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I Love You, Let's Meet » I’ll take Kansas over Oz

I’ll take Kansas over Oz

reading this post and comments from the Sydney Herald, I was catapulted (boomeranged?) back to a trip I took to Australia in the 90s for two weeks with a fellow I didn’t know very well. He was quite nice, generous, and gracious; it was nice to travel with a native and not be a tourist.

We stayed with several couples, friends of his, on our journey north from Sydney to Brisbane and I noticed that the men were nice in general, but really nasty to their wives and girlfriends. They’d call them “cow” and “pig” and roll their eyes at anything they said. The joke was always how dumb or inept or otherwise inferior the birds were to the blokes. It was like being in The Honeymooners or some other ancient sitcom. I kept waiting for one of these smart, funny, appealing women to give the men some shit back. I’d look at them whenever these zingers were launched and they weren’t laughing along. They looked somewhat angry but more hurt.

But they never protested. The misogyny was internalized in a way that I see again in this comment thread — and the story itself, by a woman, that blithely calls “scary” and “twisted” and “makes their skin crawl” rather innocuous behaviors by women like asking someone out, trying to decode a date, or — horrors — being funny.

Toward the end of the trip, I asked my traveling companion, who didn’t know me well enough to slag me, but did join his mates in ridiculing their women, “Why do you all do that?” He seemed to genuinely not know what I was talking about and when I explained, he sputtered, “It’s just joking, they don’t mind.” I said, “Look at their faces next time they’re being ‘joked’ at — they do so mind.”

A remark I heard a lot on my trip was that Australia’s greatest export was feminists. I could see why they left. Consumer culture here is pretty misogynist and in some ways getting worse, but flying back, I was grateful for American men who from my limited travels to Australia and Europe, do seem the least sexist in the world. (I haven’t spent time in Scandanavia, which seems to get lots of other social/cultural/political stuff right, so perhaps that’s gender Valhalla.)

1 Comment so far

  1. Steve on November 30th, 2007


    but flying back, I was grateful for American men who from my limited travels to Australia and Europe, do seem the least sexist in the world. (I haven’t spent time in Scandanavia, which seems to get lots of other social/cultural/political stuff right, so perhaps that’s gender Valhalla.)

    I would not have expected a woman to think that American men are better in that way than European ( continental? ) men. I just have time image of Europeans as being very PC.

    I found your account how Australian men don’t even see their attitudes to be interesting. Though it isn’t as bed as the sexism or misogyny ( not always the same thing ) that American men have, I have noticed a myopia among American women in regards to some of their attitudes toward men.

    To put it crudely, I guess it is a human nature thing….everyone’s farts smells but your own.

    *Sigh* I’m ready for at least a Christmas truce in the battle of the sexes.

    The few Australian women I have met seemed to be very sweet. I guess now I know why