Young Labour in the Dunedin North electorate have complained about National candidate Michael Woodhouse, who they describe as misogynist and sexist because he reportedly wrote in the student magazine “Critic”:
“I love spring around here, it’s bloody fantastic, the skirts were never this short in my day.”
First thing. Lets not pretend that most people do not enjoy most of us wearing less clothing in summer. I know I both wear less clothing, and enjoy seeing people out and about in the sun. Because I like seeing people’s bodies.
But second thing – enjoying beautiful bodies (whatever that means for you) – is of course heavily gendered. Women are very used to needing to think about the reactions we will get from the clothing we wear – because it happens to us all the time. From the men who watch your cleavage while you talk to them, to the men who grab your bum when you wear a skirt, to the men who deliberately rub against you in crowded places. And then there are the men who comment on how you look – at sports grounds, on the street, when you walk past a construction site.
I will repeat – this happens to women all the time – we have to think about how to be safe even when we want to celebrate our hot we are.
Too often, when women are “complimented” by men, it’s really more to do with putting us in our place – decoration and sex only, please – than anything else. That and a side order of bonding with other men in a way which proves how heterosexual you are. It is, to be blunt, about power.
So “enjoying” more flesh being available to look at, I think, is probably quite a difficult thing for men attracted to women who do not want to be oppressive to negotiate. To quote our own Flight of the Conchords:
She’s so flipping hot, she’s like a curry…I want to tell her how hot she is, but she’ll think I’m being sexist…she’s so hot she’s making me sexist…bitch
And therein, in the ironic aside of an ironic song, we have the enduring misogyny. Because all you men into women out there, if you can’t find a way to appreciate us without becoming “sexist” and then blaming us for it – well, I hate to tell you boys, but that’s your issue.
I don’t know anyone that doesn’t enjoy being found attractive – it’s all about how you communicate it.
Back to Michael Woodhouse. I don’t buy the partisan critique by Young Labour in Dunedin, but I do find it highly creepy that a 42-year-old with a wife is letching after student women – who will be as young as 17.
Why is it that paedophilia is a stoneable offence, but men talking about women young enough to be their daughters being sexy is kinda *nudge,nudge, wink, wink* phwoarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Who does Mr Woodhouse expect to impress with this comment in the student press?
Could it be – young straight men, gasp, horror – who, let’s face it, dominate a misogynist student media regularly filled with prostitution, rape and pornography jokes, which women students who complain are told cannot be changed because of commitments to “press freedom.”
Seems to me Mr Woodhouse knew his audience, and published in the right place. I’d love to see Young Labour men taking up the cause of a misogynist student press – and calling Mr Woodhouse on his Woody Allen tendencies in a more thoughtful way.