After a long and sweaty game of social persuasion, I reluctantly climbed into the highly polished four wheel drive that was packed with class two mothers, bound for a Christmas get together at the local Leagues Club.
I was horribly underdressed, under-coiffed and totally unprepared. I was the new girl. Not from around here……
“Did you see those terrible riots in Seattle? Those hippies should be locked up, it was disgraceful.” a nodding bob recruited.
I cleared my throat nervously from the back seat of the Nissan Patrol. These women were exactly strange to me.
Their clothes and hair reeked of positively-ionised white goods culture, and my blood began thinning and rolling in a slow, bubbling simmer.
“I know”, said another one, “they all need a bloody good hiding” she smugged.
“Those people ahhh, well, they actually represent you.” I said.
Dead silence. Seven blonde bobs turned to me. It wasn’t really a “blonde” thing, it was just their freshly applied holiday highlights glinting.
“Some of those marchers are farmers that are only being paid a few cents for a truck load of the crops that we have to pay twenty dollars a kilo to eat, and some of those people marching are the wives whose farms have been foreclosed on by the banks, people who now have nowhere to go, and some of those marching hippies are just people who want to have a say about how much we can really afford to spend on food, and some of those people marching are small businesses and family companies that have gone broke from multi-national takeovers and enterprise bargaining decisions that are made in WTO board rooms without consultation or care about us, you know, the consumers. Oh yeah, and some of those people marching really want to talk about the diminishing GMO regulations that might jeopardise world food crops everywhere….. Monsanto, y’know..?.”
Pause…………pause, pause, pause, pause……
“How’s Simon’s new tennis coach, isn’t he utterly hot?”
“Oh, well actually I’ve started playing comps on Tuesdays….”
I spent the rest of the evening staring into the laminated tabletop of the Arana Leagues Club dining room and continued to breathe in, and breathe out.
I’m a white, middle-aged, middle-class wife and mother, and those women looked at me as if I was on drugs, recently released from a psychiatric facility and recovering from a long stint within the criminal justice system and all I did was speak up that I think differently from the line they were taking.
Why is it weird to care about horses and forests and oceans and not give a toss about ironing or Tupperware? I don’t know how to launder towels with that fabric stuff that other women just seem to know about. Where did they learn it? Where the hell was I that day? Thank you, my life for letting me be somewhere else (something else, anything else…).
I know everyone’s talking. Their sales-pitched idioms rise in a radioactive steeple of unabated sound, fathomless with need and rampant sanctimony. How can one more human voice be heard, chortling and mashing in the pantheon of all these roaring souls, amassed so awkwardly among the philanthropic jaws of our tenuous and frail anxieties? In how many more complex ways can we say
“Give me your money”?
“Welcome to the Age of Aquarius, the virtual utopia,… take the philosopher’s megaphone. Speak now, or forever…….”
My anger is vast, a tidal expanse, infinitely intimate with the swirling mass of my raging pain and grief, I am, at long, long, last lucidly emerging from a supressed submission, to clear a mist from my mind, a potently hypnotic blue-blanket that has obscured my view of reality. As I stretch, I am reacquainted with socially parasitic complacency and it’s host, the ever-consuming white culture, an obesely subterranean world where the slumbering spirit of pioneering human determination did drown.
I am fiercely awake and haunted now, by all the eyes that ever trusted and were deceived… I have, it seems, willingly and for centuries, slavishly subscribed into a sanitised, Christianised, raped, broken, battered, burned, veiled, tormented, tortured, stifled and slain game of power-over.
Are we not culturally empowered to assist those that are hungry, helpless and hurt? Have we become spiritual husks, drugged by our own rarefied economic comfort zones and stupefied by our privileged social self-obsession? Surely the hoarding of so much wealth, the stockpiling of our multitudinous gifts and resources is literally choking us to death. Physically and figuratively. Certainly our fears have reached a critical mass.
How did our precious planetary resources become such weapons of greed and mass destruction? How has the glossy, fat, white westerner that I’ve become, been so willing to comply with the simplistic media politics that muster us endlessly into even more shallow superficiality? Why have we allowed ourselves to be motivated by self-servitude and low-range thinking? When did we agree to become a cattle of consumer-producing strategies that cost so many their lives, their freedom, their children and their basic human rights?
“Larry, I’m in desperate need of some chocolate”, (and I’m in desperate need to find my three children who were kidnapped two years ago to pick cocoa beans as slave labourers until they died of starvation, torture and disease).
Where are the compassionate, intelligent leaders of our next revolution for social change?
“I’m sorry ma’am, I can hardly recognise you since your rhinoplasty…”
Where does an unmarried, deaf woman in East Timor learn to give birth safely, or just live simply with dignity and self-sufficiency? How does an orphaned African baby with HIV overcome loneliness?
“Sir, where do we stack all the unclaimed, unidentifiable bodies sir?
How can we continue to support our so-called democracy when our elected leaders continue to condone and perpetuate such untold suffering? Surely we are gifted and blessed with the power to reach out and evolve, to unify in kindness now. Are we just-not-quite-yet-privileged and powerful enough in our white, male dominated cultural wasteland to end starvation, to stop pedophilia and child pornography, to eradicate nuclear arms trade, defy global thuggery or even begin to recognise the futile stupidity and horror of war?
Can we even see our own sightlessness? Our self-serving gluttony? Our emptiness, no matter how much money and luxury we accumulate? Who will acknowledge the toxic implications and look beyond the media distortion and it’s profit-driven party line? This is the time for humanity to rise and claim it’s right to express human goodness, to know our freedoms and exercise dignified choice. Now is the time to awaken from our silence, our ignorance, our backs turned on each other, our unending greed. We must stand up and own the mess we have made now.
Contemporary women’s culture? I look for signs and in my own hands I find borrowed icons from our destroyed indigenous cultures; drum, clap stick, feather & smudge. I read the propaganda of the new age “abundance” consciousness & I feel castrated from my truest visceral female instincts, the deep instincts of recognising and flowing with our natural life-cycles, the planting times, the nurturing way, the gathering and celebrating of harvest and the deep wintering to rest and dream.
We have become unreasonably demanding of our planet’s bounty. We have stolen our religious rituals from ancestors who stepped lightly upon the earth, respectfully honouring our earth and we have twisted her gifts until she has all but perished. I smell the stench of artifice from pharmaceutically-controlled advertising monopolies that profit in dictating the one acceptable human shape, age, colour, size and social choices, and I feel trapped and outnumbered by a hostile misogynistica. Nature is an explosion of diversity, and we have shrunk backwards into a fearful duality life. Chicken or Beef? It’s all the same crap.
I choose to spend some time with my exquisite ugliness and it’s child, the angry pain, to draw and paint it, to write it, sing it, drum it, dance it, wail it, wear it, share it, speak it and spear it into the hearts of all those still standing silently closed, quivering and gutless in infinite greed. I am afraid of the struggle, unnerved by the path I have set for myself and yet I know it to be a freedom path, a path of material challenge and contrary motion.
I know now, that I have always walked this path of difference. I was born to it.