Excluding the Quiet – Newspaper Lifestyle Sections Selling Us the Loud

Two days ago, my friend (whom I have not met), @rubywildflower, sent out a request for a guest post on her blog, which I thought was a good challenge. I don’t usually use this blog for comments on love and relationships – it’s more of a culture / politics / sport type of thing. I wrote it, she published it – and I received lots of great compliments and retweets from people who don’t usually respond to my blog posts. That was very cool and unexpected.

It brought me to realise, though, that in the realm of comments on love and relationships, newspapers, magazines and TV really do, for the most part, represent the views and worlds of a very small proportion of the population. The loud. The brash. The insider. Flick through any lifestyle section of a newspaper in Sydney and it is, like the real estate section, all about the inner city. People living it loud and large, drinking, partying, staggering through the weekend. Women trying to emulate Sex in the City. And people are expected to live vicariously through its participants. Samantha Brett and her “push up bra” sensibilities.  I have never met a Samantha Brett – and nor would she want to meet a quiet man like me.  Sam de Brito and his insouciant air when he sells his schtick – “I’m an unreconstructed man / I loathe political correctness / take me or leave me”.  I have never known a man like that in the real world – he seems to me to be more like Pete Campbell from Mad Men, pretending to have “everything”, when it’s just an act. Selling an image, rather than being an actual person who thinks those things.   Mia Freedman, for all her practiced self deprecation and charm also strikes me as rather unrepresentative, in that she has been a publishing insider for many years, getting invites to things her readers will never go to (but desperate want to), meeting people her readers won’t and so on.  She is, though, being her true self, which is a plus – however, it’s not a real self in which I have much interest.

It’s a world so removed from a number of us it’s almost another planet. I have always been pretty quiet when in pubs and parties – awkwardly so. I do talk a bit when warmed up and the people I am with seem interested in what I have to say – and vice versa. It doesn’t come naturally to me.  This is why I usually loathe Sydney’s loud bars, with their too loud music and talk-averse atmosphere. Sydney also seems to be home to some people who will turn up to a drinks session, see that no-one is loud enough for them, then leave. I like it when those people leave.  It is pretty clear that they don’t want to talk to the quiet people, the nice people – just those that are like them. I have personally found Melbourne’s bars and people to be more welcoming and open for long, interesting chats – but again, that’s just my experience.

This is not to say that lifestyle sections of newspapers are totally bereft of excellent writers who do speak for the quiet, the nice, the shy and the awkward. There is, however, a place for those that don’t live it large.   Anyway, here is my take on how men (well, at least me), see women, as posted previously by Ruby Wildflower.

Not all Men are Sam de Brito

Reading Twitter throws at me a range of experiences and life pathways I find fascinating as well as overwhelming. What I find overwhelming is how many women have a default position of putting themselves down and also thinking of themselves as uninteresting or undesirable. It really does my head in.

This is because many women seem to be wrestling with a negative self-perception caused by any number of factors. The magazines I look at as I avoid the “Down, Down, Prices are Down” posters are astonishingly good at parading the idea that a certain look, weight loss and exercise are much more important than personality. Make the mistake of reading just one paragraph of the stuff and you are dragged into a world of dumb.  Look at the TV and there you see The Biggest Loser and women crying because they can’t find a man because of their size.   Then there’s Sunrise, Today and those shows that demonstrate that intellect, a finely tuned bullshit meter and a healthy dose of cynicism won’t get you a gig on TV.

This all leads to the idea that people in general won’t find you interesting or engaging if they aren’t a certain way.  So, as a result, many women on Twitter stay quiet for fear of being criticised / seen as dumb.  So, for people who seek society’s acceptance, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle.  They shouldn’t be quiet or scared of being judged. Everyone says stupid shit on Twitter and in blogs. I certainly do. I use it to say whatever comes out of my brain and I cop all sorts of abuse and criticism.  If I know it’s unjustified, it hurts for a few seconds (it used to hurt for longer) and I move on.  If it’s justified, I suck it down and will admit to my blunder.  It’s what makes Twitter so good – it shows a lot of our flaws and strengths, all at the same time.  All of us of either gender should use it as a way of understanding ourselves and the way we interact.   In short, women shouldn’t be defined by the way others see them, women or men – but often do it.  The rest of this post, however, will be about men and how men in their 30s see women in their 30s. If people are interested.

Women who want men to notice them, date them, be with them, this is for you.  If it’s men you seek, they are out there.  I was out there in my 20s, pretty much the same person I am now, except I had zero self confidence and believed I would be single all my life.  I was always the friend women never saw as a possible boyfriend. The confidant, not the hot, sexy edgy man they sought. I see that a number of women in the 20s (and 30s) are still seeking the “other”, the edgy, often arrogant, haughty man who practices the bullshit “treat then mean, keep them keen” mantra. And it is bullshit. Any man who actually believes that mantra isn’t worth spitting on, let alone deserving of your intimacy.  This is kind of myth that blokes like the odious Sam de Brito perpetuate in his largely unreadable column and twitter feed. Good men know that de Brito and his ilk are insufferable wankers you wouldn’t buy a beer for. The ones who give other men a bad name.

These same men also read people like Samantha Brett and her type and think of them as “high maintenance” and therefore avoid them like the plague. High maintenance infers that you will spending a lot of your own coin just to keep a woman who wants to substitute substance for flashy bling. That is also a false relationship. If your partner has a job which enables her to bling up and feel good about wearing nice things, then great. Partnerships should be equal and that should also apply to spending money on things.  Money shouldn’t be the basis of any relationship, it should be mental, physical and spiritual connections (and I don’t mean religion here).

There is nothing wrong with admitting to loving Lego, World of Warcraft, politics, whatever really floats your boat. And there are single men out there who want to connect with you. They want to spend a quiet evening discussing the latest episode of Mad Men and celebrating how Joan kicked that arsehole of a husband out the door. They want to go to dorky movies with you. They are harder to find, perhaps, because the dating world seems to demand that men, as well as women, put on a false front and set of criteria in dating profiles. The men you seek will like the whole package – they won’t be talking to your breasts, but they will like them all the same, no matter their size. The same goes for your bodies – there are men out there who realise that true sexiness is defined by what the mind does with your own body as well as that of your partner, not how it would look like to a magazine audience.

They are out there, these men, if you want. They might have some emotional damage, they might be coming out of messy divorces or relationships, they might have children. They might not be exciting, edgy or hot in a conventional way. They may also need some guidance in the bedroom, especially if past partners were of the “I threw him a bit once a week / month / year” variety. But they will provide engaging conversation and support as well as other benefits.

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One thought on “Excluding the Quiet – Newspaper Lifestyle Sections Selling Us the Loud

  1. Good post ! I thouruoghly agree with you. As an expat living in Germany, I was recently in Australia, I come from Sydney, and it is sometimes horrifying to see that this type of crappy commentary you write about seems to be the norm in the papers etc. I’m not sure what has happened in Australia over the years, but it seems as if the populace having been fed a steady stream of mediocrity and bullshit have attained to reach a high standard of standardness. The shallowness is all too evident, Sam de Brito obviously loves to watch the Rugby League and is not alone in being a caricatur of himself. ie not real ! and I really think Mia and Samantha should have a girly thing together, they’d be a perfect match. Shallow end of the gene pool, ie not real !

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