Get off that bike young (and not so young) man. Don’t you know it’s got a broken wheel?
Last week I picked up two young women from a party in Surrey Hills around sunset. One of them was furious. When she got in the car she was literally spluttering with anger at privileged private school graduates and their limited capacity.
The limited capacity of the privileged being one of my favourite topics for letting off steam (by going five good rounds of mutual abuse and having a good laugh) with any and all passengers who express the need, it took a while to get to the actual issue. She’d been discussing a situation that occurred on social media and the boys had attempted to shut her down.
A young man sent disparaging and explicit sexual messages to a young woman with whom he had engaged in sex on a single occasion i.e. this was his response to their first sexual encounter. The messages were somewhat instructional and definitely debasing the girl to whom he sent them.
The texts were in the nature of what she should do to prepare for their next meeting and were explicit and derogatory in nature. My young friend was trying to explain to their social circle, of mainly young men, why it was not ok for him to tell her what to do with her “pussy” to prepare for his arrival, and why this young man had to be outed and ostracised.
The boys she was arguing with tried to shut her down. They tried to argue that publishing the texts on social media was unfair to this guy. If the texts were so bad, why did the subject have sex with the sender even after she had published them? They accused the recipient of being over sensitive.
Now this young woman, my passenger, wasn’t having any of it. She explained to them about power relationships and the social dynamics that stop especially young women, from directly opposing sexual harassment and abuse. She tried to explain to them that depending on how the young woman grew up she may not feel able to stand up for herself against an emotionally abusive, sexually aggressive boyfriend; which is why she needed support from their social group, not further denigration. This group of young men, attempting to shut her down, infuriated her instead, and she ended up leaving in my Uber, accompanied (thank the bejesus) by the other, less assertive, girl who was at the party.
I was impressed let me tell you!
I was mightily impressed to hear such articulate, sophisticated, modern feminist understanding, coming out of the mouth and brain of a young woman who understands the landscape at the age of nineteen. Refreshing? My word. Inspiring hope. Leading the conversation. Influencing another young woman to understand the intricacies of imbalance that run the social lives of women in this post modern era of still unwavering sexual oppression. And standing up to the boys, despite any possible outcome of social isolation.
Cut to yesterday.
Girl gets in car. We’re waiting to do a right hand turn into Chapel st from a side street and at 1pm there’s a surprising amount of traffic.
Middle aged man drives past slowly down Chapel st, cruising, in a bright red muscle Mustang. “Wow” I say “cruising Chapel at 1pm. That’s a bit desperate.”
“Chuckle yeh,” girl passenger replies. “But he’s an old guy so you gotta hand it to him,” by way of saying that this older, showy, desperado, who is no doubt cruising the recovery club scene in the middle of the day, is looking good for an old guy, with his brand new, bright red, Mustang, showing off his dollar appeal and letting his personal freak flag fly.
The girl was stupid, was my initial thought.
But you know, there’s those power dynamics spoken of by that savvy nineteen year old, describing perfectly why this kind of predatory dude is acceptable to such a young woman on her way to the beach, when anyone even half his age would laugh him off the street. Not that she’d actually give him what he wants. No?