The suburbs are a cliche

October 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Heading home, again.  And of course, a flood of conflicting feelings re:  gender and the humanities.

I will try to explain.

Towards the end of my degree (an epic 14 year affair in which I studied in every arts department save psychology) I started to think: what the fuck did I do this for?  I will need some time to write about it properly, but basically it all seemed like this weird mash of progressive platitudes being used for exceedingly conservative purposes, bereft of an underlying logic.  I blame the evil sophistry of “postmodernism” for a lot of this, but also it is just the age-old problem of class and privilege, massive over-specialisation, possibly a bit of the Peter Principle, and my own personal temperament which can border on suicidal laziness.

But then I remember why I did it.

In the outer suburbs, where I grew up, I am basically a bloke.  It says a lot about traditional gender roles that the absence of a Y chromosome and external gonads make no difference here – the gender spectrum is unheard of in these parts of the world.  I have a host of “unfeminine” characteristics which I am now accustomed to going unnoticed, but which become a huge issue when I head home, where gender is the name of THE game, and I’m a bad girl.  A weird girl.  Not a girl. I don’t want to bitch about particulars, but this is an oppressive force which has influenced so much of my life, politics, and personal habits, such as the need to write.  It is why I was one of those first year kids who was in raptures over Foucault.  He helped me redefine girl, to work it out for myself with the power of my own intellect before I got into some kind of trouble.  It’s worth adding that none of the things I am talking about are actually all that weird:  things like reading books not magazines, wearing cargo pants not skirts because I walk or ride everywhere, leaving the house without makeup, not wearing much jewellery (it itches), being absent minded and thus slightly untidy, so on and so forth.  Pretty much all of the things I like about myself.

But that was a long time ago.  Foucault became what he hated, an incomprehensible libertarian who threw out the baby with the bathwater (though he’s still the only pomo I have time for, mainly because of Discipline and Punish), and I went and studied journalism, an even more baffling discipline where those most suited to the actual profession are probably doomed to fail academically.

Hey at least I wrote.


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