victoria, visiting the Bendigo Art Gallery (stay tuned for more this afternoon) or the Golden Dragon Chinese Museum, pop on over to Book Now or Book Mark.

I know I will on my next visit.

Elsewhere: [Book Now] Homepage.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.

Related: Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving Review.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Armistead Maupin in Conversation with Noni Hazlehurst.

Image via Book Now.

Pretty Girl Bullshit.

 

White Girl Problems is the latest Twitter phenomenon to sweep the pop culture world, with such gems as “Fine, if that’s the way you’re going to act, then you’re uninvited to my Elizabeth Taylor memorial cocktails” and “I’m sorry you think I’m being a bitch”; the passive-aggressive “apology” heard in relationships the world over.

While the Twitter profile is poignantly taking the piss out of the problems of the privileged, there is the issue of race there, also.

Like, why is it called White Girl Problems? Why not Privileged Girl Problems? Or Rich Girl Problems? But even with that, it would be feeding into the classism debate. Whichever way you look at it, White Girl Problems is a double entrendre of racism and classism.

It also highlights the body image battle a lot of young girls face, be they white, black, rich, poor, or whatever. Here are a couple of examples:

While I’m not personally offended by the Twitter feed (I am a white girl with [first world] problems, after all), I can understand why some might be.

Racialicious, actually writing about the Alexandra Wallace/“Asians in the Library” scandal, says that it all comes down to “white female privilege”, meaning “you can say more outrageous shit because you’re a pretty white lady”.

That may be so (I have been known to voice my opinion on all manner of topics that may be deemed controversial: the baptism of babies being bullshit, pretentious parenting, and abortion [more to come on that last one in coming weeks]), but how long have men—of all races but, yes, particularly Caucasian ones—been getting away with it? And still are. Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown are two names that spring to mind…

Related: First World Problems.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Elsewhere: [Twitter] White Girl Problems.

[Racialicious] Go After the Privilege, Not the Tits: Afterthoughts on Alexandra Wallace & White Female Privilege.

Images via TV.IGN, Anu News, Film Junk.

Magazines: Who Condemns Baby-Body Bullying…

 

… But when the celebs in question aren’t actually pregnant, it raises the skinny- vs. fat-shaming debate, and whether people in the public eye’s bodies should be public property, too.

Kudos to Nicole Richie, who has come out with this statement:

“To publicly point out a change in anyone’s body is mean-spirited and cruel.”

God knows Richie’s had her fair share of body-bashing in the media. You go, girl!

Khloe Kardashian is another celeb who’s wrestled with both her weight (being perceived as the “fat”, “ugly” sister in comparison to siblings Kim and Kourtney probably doesn’t help) and her struggle to get pregnant:

“The media makes me feel like I’m barren and why can’t you get pregnant? I am 26 years old… When it happens, it’s going to happen.”

American Idol winner Carrie Underwood goes on to say that, “When I wear something a little baggier, I’m like, nope, people are going to think I’m hiding something.”

I’d better stop going out in public in baggy jumpers and layered shirts, then! But thankfully, I’m not a celebrity whose body, actions and shopping list is scrutinised by all manner of media.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Who Says There Has To Be An “Ugly Sister”?

Magazines: Man Up.

“Manning up” seems to be a common theme on The Scarlett Woman this past week.

I don’t agree with the term, as it implies that simply being a man is equivalent to being courageous. Not to toot my own horn (okay, I am!), but I feel like I “man up” a whole hell of a lot more than most of my male friends. But it is a good descriptive phrase, along with “grow some balls” and “don’t be a pussy”, to which the same above critique applies.

Last weekend’s Sunday Life ran a story entitled “You’ve Got Males”, about the conundrum of raising males, which could be a good article if it wasn’t so sexist and traditional-man bashing.

Some such examples are:

“… Mum went through a feminist phase where the various pitfalls of male behaviour were outlined to me early and often, boot-camp style: think The Biggest Loser if they were trying to create metrosexuals instead of skinny people”—most feminists will tell you that it isn’t a phase; children should be allowed to grow in their own ways, whilst being gently guided by their caregivers.

“Such a boy thing to do” —what, exactly? Playing with trucks and being destructive? I have observed plenty of male children being more mellow, whilst girls go ahead and trash their cubbies after they’ve been lovingly tidied by moi (true story). It comes down to being an individual, not a stereotype. And at aged three, should we really be pushing stereotypes on our children?!

“Our first-born liked babychinos and was more artsy than fartsy. But our second boy was a full-blown bloke (‘Finally, a male in the family,’ said my wife)” —liking babychinos means your parents are pretentious, not that you’re going to grow up to be a SNAG. And what’s so wrong with that anyway?

The article also discusses the pack mentality of “groups of men behav[ing] in a more blokey fashion”, which was briefly touched on at the Wheeler Centre’s “The Sentimental Bloke” discussion, in the form of a solitary wine vs. group beers, and how to “deprogram” this.

Personally, I’m not a fan of “blokey behaviour” in the stereotypical sense, but nor to I agree with the parenting style—or typical Australian attitudes—this article attempts to push: that it’s one (bloke) or the other (SNAG), with no regard for the myriad of options in between, or what’s best for the individual child.

Related: Unfinished Business at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

“Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“The Fashion Industry’s Anorexia Problem.”

Gala Darling offers an interesting take on pageantry. It seems not all beauty queens are vapid glorified prom queens with “miles of hair extensions, industrial-sized cans of hairspray and gallons of butt glue”.

Do you have to be a mother to be empathetic?:

“The reason Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was able to handle the flood crisis with such competence [is because she is a mother], according to a fellow mum. How true, how true, clucked a host of TV talk show mums the next day, as the commentators all agree that Anna won the ‘image’ war over Julia in the aftermath. Then of course she would—only a mother can cry with conviction for lives lost.”

90210: “The Sexist Postcode”?:

“So 90210 was an important early building block of enlightened sexism because it insisted that the true, gratifying pleasures for girls, and their real source of power, came from consumerism, girliness, and the approval of guys…”

My friend Anthony and I were discussing the benefits of cheap Coles milk when we paused and though, what exactly does cheap milk mean for farmers and why all the fuss? Rick Morton of MamaMia is here to answer our questions.

Also at MamaMia, the defence force sex scandal.

Speaking of, MamaMia’s 3.0 launch is the only blog redesign I’ve liked in recent months (Jezebel, I’m looking at you).

“Wait? What? This is where it gets interesting for me as a sex positive parent. My son just went from wishing he was sexy to shaming a girl for being just that? I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to do some unpacking.” The unpacking the primary school backpack on “Slut-Shaming on the Playground”.

This is just plain wrong: “The 15 Most Inappropriate Baby Outfits”.

The cigarette packaging reform.

Michael Cole, WWE announcer, tweets a gay slur. GLAAD faux pas or staying in character?

Are disability jokes really that bad? Or are we all just going PC crazy? (Just ask Laura Money and Kieran Eaton at their Unfinished Business stand-up show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.)

The meaning of Sucker Punch according to io9:

“1. Insane people and sex workers are interchangeable.

“2. Women can only triumph over adversity in their dreams.

“3. Action movies spring from the imaginations of enslaved, mentally unstable prostitutes.”

“Do You Know What a Normal Female Body Looks Like Anymore?”

Francine Pascal as feminist literature pioneer?:

“In the beginning, that wasn’t enough for many booksellers, who deemed Sweet Valley too ‘commercial’ for their readers. The Times snubbed the series; librarians fought to keep their stacks free of the ‘skimpy-looking paperbacks,’ as one library journal put it. It was Pascal’s fans who defended her: buying a dizzying 250 million copies before the series published its 152nd and final title, in 2003. The series even became a case study in how to get young girls to read. ‘Sweet Valley changed the dynamics of the industry,’ says Barbara Marcus, who, as former president of Scholastic’s children’s business, published The Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps, and Harry Potter. Sweet Valley spawned seven spinoff series, a TV show, a board game, and dolls. Not until Twilight came along have girl fans been so loyal.”

In this vintage post from the time of Jersey Shore’s debut, Irin Carmon discusses the cast’s views “On Beauty & Not Even Looking Italian”. Quite interesting, actually.

It’s time to go, Betty Draper.

Forget menopause; say hello to “manopause”.

First the video music world, now the movie world: Rebecca Black’s film debut in “Sunday Comes Afterwards”.

Porn WikiLeaks: damaging the reputation and safety of porn performers by publishing addresses, personal documents and hateful HIV diatribes (SFW).

The ugly step sister?

Images via Jezebel.

“Cultural Talking Points”—How Does Jackie O’s “Bad Parenting” Relate to Hunting?

 

From “Jackie O, Michael Clarke & the Pillorying of Pretty People” by Erica Bartle on Girl with a Satchel:

“[Michael] Clarke and Jackie O are, whether they like it or not, cultural talking points, as much as gossip ones. Such stories, particularly with glamorous figureheads, can create a healthy discourse at the intersection where the private and public spheres collide…

“The Jackie O story, while no doubt horrifying for O herself, gives us an opportunity to talk about women’s issues: how career women are managing their family lives (or not), employer progressiveness (or lack thereof) with maternity and paternity leave (particularly in male-centric media organisations), the pressure to maintain ‘superwoman’ standards of living, grooming and working even after a baby is introduced into one’s life and the value placed on motherhood…

“To me, both Clarke and Jackie O are culturally symptomatic, rather than the cause. It is very important that we are able to critique the culture—to challenge the status quo—which is a media construct perpetuated repeatedly until it is the norm, while not laying blame on the individual for their behaviours…

I bet Andrew Frank, who wrote yesterday of his disgust at how the Wheeler Centre panel handled his hunting question at “The Sentimental Bloke” discussion, would agree with this statement, particularly the last part in bold. Perhaps panelist Dr. Anne Summers should give it a read…?

I personally don’t agree with hunting but, like panelist Craig Reucassel said the other night, as a meat eater my stance is slightly hypocritical.

And I can certainly see where Andrew is coming from; killing your own food diminishes the carbon footprint of meat production on the environment. As long as the kill is swift and made by a skilled hunter, like Andrew, perhaps hunting isn’t so bad…

But as the meaning I derived from Bartle’s statements asserts, don’t hate the player, hate the game. A viewpoint the sentimental blokes—and Summers—could do well to take up.

Related: “Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] Jackie O, Michael Clarke & the Pillorying of Pretty People.

Image via Girl with a Satchel.

Event: Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

I never thought a seemingly boring panel conversation about e-books versus hard copy print media would trump a discussion about masculinity in Australia, but it seems “The Evolution of the Bookshop” has come out on top when it comes to talks I’ve seen at the Wheeler Centre lately.

I’m a bit late reporting on this one, but a couple of weeks ago I attended “The Evolution of the Bookshop”, which entailed the panel of Michael Webster, Corrie Perkin, Jo Case and Chris Flynn, with Sally Heath as the facilitator.

The main item of contention on the agenda was the receivership of the REDgroup, which includes Borders and Angus & Robertson (for those of you living under a rock in recent months) and how online shopping from overseas stores, like Amazon and the Book Depository, may have contributed.

2010 was a good year for books in Australia, actually, as Webster, of RMIT and Nielson BookScan, pointed out in a riveting (no, I’m not kidding!) spreadsheet. There was no denying the large amount of Australian dollars that were spent online on books, what with parity and all that jazz, and the panel urged the audience to buy local throughout the night.

But when Flynn, fiction editor of The Australian Review of Books, compared the prices of all the books he bought over the course of a year at Borders (the devil’s bookstore, according to the panel!), Readings (of which Case is a staff member) and the Book Depository (there was over $1000 difference between online and at a bricks and mortar bookstore), it doesn’t bode well for physical bookstores.

Personally, I’m not in the financial bracket to be supporting local bookstores when I can get the books I want online for half the price at a click of a button.

Earlier this year, I went into Borders at Melbourne Central wanting to purchase Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments, The Great Gatsby and Sloane Crosley’s two books of essays (which you may remember me writing about here). They had none of them in store. An hour later I was at home on Amazon, $70 poorer but immeasurably happier that four brand new books were on their way to me.

Case made the case (haha!) for the experience of shopping at a bookstore, but Flynn countered with the presumption that people who shop online probably already belong to an online community, and thus their experience at an online bookstore is just as valid and important as at a physical one.

As the owner of her own bookshop, Perkin asserted that she just can’t compete with free shipping and the iPhone app Shazam, which allows users to record a piece of music, to which the app generates the full details of and where you can buy it online.

But independent bookstores compete on service, not price. Perkin relayed the example of running out of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals recipe book and being told that the next shipment wouldn’t be for awhile as it was, and is, a very popular title. She was forced to buy copies of the book on the Book Depository at her own expense, and provide them to her customers who had already committed to the title via pre-sale. Now that is service!

Flynn countered that whether we like it or not, e-readers have hijacked traditional forms of reading, but based on a show of hands, not one person at the Wheeler Centre that night owned or read books on an e-reader.

On a side note, I will be visiting the best second-hand bookstore I’ve ever been to over the weekend, and there’ll be more to come on that next week.

Related: “Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.

All Eyes on Marilyn.

Images via Crunch Gear, TS Bookshop, Lance Wiggs.

Event: “Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”—The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

I was so looking forward to “So Who the Bloody Hell Are We?: The Sentimental Bloke”, held on Monday night at the Wheeler Centre, which I attended with my staunchly feminist friend Laura (who has written for The Scarlett Woman here, and whom I’ve written abouthere) and staunchly MRA friend Andrew (who has also guest posted here and here).

I was rudely disappointed.

I expected the panel to delve into the masculinity crisis facing Australian men today by addressing such issues as rape culture in sport, domestic violence, metrosexuality and parenting. Well, three out of four ain’t bad.

I’m not the only one who felt that way, as Andrew Frank writes:

“I’ve got two words for you: Sarah Palin”—Dr. Anne Summers, AO.

I didn’t get it. Based on the participation rates of the laughter that followed, I don’t think half the audience did either.

Using a right wing American female politician to attempt to illustrate that there are no gender issues related to  men that hunt in contemporary Australia, only cultural ones, is using a form of logic that I can’t understand. But then again, she claims to be a feminist.

The setting was The Wheeler Centre, and the discussion loosely titled, “So Who the Bloody Hell Are We?: The Sentimental Bloke”. The presenter: Michael Cathcart. The panel was comprised of Craig Reucassel, founding editor of The Chaser newspaper and ABC television personality, Craig Sherborne, memoirist, poet and playwright, and Dr. Anne Summers AO, “best-selling author, journalist, and thought leader”. About that last one: I am worried.

Initially, the discussion promised to focus upon being a man, as individuals and as an ideal, in contemporary Australian society. This would include several aspects of particular relevance, such as parenting, the workplace, and various social settings. It would also examine the evolution of the ideals of masculinity, over the 20th century to the present. I was sadly disappointed.

After being egged on by Scarlett and Laura to “man up” [Early Bird note: I say that sarcastically; I strongly disagree with “man-up” as motivation to be courageous.], I decided to ask the question that plagued me from the start, and gets under my skin from time to time. My question went something like this:

“I am a very passionate hunter. I do it because I love it, not because I need to feel manlier. This is something for which I am socially criticized, in a manner that suggests I use it as a method of compensation for feelings of being emasculated. Do any of you perceive any distinction between the social pressures placed on men of decades past to be the stiff-upper-lipped, emotionally suppressed and distant figure, and the social pressures contemporary Australian men are subject to in terms of being ‘metrosexual’ or the ‘Sensitive New Age Guy’?”

I missed Sherborne’s reaction, but Reucassel mocked hunting as an activity for the royal family {unbeknownst to him, I also fence!). Dr Anne Summers, screwed up her face and said, “Between being a SNAG and hunting?” in as condescending a tone as you can imagine.

It was asked that the microphone be returned to me. Reucassel asked me how I started hunting. I replied that it came to me through my Dad, and my Dad’s Dad. I then turned my attention to Summers again and stated that the hunting’s relevance here rested in the fact that according to my friends, hunting and masculinity were, for the distant father figure, and are, now, according to my friends, inextricably intertwined. It is the quintessential example of men today not conforming to the metrosexual, SNAG criteria.

Reucassel then said that the idea of hunting abhors him; that It is definitely an antiquated recreation, but it takes bravery to pursue in light of contemporary attitudes and if I want to, then more power to me. I respect his viewpoint. I would never force someone to hunt who didn’t want to, and he reflects my right to be autonomous in deciding where I get my food. But he missed the vital issue: is there a difference between my social pressure not to hunt and the social pressure on men from decades past to be emotionally restrained?

Insert Summers’ initial right-winged impression here, to which I didn’t get another chance to respond.

Sarah Palin hunts. I think Summers was trying to say that dealing with the bad rap that being a hunter carries is not specifically a male problem. And in that single fact, she is correct. So therefore, the issue faced here by hunters is not gendered, but cultural. However, to go so far as to imply that because Palin hunts, the social criticism of male Australian hunters—or indeed other men who engage in traditionally masculine recreational activities—does not warrant discussion is a fallacy. I believe that is what she intended to say. And soon after it became apparent from the comments of Cathcart and Sherborne that they believed she had jumped on the “cultural, not gendered” tack as well. However, because I did not warrant a detailed response, evidenced in hindsight by her curt reply and insulting tone, we cannot be sure. Perhaps she meant to say that Palin is an idiot, and therefore, all hunters are. But I shall continue through with the interpretation that Laura helped me conclude.

If we accept the premise of Summers, any criticism of my masculinity with hunting as evidence is blatantly flawed. Speaking regarding men in contemporary society, Summers has decided that the social reality is… wrong? Because a number of women engage in hunting, including the prominent Palin, they must be subject to exactly the same social criticisms that the men who engage in this statistically dominated male activity, right? If we accept this, Summers did not respond to me, as she intended. She responded to those that undermine the masculinity of Australian male hunters. Undermining my “masculinity in the metrosexual sense” because I hunt is wrong because women hunt, too. Unfortunately for her, your average person that rips on a hunter seems unaware of the tradition that hunting is a male thing. By the way: I hate that tradition. I really, really do.

On that count, any person seeking a discourse regarding being a man in contemporary Australia rather than trying to fulfill a feminist agenda would disagree. It’s like saying because both men and women are in the police force they obviously have precisely the same experience—I would have loved to get her started on that one pertaining to rape cases. If the topic for the evening had been, “The Sentimental Bloke and the Empowered Woman: Being a Man, Or a Woman, in Contemporary Society”, then perhaps it would have been a valid vein of thought. But could anyone really think that her premise was not flimsy and tenuous? She, too, missed the point: attempting to discern the differences and similarities of social pressure on males not to hunt and the social pressure on men from decades past to be emotionally restrained.

Discussion that followed pigeonholed me into the “shooter” stereotype as if I wasn’t even there. I won’t forget for a long time the sneer in her voice: “He’s a shooter”. I despise hoons that are hunters according to external perception, blazing through the bush with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other. Summers was perfectly willing to condemn me using a stereotype to which I do not conform. This after using a prominent female American politician, a single example, to attempt to nullify two gendered stereotypes and the resulting social pressures of two different eras that I wished to contrast. Yeah, that woman totally understood the topic for the evening. She is sooo smart! And yes, I’m bitter I didn’t get to verbally tear her to shreds.

The presenter, in my opinion, then made an awful mistake. Cathcart asked the panel, “Have any of you killed a mammal, and eaten it?” I think this was asked with the goal of illustrating the cultural differences between the contemporary and past societies in which hunters and men have existed. This wandered further still from the vital issue, as whether or not someone has killed an animal they have eaten and whether or not hunting is ethical does not address the relevant gendered issues. Reucassel said no, and then admitted to being a meat eater which, he realised, weakened his argument. Sherborne said yes, and told stories of how he grew up on a farm. Summers said no, and her admission to being a meat eater was accompanied with a bowed head.

In order to further display her tight grasp on the issues that were, but should not have been at hand, I remember Sherborne raising the following issue, when asked if he himself has ever hunted:

Sherborne: “Is fishing hunting?”

Summers: “No.”

Cathcart: “Why not?”

Summers: “I don’t know”

Cathcart ended that portion of the discussion with, “Well, I don’t know if we answered your question, but they certainly had fun ridiculing you”.

Subsequent audience questions referred to mine. They tried again to get at my “underlying question.” As far as I could tell, no such luck. My spirits were buoyed somewhat as I exited the room, as I heard the word hunting on the lips of four or five people, was complimented by a few others, and heard several chide the panel’s incorrect interpretation and inadequate response to my questioning. Walking down the street five minutes later I fortuitously heard an elderly couple discussing the exact same issue, and they could not have approved of my thoughts more.

Perhaps my motivation to have written all this down rests in the fact that I wanted answers—validation—and I didn’t get any. I am a hunter. I am also a kind, caring and sensitive man, who fully acknowledges the depths of his emotion wherever possible. I even have passing interests in skin care from time to time. The people on the stage were supposed to confirm my belief that pressures on me to be the latter (SNAG) are directly related to pressures not to be the former (strong, silent and conventionally “masculine”), and that the same situation with different polarities existed for men decades ago. Or, they were supposed to admonish this point of view, and provide me with enlightenment such that I could embrace my modern masculinity as the sensitive young man and the hunter with no sense of conflict.

But they didn’t. Aspects of life difficult for the contemporary sentimental bloke didn’t exist for every sentimental bloke. Consequently they were considered circumstantial and did not warrant discussion. Or difficulties that didn’t apply only for men, as women suffered similarly, meant that they did not warrant discussion. Or difficulties founded in culture were dealt with in a manner that suggested their gendered implications were irrelevant. Honestly, the only issue duly treated, was the evolution of male parents who now change nappies and push prams, juxtaposed against past male parents who would only pace outside the birthing room then work to support the child, occasionally throwing in a life lesson. Everything else was glossed over in a cursory fashion, played way, way down, or even straight out denied, suggesting that none of the panel members were prepared to really get their hands dirty and discuss issues that contemporary Australian men deal with in defining who and what we are. After all, even though the title of the event was “So Who the Bloody Hell Are We?: The Sentimental Bloke” it just wouldn’t be fair to deal with the impact issues have on men when they also effect women, would it?

Related: How to Make a Woman Fall in Love with You, Glee Style.

Double Standards.

On Stripping.

Unfinished Business at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Images via The Wheeler Centre, Indie Posted.

Magazines: Vo-Gaga.

Lady Gaga claims to be a misfit; the mother monster of the birth of a new race of misfits, according to “Born This Way”. So why is she on the cover of Vogue?:

“‘I want for people in the universe, my fans and otherwise, to essentially use me as an escape… I am the jester to the kingdom. I am the route out. I am the excuse to explore your identity. To be exactly who you are and to feel unafraid. To not judge yourself, to not hate yourself. Because, as funny as it is that I am on the cover of Vogue—and no one is laughing harder than I am—I was the girl in school who was most likely to walk down the hallway and get called a slut or a bitch or ugly or big nose or nerd or dyke. “Why are you in the chorus?”’ (She’s more Glee than Gary Glitter in some ways.)”

Or , “why did you wear a meat dress?”, for that matter.

“‘Ugh, the meat dress’… she rolls her eyes. ‘People just want to figure it out or explain it. The truth is, the mystery and the magic is my art. That is what I am good at. You are fascinated with precisely the thing that you are trying to analyze and undo.’”

Related: Who’s the Copycat Now, Katy Perry?

Image via Fabulous Buzz.