Monday, February 25, 2008


Slaving away on weekends, the girls and I have little opportunity to speak. The only sounds bouncing off the walls of the office are mouse clicks, keyboard licks, the occasional phone calls and the whir of the airconditioning . The other day, on a rare exchange of casual, even fun talk, the girls articulated something that had been dancing on the outskirts of conscious thought. Yes, Aussie men are hot. Yes (many) Aussie men are sexist. I have said before how men here seem to be caricatures of manhood, and the women their polar opposite.

I have never had an "asexual" conversation with an Australian man. And by this I mean a conversation where I wasn't acutely aware that I was not a man, that I was a woman and all that that implies. I remember the countless conversations I have had over the years with my Filipino guy friends and how I had grown used to exchanges where we were simply human beings. Obviously there are the characteristic sexual dynamics involved when men share time with women, but there in the dynamics are woven egalitarian undertones. Speaking with my Filipino male peers, I have never felt excluded. Speaking with Filipino male elders I have never felt patronised.

Here, in this little patch of Aussie soil, men tend to band together to the exclusion of women. They call it mateship. I call it homosocial.

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