New Internationalist

Agony!

Issue 227

new internationalist
issue 227 - January 1992

AGONY!
GREAT AND IMPORTANT MEN - past and present - could have avoided
many GREAT MISTAKES had they listened to women. Here they seek
advice from our Agony Aunt Emmeline. She, after a fashion, gives it...

Dear Emmeline,
There I was. Just about to send it to the publisher - the magnum opus - and in comes the wife, saying:

'I hope you have an analysis of gender in there...'

'Who?'

'Gender. Women. Difference. Oppression along gender lines. It's fundamental.'

'Ah! Women's liberation you mean? Of course that will come with the socialist revolution.'

'Not good enough.'

'What do you mean "not good enough"?'

'Doesn't necessarily follow.'

'Oh...'

What do you think? Is she right? And what can I do about it?'

Yours flustered,

Karl M
London

Emmeline replies: Well, start again, Karl. There's this little old conceptual package called patriarchy' you could try unravelling. It might spark off a really radical thought or two...

Dear Emmeline,
It's not fair. They are being mean to me. Not buying oil from me like they used to. What's the matter with them? All I did was show off a bit. You know, flashing the equipment, showing them what it could do. Why shouldn't I be proud of it? They are proud of theirs...

Yours confused,

Saddam H,
Baghdad

Emmeline replies: It's true... You are not alone in your preoccupations. But have you tried that game where you take a peek down the shaft of that SuperGun of yours and pull the trigger at the same time? It's supposed to be quite an experience - for a man. Alternatively you could try growing up. I hear there are men who have managed it.

Illustration by KATE CHARLESWORTH

Dear Emmeline,
It seemed such a great idea. A huge dam, thousands of barrages and loads of hydro-electric power for Indian industry. And what's happening? Those little green women are linking up with tribals, hugging trees, making the life of Bank officials a misery. And now those women are refusing to get out of the way before we flood the region. But what is really get- ting to me is the way the cleaning lady chuckles and goes, "tut, tut. Narmada dam, heh? What a b- up!" What can I do?

Yours bothered,

Lewis P,
Washington

Emmeline replies: It's a bit late in the day to be asking for advice! Why don't you take on board what the women in the area are saying and pull your World Bank out of the scheme? You know it stinks. Oh, and try consulting your cleaner in future.

Dear Emmeline,
Don't laugh, OK? So I'm having a repetitive dream which I can't interpret. There are all these angry women who are booing and whistling me off the platform and shouting: 'Dora! Dora! Dora!'. What can it mean?

Yours anxiously,

Sigmund F,
Vienna

Emmeline replies: Surely you remember Dora? Your classic case study of hysteria? That 15 year-old girl whose strange aversion to sexual advances from her father's best friend was caused by her own secret sexual longing for her father and her jealousy over his liaison with another woman. Fitted in neatly with the Oedipus stuff didn't it? So neatly that you glossed over details indicating that she had for many years been sexually abused by her venereal diseased father, who was now eagerly passing on his beloved daughter to his best friend. Need I say more?

Dear Emmeline,
While in Greece on holiday with my brothers I fell for this local woman called Helen. Was she gorgeous or was she gorgeous! Anyway, I couldn't leave her behind with that wimp of a husband of hers so I did the manly thing and kidnapped her. Now her husband's family have started a war against my family and my mad sister Cassandra is prophesying doom. I'm not giving Helen back, that's for sure. Besides, I think she is beginning to fancy me a little... What should I do?

Yours in a quandary,

Troy,
Paris

Emmeline replies: Has it crossed your mind to ask her whether she would like to stay with you or go back to her husband - or (more sensibly) ditch you both? And that Cassandra sounds like a sensible woman to me.

Dear Emmeline,
I don't know if I count as man - but millennia of patriarchy have addressed me as He. My problem began when one day I was idly playing mudpies. I'd made some little joke figures with silly features - some sillier than others. Something tickled my nose. I sneezed - and the blasted things started moving, breathing and other activities I'd rather not go into. Anyway, they have run riot and made such a mess of the world that no angel or deity in their right mind would want to go anywhere near it. What should I do?

Yours guiltily,

God,
Ubiquitous Hall

Emmeline replies: Don't ask me. It's your mess, mate. Anyway, I'm fed up with this traditional womanly role of listener/nanny/mother. I've got a life of my own to get on with, right? Go and hassle some bloke!

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