Clouds In The Head

Check With Her, boys
15 May, 2009, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Nobody Loves A Thinker

I read this blog and many of the comments about the Four Corners report from last Monday, the dire behaviour of those guys and some of the consequences and responses.

It’s from Sam de Brito’s blog on Sydney Morning Herald. I rather admire Sam (and briefly worked with him on Water Rats) for his honesty and ease.

I crafted this contribution but by the time I tried to send it, they weren’t taking any more contributions. I liked this enough to stick it in Clouds In The Head. Probably best you read Sam’s blog first, unless you feel like you’re across the issue already.

It seems to me that the issue of consent is very grey in here – in part from “Clare’s” recollections and Four Corners not filling in every detail. To give the footie players the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume they thought that there was some form of consent. Let’s also assume – since they don’t seem to have spent much time talking to “Clare” – that they had doubts in the back of their minds.

It’s pretty clear that the woman was objectified, that resting their dicks on her face for example is abusive and bullying behaviour (I’ve got memories of the year 10s at boarding school bullying younger kids by eg putting their dicks on a younger lad’s shoulder in front of all their mates). The Four Corners transcript paints a pretty vivid picture.

And it’s clear that there are some women who relish the wilder aspects of sex with sportsmen – I’m sure there are a few who would give their consent readily to a gang bang. Problem is, they aren’t necessarily the norm, nor even a desirable model for the guys to have in their heads, but you could see how guys might get that idea. Especially guys who aren’t that hot at chatting up girls or getting to know women…

For me, though, it’s about the culture of abusive sexual activity in the League. The Four Corners report probed that culture very precisely. It’s there. It’s not at the heart of the code but it’s not exactly on the edges either (how many “group events” do we reckon the average League player might get the chance to participate in a year?). It’s also not isolated from the wider culture we all participate in. And it’s something that everyone should acknowledge is in there, and that continuing efforts need to be made against. Same as with bullying in schools or the workplace, the price of non-bullying is eternal vigilance, year after year.

Finally, how do you move on?

Well, Mattie Johns may not have been captain but he was a leader – some of these men have to assume some leadership.

There have to be serious opportunities to meet women in non-sexual ways – do a bloody cooking course or something (I’m serious).

The code has to keep awareness high – yes group sex is obviously potentially very erotic and powerful and team-building, but if you let go of your dick for a sec and take a step back you’ll have to ask if the woman really wants it. You don’t ask after it’s all over, you stop and ask at the start, you stay aware whenever the situation might change, and you ask her in the middle. You give her a chance to speak. To be a human. To be real. And if she’s pissed as a newt, you ask yourself whether you’re such a big successful star as all that after all.

That should be the new Code of the Code: Check With Her. She’s human too.


animations from Create 08
12 May, 2009, 1:49 pm
Filed under: beauty & inspirationalitism

A couple of people asked me what happened to the animation class I was teaching at the Gresford Create 08 festival. Here it is in all its gloire. Some of the films are much more polished than others, which is no reflection on any individuals as they were all done in cobbled-together groups, and the ideal would have been for everyone to come back the next week and talk about the results and make another one. But for me, even the really raw ones are interesting, especially with the right music (the last one works great with heavy metal, for example).

The kids got a DVD (computer only) and a set of instructions as to how to make an animation at home using Windows Movie Maker.

Hope you enjoy these. Well done, kids!

Tomes For Terl
8 May, 2009, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Nobody Loves A Thinker

My sister-in-law is starting a writing course and as I’m staying at her place for a couple of days I’m keen to get her a gift, perhaps something that might be a good influence on her writing, something inspirational and helpful and not useless. The idea that I could provide her with any or all of these things and then talk about it in my blog is the rankest egotism, of course. But I am very attached to my own opinion – who isn’t? it’s mine, isn’t it? – so what the hell? Fortunately no one reads my blog anyway.

I’ve already loaned her a David Sedaris, and am also loaning her The Lovely Bones and Kindling Does For Firewood. Both are books chocka with honesty and verve. Richard King’s book is terribly funny, like my sister-in-law.

The prose I love most is that muscular American prose of Updike’s Couples and Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways. Those are my blissful stylists: not sure they’d be a good influence, mind.

My absolute two favourite books of all time, and probably even worse influences, are Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely and Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury. (Marquez says he suffered under the influences of Joyce and Faulkner for too long.) I remember reading the first three pages of the Faulkner and telling a friend: “I think it’s going to turn out to be the greatest book ever written,” in that early 20s Significant Way young men think. As for the Chandler, the next time anything like it happened in American letters it was Blue Velvet.

(I told you I like my own opinion.)

Beyond those novels, there are smaller, bite-size creatures – there are some pages in Kathy Acker’s Blood & Guts In High School that are the essence of human agony; the funniest thing I ever read was the Alan Coren piece that begins “Today I swallowed the little house”; Dickens has a running gag in Pickwick Papers that has never been bettered. Red Harvest dragged the detective novel to its logical conclusion.

So what do I buy her? And which would help? And who do I think I’m fooling?

(In the end I managed to find her Blue Highways, after looking through I think it was eight bookshops. Not exactly Chick Lit but not exactly evil either.)

Footnote: I wrote a whole piece around the word “hoick”, only I spelt it wrong. I left out the C.

Mea Ulpa.