Saturday, 11 August 2012

Ladies leave your husbands at home

While I am all for gender equality I think it's time we all took a step back from the
"we are all equal and women can play cricket too" bandwagon and admitted that some things are for men, some things are for women and ne'er the twain shall meet.

Kids know this.  Kids are the masters of knowing what is sensible with regard to mixing the sexes.

I recall a particular method in primary school whereby if you were planning a game that required large numbers of girls and you wanted to round up participants you simply linked arms and marched around the playground chanting this:

"Who wants to play
No boys!"

Simple but effective: straight to the point. It alleviates any potential awkwardness when some enthusiastic Bernard tries to to join.  The same method worked for boys wanting to organise a game of touch footy.

"Who wants to play
Touch foo-tee
No girls!"

It's not sexist or exclusionary, it's just practical.

(It should be pointed out however, that the round up method sometimes became the activity itself. By the end of lunchtime the elastics mob had swollen to some 20 girls marching around with arms linked. We had not gotten around to playing our game of elastics yet.  I think we were really enjoying the the safety-in-numbers mob mentality of chanting, 'No boys!' all lunchtime.)

The same rules should apply to clothes shopping.

Ladies, leave your husbands/ boyfriends/ significant others at home. Please, I'm begging you.

There are certain places where a man is just not welcome. The women's wear section of David Jones or Myers is one such place. And don't even get me started on men who loiter in the change rooms with their ladies. Perverts OUT!

Shopping is a slightly furtive and clandestine activity for women.  We don't really need any more clothes. We are all aware of that.  But we just like to waft sometimes to see if we can find anything we need that we didn't actually know that we needed yet.

Ladies, if you bring your boyfriend into our sacred space, all of a sudden the rest of us feel judged. It really interrupts our heavenly department store flow. It bursts our bubble: that meaningless and compulsive consumerism that is the secret women's business of clothes shopping.

When a pair of male eyes sets upon us during our secret business our inner monologue switches from a dreamy:

Hmm... I don't think one can ever have enough white shirts.


What void am I trying to fill with all these clothes I buy? Do I really need another wrap dress when I never wear the ones I have? Is it necessary to try five  pairs of jeans on, when I am already wearing a perfectly good pair?  Is there something more practical I should be doing at home? Mutton dressed as lamb, mutton dressed as lamb, mutton dressed as lamb you are too old for that dress!

The other thing is, men just don't know how to stay out of the way when women are shopping. Women have a sixth sense. We can be perusing the same rack as another woman, our paths converging when suddenly, in an imperceptible movement, one makes way for the other.

This deft manouvre is known as  "the sales rack switcheroo." We don't need eye contact, we don't need to confer, we just know when to duck and weave to stay out of another shopper's way.

Just recently I took myself off to Myers for a perfectly pointless waft through the sales racks. I was aghast to find a significant number of women had brought their men with them and were moving through the racks in mixed pairs: as though shopping is an approved mixed doubles sport.

I was even more aghast to find one such woman rifling through the 90% off sales rack (that's right, I said, 90% off!) while her 'man' stood glued to her back like a buzzard. When I say "stood glued to her back" what I really mean is: "stood between me and the 90% off sales rack."

Men, if you do find yourselves in the women's wear section of David Jones, please be mindful of where you are standing.  Never EVER EVER stand between a woman and a sales rack. You will be shoved and you will deserve it.

This particular young man had eyes only for his shopaholic girlfriend. Sweet? Yeah, yeah, whatever. We've all been there. Just get out of my way, lover boy before I shove you.  I can see something black and jersey on that rack and the red markdown ticket is calling me. I'll do what I have to to get to it before she does.

I hovered meaningfully and made a sort of 'reaching out' motion towards an item just to his left.  This is the universal shopper's sign language of, "move to the right please and make way for me."

He stayed put. Just glued to her side, watching her with his droopy, shag-on-a-rock "I just want to be near her" demeanour.  Sweet? Yeah, whatever. Mate, find a chair. Sit in it and stay out of the way.  You are in serious danger whilst you are hovering so gormlessly around a 90% off sales rack. Seriously, I will shove you.

As I said, there were at least four other women shopping with men in tow, in the women's wear section: the men just drooging around behind them aimlessly, standing in the way, not being mindful of other shopper's needs (i.e. my need to get to the rack of fitted sparkly party dresses that I would never ever wear in a pink fit but just want to touch lovingly with my fingertips to glean some of their sparkly magic happiness for myself.)

The whole male presence really interrupted my valium-like shopping waft. It really ruined it for me.

I think next time I will bring my sister and my mother. We will link arms and march into that women's wear department chanting this:

"Who wants to go
clothes shop-ping?
no boys!"


  1. Penny, I always enjoy your weekly musings and practical tips, and have a good chuckle. I well remember your rule that the safest thing to eat in a roadside diner is a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich. I still adhere to that. I wonder if in a future post you could enlighten the readership on what happened with the follow-up novel to Sing to Me. I know you had something in the works (The Song Thief?) but not how it all panned out. Cheers

    1. Hi Simon, it's nice of you to assume I have a 'readership.' As far as I am aware, my two subscribers are: my sister and my aunt, who are avid and devoted 'readers.' So I guess you could call them a 'readership.' re: the follow-up novel - I over-thought it and over-wrote it. Nearly got it published, then it all fell over. Since then I have written another, which was conceived and finished quickly and is, in my humble opinion, quite good. I am working at a way to get it published. Seems an online profile may help. Hence the blog. Although I am not really doing much to draw attention to myself. (Sometimes it gets put on the Kidspot Village Voices blog roll.) Otherwise it's just a regular writing exercise for me that I am enjoying because it's so obscure. Thanks for reading.

  2. Hahaha oh you're still a cack Penny! Enjoying the blog muchly. I remember the Things of Stone & Wood tour, happy memories ... for me more than you it seems ...