Friday 20 January 2012

I like some casual sexism with my popcorn and some harassment with my pistachios

I am writing at 7:07pm and have just watched five minutes of Inside Hollywood on Channel 5 USA, where the films Man On A Ledge and The Artist were covered and news of a possible Beetlejuice sequel announced. Then the male presenter said, "Now here's some news that'll have most men running for the hills," announced the Sex and the City prequel and mentioned that it will cover Carrie & co's 1980s coming of age "as they begin to ask questions about sex, relationships, love and family and discover Manhattan." The feature lasted perhaps a minute, but a minute is too long for just one sexist sneer. He ended his announcement with the words, "We can't wait. To go out. When it's on." Here's my take on the men who don't hide their loathing, disdain and hate of SATC - and any film which contains (a) more than one woman, (b) where the women are friends with each other, (c) where the women aren't suffering, oppressed, struggling or in pain.

I have been at home today so have had a break from the endemic sexism of everything. Last night was the launch for The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams, which I attended. metallic full-sleeved American Apparel skintight bodycon dress with a high scoop neck, one long kingfisher green satin glove, a full gauntlet of silver cuffs over the top, 100% pure fake diamante stud earrings, black tights with black knee-high socks over the top, patent leather cancan boots and a long silver clutch bag. Yup. Had two glasses of cranberry juice and heard some funny anecdotes about the following:

1. A woman who has a phobia about vomiting. This phobia has destroyed her life. As I commented, "One oughtn't laugh."
2. A novel in which nothing happens except for a woman going down the stairs and almost opening the door. In the climax of the novel she opens the door and goes out. Me: "What's the twist? She's dead. No? Where's her husband? He's dead, she killed him. No? See, this is why I like bodice-busters."
3. An Iranian film in which a little girl goes to buy a goldfish on New Year's Day. The goldfish shop is about to close. The girl drops her money down the grate. Can she fish it out and get her fish? My friend: "At that moment it's like, be still my heart."
4. A series of insider stories, too excruciating to print, about Booker prize judges who've gone up to shortlisted authors on the night itself to tell them they almost won and that it was between them and the ultimate winner. Top agent: "If you almost won you've still lost."

It was an excellent party for an excellent publication, held in a wood-panelled function room in the crypt at St Martins in the Fields.

I left at around 9:10pm (oh... navy blue full length stiff military coat, bespoke, 1950s vintage, emerald green wool scarf, rough burnt-orange suede slouch bag) and was stopped dead by three guys walking towards me on a very crowded St Martin's Lane, just outside Pret. Short guys, between 20 and 23 I'd say, two brown-Hispanic, one black. Portuguese? South American? Singaporean? In expensive, clean, comfortable studenty clothes: baggy jeans, puffy trainers, jackets with plaid shirts underneath and backpacks. Either international students or tourists, travelling to make sure that no women in any part of the globe should remain free of harassment.

"All right, darling. How are you doing?" he asks in good, clipped English, with an openly jeering voice and face.

He's staring hard into my eyes with that classic sneer+leer hate combo which all women know. His two friends are also stopped and staring into my face, cockily posed, grinning, delighted, expectant, watching for my reaction. Oh, they really do love to bait and harass women on the street, don't they? They find it entertaining. This is what my guy got, straight into his face:

Me: What, you want to do a bit on on-street sexual harassment at nine o'clock in the evening?
Him [face falling]: What?
Me: Sexual harassment is against the law.
Him: No.
Me: Sexual harassment is against the law.
Him [Beginning to panic]: No... I didn't.
Me: Sexual harassment is against the law and I'll call the police if you don't shut up.

They hastened away.

That's the way to do it, sisters, B-style.