You take photos of me in the Escher and Nendo exhibition at The NGV. You take the photos of me crawling in as far as I can go into an installation designed by Oki Sato entitled Zooming House (2018). Should you leave me it would be all the photos you took of me that would haunt me the most.There are not so many of us together. To have so many reminders of how you saw me: as something worth capturing frozen in moments with you behind a camera.
The exhibition is amazing and the air condition ing and lack of exposure to hot January sun is much appreciated. as we move through the retrospective there are a father and son who like to stand in front of art works and discuss their steps count on their phones.
We decide to take the train home from Melbourne Central. The escalator taking us down is blocked on the right side by a guy who is simply spreading himself across for no reason. He is in blatant disregard for the rule of staying to the left is you wish to stand still on the escalator. You say excuse me to the guy so we can continue down the stairs. You say it politely. He responds. ”You in a hurry.” It is not a question it is a threat. My heart starts to thump. You say politely that yes a little bit. The guy does not move. He is standing next to a woman on her phone. ”Just move.” She snaps at him. And pulls him. But the whole thing took up the escalator ride and the guy stays in our way as long as he can. We rush past him and get through the barriers. I find myself scanning for all the reasons that that was so frightening: toxic masculinity mixed with obvious racism. I find myself worrying about the woman he was with even if they are just friends. I also cring when i remember I actually apologised to the guy as i passed him. An over perky ‘sorry’ as I hurried away to my train that we were not in a hurry for but simply wanted to walk down the escalator uninterrupted. I said sorry out of fear that he was going tomperhaps punch you or attempt to grab you on our way past.
the next day is a Saturday and I see my friend for a catch up drink in the afternoon. She tells me of an incident a few weeks ago where a man punched her as she got off a tram. My friend is small and at the time she was carrying a bunch of flowers. I am filled with horror and rage at this. Again its a cocktail of toxic masculinity, racism and misogyny.
But of course how dare women show fear or frustration at the constant onslaught that is threatening men who don’t seem to need a reason to throw their scary energy and physical strength around. Now there is a multi million dollar disposable razor company jumping onto the now profitable idea of fighting toxic masculinity. The ad shows men calling out other men when they disrespect women, men breaking up little boys fighting and men showing gentleness. The Gillette We Believe: The Best Men Can Be advertisement is just that an advertisement but the fact that so many men seem upset by the concept of kindness and respecting women such an offensive idea really tells you all you need to know about where we stand in relation to such concepts. I refuse to read the comments as I value my time and mental health too much today. It is pretty horrible that such an ad is considered so remarkable. That I cried a bit when I watched it. I got a little choked up at the thought of how many women had to die and be assaulted r mistreated in order for this ad to be considered marketable. I think of the few little boys I know and I try to be hopeful but mostly I’m scared. I don’t want to be.
There was an older boy on my school bus who would punch me hard in my tiny arm as I got off the bus every day after school. I don’t remember his name just how it felt.
On the walk back to the apartment from the train station I grab your hand and squeeze. I thank you for not needing to express your masculinity in scary and threatening ways to strangers in order to make yourself feel important. You are confused by the comment and I know i shouldn’t thank a man for simply being a decent person but here we are.