Confessions of a hag-fag, male loonies, Joana Vasconcelos

Very funny.

Am I a hag-fag?

Readers who can still remember things will recall that in the two posts before my last one, I talked about online misogyny, the shameful toleration of domestic violence in Portugal, and the treatment of date-rape and wife-murder in popular culture. It will further be recalled that in these posts I took a position intended to be supportive of women, and critical of the sort of coprocephalic[i] misogyny encountered, in particular, on the web.

In this way, it seems I may have left myself in danger of being identified as a Male Feminist. I am not sure how I feel about this. I have found out that there’s nothing much worse than a Male Feminist.

A site called returnofkings.com has been especially influential in setting me straight about these ‘turn-coat gender traitors, [who] publicly self-castrate, lying to themselves and others about their own sexual imperatives’. The site’s ‘columnist-at-large’ Tuthmosis Sonofra identifies a male feminist as someone who ‘engages in the typically feminist mental acrobatics that—when it’s all said and done—have turned night into day, made up into down, and rendered men into women.’ Such a person has ‘a slovenly appearance, a false veneer of intellectualism and academic grounding, and a vegan-style beard’. Worst of all, he has ‘a lispy, effete gay voice, and does condescending, snarky girl-tone and eye-rolling’.

I am surprised that the writer has missed the opportunity to dub such a person a hag-fag, and do so now.

I have not yet caught myself doing any of the things he mentions, but will be on my guard from now on.

More fun with inversions

If you liked hag-fag (and even if you didn’t), what do you get if you invert the initial ‘h’ and the ‘t’ in hash-tag? There, isn’t that amusing? It calls to mind what a Portuguese male acquaintance of Veronica’s said the other day: ‘mulher sem bigode é como um ovo sem sal’ (my translation: a woman without a moustache is like an egg without salt). I’m not sure if this was an expression of personal taste or the repetition of a Portuguese saying, but I hope it’s the latter. The Portuguese sense of humour is perhaps an acquired taste, but it has its moments.

I can’t think of any more thigh-slappingly humorous inversions. Contributions gratefully received, good ones reproduced with acknowledgement.

Call me paranoid…

‘Returnofkings?’ I hear you thinking, ‘Tuthmosis Sonofra?’ What sort of weird little hobbity spaced-out person runs this site, and why am I taking it seriously enough to even mention it? Isn’t it a bit like the Urban Dictionary, mostly done as a kind of joke anyway, which only someone as out-of-touch as me would keep trying to get a cheap laugh out of?

Well, OK, maybe, but I’m not so sure these wankers are harmless. Other articles published on returnofkings.com recently include ‘The myth of never hitting a woman’, ‘Seven ways modern women treat men like dogs’ and ‘Street harassment is a myth invented by socially-retarded white women’. These pieces are flanked by click-bait with titles like ‘Beautiful single chicks available’ and ‘Russian girls make the best girlfriends’, and they get plenty of comments (the street harassment one has 1,056). They are energetically argued, and without spelling or punctuation mistakes, but otherwise they seem to have been written by much the same sort of male who contributes to the Urban Dictionary – where, on male feminists for example, we find a contributor calling himself Chad McIroncock (tee-hee), but also one who goes by the not-so-amusing sobriquet niggarkilla 123 (probably not the sort of person Samuel Johnson had in mind when he defined a lexicographer as a harmless drudge.)

The experience of exploring sites like these is like lifting a rock and seeing what’s crawling around underneath. They are mostly ignorant and nasty, even the clever ones are  bitterly resentful, and they seem to speak for a large number of obnoxious males, who in the US are probably  armed  to  the teeth. This brings us back to domestic violence, of course (the Number One cause of which, according to the UD, is ‘women just wont [sic ] listen’), but why should it stop at the front door? What happens when a not-terribly-well-adjusted American male, armed with an automatic rifle and a furious sense of grievance, has had enough? Well, in the sixteen months from 1st October 2017 to 15th February 2019, there were twenty mass shootings in the US, killing one hundred and eighty-eight people and wounding six hundred and sixty-six (figures courtesy of Mother Jones magazine). It is rare for these killings to be completely random. Who would really be surprised if the next one, or the next-but-one, or the one after that, had a gathering of feminists as its target?

However,  what about Joana Vasconcelos?

Your average male supremacist loony would probably have very little time for the gorgeous Joana Vasconcelos retrospective show, on till June 24th at the Serralves Foundation in Porto. We went to this with my brother and sister-in-law last month, and if you are in Portugal between now and then, I recommend you do the same (or you can go with somebody else if you prefer).

The show is basically the ‘I’m your Mirror’ one which was such a success at the Guggenheim in Bilbao last year. Studio International magazine has a good article about that show https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/joana-vasconcelos-video-interview-guggenheim-bilbao-im-your-mirror) and a video interview with Vasconcelos, who (it says) (and she agrees) ‘seeks to explode the myths and realities around female experience … exploring what it is to be a woman in contemporary society.’

Marilyn

And of course you can see a feminist purpose in many of her sculptures and installations  – ‘Burka’ and ‘Marilyn’ (the high-heeled-shoes-made-out-of-shiny-saucepans one) spring to mind straight away –  but while such subversive readings are obviously available, they are mostly suggested with a light, allusive touch. I must say what I liked most about the Vasconcelos show was not its feminism but its femininity. That’s probably a no-go word these days, but if you go, have a look at big, tactile, colourful pieces like ‘Egeria’, ‘Finisterra’ or ‘Lilicoptére’, and see if you agree.

If you take the time to watch the Vasconcelos interview, you will probably feel as sorry as I am not to have seen the show at the Guggenheim, particularly the huge, gorgeous ‘Egeria’ drooping and prying and exploring all about the central atrium, but the Serralves  museum and lovely garden are nice places to see the stuff  (‘Marilyn’ looked fabulous on a well-mown lawn on a sunny Spring day), and the garden also has an uncompromising Richard Serra (great if you like huge rusty iron things) and Anesh Kapoor’s stunning sky mirror.

See you next time.

Finisterra
Lilicoptère
Egeria at the Bilbao Guggenheim

[i] I was congratulating myself on inventing this clever word all by myself when I found out that it has already been coined. There is even a facebook page called ‘coprocephalic’, which seems to be about a death-metal record label, as far as I can work out, or maybe a group, or perhaps a record.


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