At a time of intense debate about sexism in public life, with extravagant praise and condemnation of Julia Gillard’s attack on Tony Abbott still reverberating in our ears, I began wondering what could be done about it.
Even the most cursory glance at Federal politics over the past few weeks will make you realise that in certain spheres, we have a very long way to go indeed.
Sure, it’d be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and achieve gender balance in public life, it really would. But even a world that was created by a woman and literally has magic wands, that of Harry Potter, has been accused of sexism.
So clearly it’s a complex problem.
We men have had our chance to make way, after decades of feminism, and I think it's reasonable to conclude that we simply aren't willing to do that. So, I began to wonder, perhaps it's time we men started getting a taste of our own medicine? In the spirit of the scientists from the Manhattan Project who leaked the US' atomic bomb designs to the USSR, here are some tricks from the male playbook that you might like to use against the men in your life. Because there are two ways to achieve equality: either one side is lifted up, or the other is dragged down. So, let the dragging commence!
Talk about our sexual attractiveness
The hotness or otherwise of women has always been a question of public debate, even when they’re just trying to put on a comedy show. Women might want to start making, for instance, comments about the “f**kability” of male newsreaders, like the former head of Nine News, John Westacott, infamously did. And hey – women might also like to comment freely on the sexual attractiveness of Westacott himself.
Thanks to Ryan Gosling, this process has already begun.
(Warning - the title of the website I just linked to contains a swear word. But it also contains Ryan Gosling.)
Make inappropriate personal comments
As Germaine Greer has helpfully reminded us with her comments about Julia Gillard's posterior, there's nothing like a few biting personal comments to unfairly undermine somebody. All women need to do is isolate the things that men aren’t happy about with our bodies. Let me offer a few suggestions. Firstly, we are incredibly sensitive about losing our hair (trust me, Advanced Hair aren't raking it in because of our overwhelming respect for Warnie.) So women might like to use terms like "chrome-dome", Captain Baldie", "ol’ shiny-head" and “you there with the reflective scalp”, just to use some of the phrases that have been hurled at me already today by my own subconscious.
We blokes are also extremely sensitive about our weight. While we have used our control of Hollywood to try to pretend that morbidly obese men are jolly, nothing could be further from the truth. So go on, slug us in the gut about our guts.
This is a subtler technique. There are men out there, such as Neil Strauss who wrote the pick-up artist exposé The Game, who have taken this to an advanced level through “negging”.
That’s a technique where you make a backhanded compliment designed to undermine your target and make her seek your approval by having sex with you. Bizarrely, it apparently works.
(Speaking of Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone negs him rather well in Crazy Stupid Love where she says that his body looks Photoshopped – that is, amazing, but ultimately fake.)
Negging lines to use on guys might include “That’s a lovely tie, did your mum choose it for you” and “Hey you remind me of a famous Hollywood actor. I think it’s Danny de Vito.”
See what I just did there? I made a mean joke about Danny de Vito’s appearance. Turning men upon ourselves, Greer-style, could be another effective technique.
Finally, another thing you might like to do in the service of degrading men is make mean jokes about male genitalia’s resemblance to miscellanous shellfish. But be warned that you may end up having to resign as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Take over the media
As many people have commented in the aftermath of Alan Jones’ comments about Julia Gillard’s father, talkback radio is a highly male-dominated field. (I should note that I am part of this problem.) Women have enormous audience power, and if a large proportion of women in major capital markets chose only to listen to female announcers, radio stations would be forced to introduce them.
Then perhaps we would get a female Alan Jones who could accuse men of "destroying the joint". Given the state of the planet and that men have dominated global politics for much of human history, it would be a more reasonable accusation, unless you think the fellas in power are doing a bang-up job with the economy and environment. Plus, I think Kyle’s really holding Jackie O back.
Initiate a vast global conspiracy.
I’ve often wondered what would happen if women used the fact that, statistically, there are ever so slightly more of them to exercise power. Women could, for instance, set up a huge global favouritism network – let’s call it, for argument’s sake, the "matriarchy". It could subtly affect everything from job interviews to TV ratings to election results, like a female-only version of the Stonecutters.
It wouldn’t be a programme of deliberately excluding men, of course. It's just that women might tend to find women more reliable, because they went to school with them, and prefer socialising with them anyway, and so of course they naturally gravitate towards them.
Besides, men’s natural place is at home anyway. They are clearly more suited to staying at home and playing with the children, because as we always hear, men mature more slowly than women. Who are the people who spend their adulthood fixating on inane sporting contests and obsessing about breasts which are, of course, primarily designed for feeding infants? Men.
Of course, an alternative approach would be for men and women to join together in removing the barriers and building a better society. But that seems too much like hard work, and you know that we men generally aren’t up for that.