I have bumped into this node more than once and always leave feeling more than a little cheated by “witty” reductions of womankind, written by men who fall back on tired stereotypes and worn out one liners. I certainly have my own opinions about women and I could fill volumes about what I have learned as a result of being one, but I was steered in the direction of a wonderful book, Cunt, by Inga Musico which sums it all up.

Women are blue-black as the ocean’s deepest knowledge, creamy-white ‘n lacy blue veined, freshly ground cinnamon brown. Women are Christian motorcycle dykes, militantly hetero Muslim theological scholars, Jewish-Chinese bisexual macrobiotic ballerinas. Chippewa shawwomen who fuck not just lovers, but Time and Silence too.

Women are drug addicts, anti-abortion activists and volunteers for Meals-On-Wheels. Women have AIDS, big fancy houses, post traumatic stress disorder and cockroach-infested hovels. Women are rockstars, Whores, mothers, lawyers, taxidermists, welders, supermodels, scientists, belly dancers, cops, filmmakers, athletes and nurses.

There are not many things which unite all women. I have found the word “cunt”, the word and the anatomical jewel, to be a venerable ally in my war against my own oppression. Besides global subjugation, our cunts are the only common denominator I can think of that all women irrefutably share.

We are divided from the word.
We are divided from the anatomical jewel.
I seek reconciliation.

We have profound thoughts, good brains, dreams, fabulously intricate inner workings, the power of creation and artistic talents. We are your mother, sister, girlfriend, best friend, worst enemy. We are not merely tits and ass and pussy tight pussy, though we have these things and admit they are FUCKIN’ WONDERFUL. Erections are nice and everything, but just because you get one doesn’t mean it’s a woman’s duty to hop on. We are tired of saying, “Oh, when I mean male aggression, I don’t mean you dear, you have never said a mean thing or objectified me in any way, I mean other men who raped me/hit me/made me feel like a walking fuck hole just because I have a nice place where a dick could go”. The worst offenders know who they are and seem to be the most likely to ask for exemption. The guys who do not participate in objectifying women also know who they are, and are the ones most likely to get really good sex, full time friendship and fantastic conversation with women. These are the guys who make nice lovers/husbands/boyfriends, and there are many of them.

But still...

We don’t sit around all damn day thinking about dicks and make-up.

Thanks moJoe, for making my point!

If you took the time to go ahead and hop on over to men, you'd see that you are hardly the only gender being targeted by idiotic stereotypes. The saddest thing about the ones in male nodes is that generally, they are written by men. You do the math; I shouldn't have to explain why that is tragic.

I also think that using the word "cunt" in that take-the-power-back-and-reclaim-the-words-that-the-man-uses-to-oppress-us sort of way only serves to alienate would-be supporters of such sentiments. Not to mention that, besides their lovely genitalia, all women also have a mind, which one would think women seeking equality would be a tad more eager to point out (apparently not). Unfortunately, the human mind doesn't have an edgy slang word associated with it yet and thus, it holds little value while dishing out shocking diatribes about the ol' "gash that will never heal".

I would also like to point out how blatantly ignorant it is to assume that only men guilty of abuse and sexism are eager to clear their names while the innocent can content themselves with getting laid a lot and knowing that they are neat fellows, whore.

(Please note that I only call you a whore because I know that, if you are not in fact a whore, being called one shouldn't bother you in the slightest.)

I trust that I have made my point.

. . .

You had a point? I thought that you were going about being generalized due to your genital orientation, while in the same breath lamenting about the burden of having to give explainations while doing it yourself.

I saw a great comic by Michael Leunig.

It was a parade of placarded women marching.

the first cell had a woman with the placard:

All Men are Bastards

the second had a woman with:

We Will Fight for equality until

and the third ....

All women are bastards too!

I hope that it never happens ( not the equality bit but the bastards bit)

Incidentally, Michael Leunig has a relation (sister I think) who also writes comics.

Women by Charles Bukowski

"Many a good man has been put under the bridge by a woman" Henry Chinaski

Women follows on from Charles Bukowski's earlier, largely auto-biographical, works of American low life; Post Office and Factotum. This book however, shows a slightly different Charles Bukowski (alias Henry Chinaski) as his old age is increasing together with his notoriety, and more importantly for him, his amount of female conquests goes into overkill. The one thing that strikes the reader at first is the rawness of Bukowski; his unconventional views of women, the way he treats his women - sometimes bad, sometimes good - but always in the same style: truthful and honest.

As with Post Office and later Factotum, Chinaski lived life on the fringes of society, crawling from one menial job to another, fighting with his bosses, drinking constantly, getting underpaid and being treated like dirt. Women sees Chinaski with money, an important step in any alcoholic lifestyle. With money he can drink fine wines, sleep till noon, and generally do as he pleases. He is only ever constrained by women - their arrival and their departure. He regularly meets women fans at the airport who adore his books and poetry. Swearing and obscenities are not rare in this book, the light hearted and politically correct members of our society should take note here, as this book is not for them. One woman sent a picture of herself showing her "cunt", as Bukowski described it. Females, it seems, literally throw themselves at Chinaski who is old, ugly, and has a "disgusting penis". Although he manages to get it everywhere. Casanova would be proud of Chinaski.

This book will make the sane laugh and the insane laugh harder. At times, Chinaski comes across as very amusing, describing, for instance, a sex scene with a an under-age betty boop lookalike, although she insists she is over 18 by validating herself with her id at every alcohol beverage stop. He insists it will be "child rape" if he had sex with her, and moreover he would "split her in half" if the act took place, until finally the act does happen but it is him who gets raped (well, in a way).

Beyond the depths of Chinaski's bedroom, there does lie a deeper level of thought - a deeper meaning. You just have to find it. Throughtout the book he is having an inner struggle with himself; he cannot resist the female temptation, they adore him, he lives it like a rockstar - drinking all night, arguing and falling out with girlfriends, finding another the next day, and so on. But this life is not really for him, the world has changed around him but he is the same person. He has become an established writer with money, he's no longer working for a dog biscuit factory and the girls just love his poetry and readings. He's a fat bellied, red faced ugly old man, who can't believe his luck, and about time too according to Chinaski.

Although the writing does not match the standard traditional literary ideals, Bukowski is nevertheless a distinguished writer. His books are easy to read, the plots fairly simple, the tone almost always exciting and page turning. Women is an rollercoaster ride into a alcohol induced fairy tale of a man lost in a world he hates. Some say, he is beatnik, I disagree and say Bukowski is a one and only, he does not easily fit into any subjective, or for that matter, objective category. He is on his own. Read Bukowski, live Bukowski, drink Bukowski.


Women, Charles Bukowski , Virgin Books 1978


short story, by the instantiator

The professor had been a genius in his day - that nobody could deny. All the great minds in human history were a little eccentric, I reminded myself as I puzzled over our strange interview, but something rang alarmingly true about what he had said. There were things to do. I decided I wasn't going home tonight ...

The professor had been late. We were supposed to be talking about my grant. As will become clear to you, no doubt, the subject of our conversation didn't even brush close to student grants and the consequences of their frivolous misuse.

His heavily lined eyes gave away his exhaustion. I asked if he'd slept well. He admitted, in his thick Russian accent, to several late nights, and then began rummaging through his desk. With his face in a lower drawer, and only his back visible, he asked with some concern, "You don't have a girlfriend, do you?"

I was a little taken aback, as you can imagine. Before I could reply, with a little "Ah ha!" of triumph, the professor pulled a little black book out of his drawer, plonked it on the desk, ruffled his way to a point midway through, and proceeded to scribble line after line in his untidy handwriting with the pencil stub laying on his desk.

"I have to hide it from the cleaning lady, you see." He mumbled at me, clearly too absorbed in his work to form his words properly.

My mind finally finished considering his original question, and I replied quite bluntly, "As it happens, professor, I am engaged to be married."

His response was quite disturbing. It took a second for the meaning to sink in, confused as it was by competing with his scribbling. He jumped and made a startled cry.

Then he put what remained of his pencil down and glared at me.
"You're quite sure?"

"Why yes, professor." I couldn't see where this was heading.

"And do you do the laundry or does she?"

And it dawned on me that I was dealing with one of those people.
"Now Professor, look here! I don't see what this has to do with ..."

He cut me off.
"It has everything to do with everything. Now listen, this is important." And then came the most fantastic tale I have ever heard.

"You know my department. We teach basic physics and a little electronics. Nothing exciting, nothing dangerous, and nothing important. Until now." I noted the weight he'd put on the word dangerous with curiosity. I didn't get a chance to ask him about it. He plunged on.

"We've got a few of those GPS things knocking around the lab for the first year electronics to play around with."

What the professor was referring to was the Global Positioning System. Very handy it was too. By the miracle of satellite technology, one of the little handhelds could tell you your longitude and latitude accurate to about 10m. This is all very well, but I was having trouble linking any of this to what he was saying before. He changed course again.

"I'm married, you know."

I nodded politely, wondering whether of not he was going to share some deadly pearls of wisdom with me. Instead, he told me more of his marriage.

"It's quite a nice arrangement." He said. "Or, well, it was ... she would do the housework, and encourage me in my research; I would go out every day and work for her - for us. Or so I thought. But now things have changed, and I can never go back."

At that precise moment, his secretary knocked on the frosted glass of the door, and opened it enough to push her pretty face around it.

"Professor, your wife's on the phone."

"I'm in an interview, can't you see that?" the professor snapped.

"Sorry professor." She popped her head back and closed the door. He began to tremble.

"That's the third time she's called. I think she suspects." He confided with a glance at the door; implying, I assumed correctly, his wife.

That just about convinced me. "Professor, if you're having an affair, I don't want to hear about it. I'm not a shrink or a councillor, you know."

He looked at me.

"Perhaps you do not understand me. I adore my wife. This is the problem. I shall pull myself together, and explain." He did just that.

"You see, as do most of my comrades in my field, I suffer from a lack of mindfullness. On one particular afternoon, I had placed my GPS in my trouser pocket during a lecture so that students might observe my motions around the building later. Of course, I quite forgot about it."

"That night, when I arrived home, I decided it was time my poor trousers took a washing, and I placed them in the wash basket."

"The next day at work I noted with concern that I could not find the aforementioned GPS unit. I ransacked the department and, if I remember correctly, made some very serious allegations. Of course it didn't make an appearance until a good week later, when I came across my trousers again."

This, I decided, had to some kind of eccentric joke. The story seemed to be going nowhere, and taking forever doing so.

"It came to work with me, and I decided to make the best of it, and use the data it had accumulated, cutting out the boring bit where, for a week, it did nothing."

"I had a scan through the results, and I can tell you I was very suprised with what I found."

He raised his eyebrows, as if challenging me to ask him what he found. I opened my mouth to form the question, and he cut across me, excitedly.

"It had disappeared!"

"I beg your pardon professor?"

"It had disppeared! For about three minutes around eleven o'clock that night, while I was in bed, the GPS receiver noted that it could not locate itself by any known Earth satellite. Previously it had been in the wash basket; but after the blip, it relocated itself ... in my wardrobe! I was so concerned I called the military to see if they'd had a hiccough. Of course, they handed me from department to department, and they all seemed to think it was some kind of joke - but there had been no problems."

I considered this for a moment, and we sat in silence. "So where was it professor?"

"I have no idea. But consider the problem. My wife most certainly did not take my trousers and put them in the washing machine, yet they were fresh and clean when I put them on."

The chilling implications of his hitherto odd behaviour began, slowly, to dawn on me. And then my imagination decided it would assist me.

"Professor ... " I aksed, "is your case an exception?"

His face was drawn into a frown.
"I sincerely hope so."

"And what if it's not?"

"Then we are dealing with the single greatest unknown quantity mankind has ever faced."

"So what do we do professor?"

"We need more information. We need to know who they are, what they're up to, and ..." this chilled me the most "... where they come from. All of them."

'Daddy, daddy, you bastard...'

Leila approached me yesterday at lunchtime to inform me that she was worried about her report from the last course. She is by far the most conscientious and linguistically talented of all the students I teach, and has won golden opinions from teachers for her talent and from fellow students for being a kind and considerate colleague. As my report was a glittering encomium that was no more than her due, I was puzzled. She had ignored every glowing comment in praise of her manifold scholarly virtues, and was exercised chiefly over the fact that she was down as having only 98% attendance, and two lates. Since she was the last in a queue of students querying this and that minute detail of their reports and attempting to bargain with me to whack up their grades, I felt mildly peeved that she was ignoring that thoroughly deserved praise. The Libyan embassy, in so far as it is capable of formulating a coherent policy, requires only 80% attendance of its sponsored students, which seems to me to allow a perfectly reasonable amount of wiggle room. I pointed this out.

‘No, no,’ Leila said. ‘You don’t understand. If my father saw this, he’d kill me.’ There was no flicker of a smile to indicate that she was using the cliché with its usual hyperbole. I’m not suggesting that it was a genuine fear, of course, but she did look very worried. If she were fifteen I might not have been surprised, but she is slightly more than twice that age. Why should her father even get to see her report, let alone comment on it?

This is naïf of me, of course. A month or two ago, another Libyan lady told me that her father and brothers have refused to speak to her since she decided to come to England to study for a PhD without first seeking their permission, thereby bringing disgrace on them. She lives alone in a foreign country, does she not, with no man to protect her honour, so the conclusion one must inevitably draw is that she’s a rampant nympho who bangs like a shit-house door and has escaped to England to indulge her lust with the kuffar. Stands to reason, man, innit, yeah? Leila’s father probably requires documentary evidence that she isn’t whoring around in this sink of iniquity, at least during the hours of daylight, so instead of suggesting she tell him plainly where he gets off, I went to the office and had the offending figures altered. They were probably in error anyway, as Leila was always in class before me on the days I taught the group, sitting there looking serious and slightly anxious. That’s often how you recognise the conscientious students – they wear worried frowns.

Lena is a friend from Cyprus who lived from the age of seven to twenty-odd with her parents in Sydney. One evening she went alone to listen to a talk organized by the university there. In her absence, her father did a bit of research and ascertained that the building where the talk was held was opposite a brothel. He blew a gasket. On her return, he subjected her to an interrogation about the layout and appointments of the university building; whose portrait hung at the top of the staircase, did one turn left or right at the top of the stairs to get to the ladies, that sort of thing, because otherwise he could not be entirely satisfied that she hadn’t been out to earn a bit of pocket money by turning a few tricks. Later, she lived in Athens with a man to whom she was not married, and preparing for her father’s visits from Cyprus - announced last minute, presumably in an attempt to catch her out - would entail chucking her boyfriend out of the flat and hiding every item of male clothing.

‘Why the hell do you do it?’ I’d ask. ‘Why don’t you tell him you’re thirty-four and who you live with is none of his bloody business?’

‘You don’t understand. It wouldn’t make any difference if I was seventy-four,’ she explained patiently. ‘If I was unmarried and living with a man, he’d have a fit if he knew.’

My whole point was that I knew that, and I was suggesting that she simply allow him to have his fit – it wouldn’t hurt anybody but him, after all. But it doesn’t work that way. Where daddy plays the heavy-handed paterfamilias, his ego is to be massaged at all costs, and daughters are infantilised until he slips off the perch.

In 2002 I left Athens to live in a town in the Peloponnese which I had visited on business many times, and never particularly liked. I put my dislike down to the facts that every time I went it was never cooler than 40 C, and I had to live out of a suitcase, and I desperately missed my cat. I also felt obscurely uneasy wandering the sweltering streets at night. In sea-front cafés, large men in loud shirts sat at their complete ease with their beers, one big sandaled foot resting on the opposed knee. They swung worry beads around their index fingers. They exuded the smell of sweat and an air of masculine entitlement and seemed to challenge you to challenge them. They definitely weren’t men who would grieve if separated from their cats. In a sea-front bar one sundown, I fancied a Martini. I had counted on the generous measures you get everywhere in Greece if you order scotch or vodka, but the barman poured me a thimbleful of red Martini into the teensiest glassette of spun sugar delicacy, and handed it to me with a smirk. The men in the bar watched, expressionless, as I drank it. I was given some nuts, with the implication, perhaps, that I had none of my own. A foreign πούστης (pouf) of course, he’s English, they are all πούστηδες. Ι really wished I had ordered a scotch, even though at that exact time I didn't want one.

Anyway, while I was down there flat-hunting, I had dinner with a good friend from Canada who has lived in Greece for many years. I mentioned my vague feeling of unease in this town.

‘Yeah,’ she said evenly. ‘It’s evil.’

‘Oh, come on!’

‘You think I’m joking, huh?’ Obviously she wasn’t.

I couldn’t move into my new flat immediately on moving out of Athens, and so stayed a couple of nights with Ruth, a friend who is Greek but had spent a fair chunk of her life in Australia. She speaks fluent English with an Auzzie accent and has a large collection of put-downs and one-liners picked up from the gay blokes she used to share a house with. (Re. a local queen who thought himself discreet, ‘daaling, he is fuck'n tredgick!’) She was expecting a visitor, a woman unknown to her who was to act as go-between for Ruth and some forty-something bloke who had made a bit of money and now felt the time to wive it had arrived. I said I would make myself scarce while the initial appraisal by the go-between was conducted. I was about to make a facetious suggestion that I would hide my shaving foam and razor from the bathroom when Ruth said ‘if you want your shaving stuff, I’ve shoved it in the top cupboard.’

‘How did it go?’ I asked, after the go-between had introduced the two parties.

‘Μαλάκας είναι,’ she said. He’s a wanker.

They had been introduced on the sea front. Your man had sat Ruth down and ordered for her coffee and fruit, and once she was ensconced, he had gone, chunky of muscle and hairy of back, into the sea, where he displayed great athleticism at great length. He had seemed to think she ought to be both impressed and grateful. He would probably be the type of man who, when out with his lady, would devote a few moments each time she sat down to positioning her limbs until the required degree of modesty was achieved.

‘Chroisd, wad a fucken idiot,’ she mused.

Why do you want this, I asked. Why do you want to fit into this system where men aver ‘my wife’s married, but I’m not’, and uphold their divine right to stick their knobs wherever they like? They can’t commit adultery unless they find a woman to do it with, and they’re intelligent enough to see that, but if it’s one of their own herd that gets covered, they’ll smack her about for it. The undercurrent I sensed on the sea front and around town is one of male violence, and the entitlement of men to rule by force.

Usual answer. You don’t understand; I live here, so I have to fit in. OK. You are right. I don’t understand why you want to fit in.

Another friend never had any doubts about anything, least of all her own views. ‘Men are in crisis!’ she told me one evening, in the same tone as she might have told me the train leaves at six, so don’t mess about. It’s too late now to introduce her to my Algerian student who was giving me his very grave opinions on western immorality as exampled in Leicester:

‘If a boy here look his sister in a bad place, (i.e., a pub where men outnumber women) he don’t will go in there and take her out!’

That seems to assume that the number of unaccompanied females abroad of an evening is evidence that their brothers are not sufficiently concerned with family honour to be patrolling the streets looking for them. Mohammed, if they did, they’d probably get their teeth smashed in - and in my view, deservedly.

Men are in crisis, are they, Alison? I don’t see much evidence of this outside the small circles where some men think they ought to be. I’ve had Leila worrying about paternal reaction to her end of course report at thirty-two. We have had endless requests from Saudi students for single-sex classes, and husbands pacing the street outside ground-floor classrooms to keep an eye on the proceedings, lest a nose or a hairline be revealed. Women resigned to mixed-sex classes often sit in a protective huddle, swathed in robes and veils, and almost have to be treated as a group within a group if they are not to be upstaged by men who seem to forget there are any women present.

‘Look,’ said one Saudi man to a colleague, ‘there’s two women walking on the road, one’s wearing a burqa, one’s wearing a short dress with no back, like they do here. Which one’s gonna get raped?’ He smiled, open hands outstretched, his logic irrefutable. Crisis? What crisis?

From my blog

Meeting Places: Part VI


sway across the marble floors of malls,
back and forth in black fabric, like sunspots

across July eyelids, inside the warrens
of designer labels and western imports.

Pale manikins, drenched in mock sunlight
expose their molded breasts and legs,

not illegal, but these clothes rarely see
the light of day, or the glances of strangers.

But still the girls come, pouring from SUVs
into the fluorescent hallways, free

in the company of brothers or cousins
but they never come alone.

There is an art to eye movement,
nothing lingers, but everything strays,

ours to curves, hidden but not eliminated,
theirs to bear arms, biceps through half sleeves,

both to unspoken desires. My glance meets
long lashes, and a swath of cerulean sky.

Arab eyes are not windows, but lighthouses,
hope from a distance, the long, slow promise

of warmth in a new country, but disaster
to those who cannot see the rocks, black

mirrors of volcanic glass, trembling
and radiating with the call to prayer.

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Wom"en (?), n.,

pl. of Woman.


© Webster 1913.

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