Readers' Submissions

Thoughts 03 – Men Are To Blame, Right?

  • Written by Tommaso
  • October 4th, 2011
  • 15 min read


Brother and Sisters welcome to my thinking corner!

Irrelevant on which side of the camp you happen to be in, there seems to be a common view that relationships in the west are increasingly becoming difficult. Be that because of high expectations or financial pressures or contrasting aspirations which had not been apparent at the start or impossible work schedules or incompatible lifestyles, men and women just seem to part with the same frequency of airplanes landing on the tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport. Women tend to blame men for this ongoing phenomenon and, no doubt, one way or another we have all heard of relations which have gone pear shaped and it is reported that a significant number of our Sisters in the west seem to be getting angrier and more aggressive as time goes by. What happened to that balanced demure and femininity so much admired by our Brothers and where is the justification of such aggressive female behaviour? Is there any tangible public evidence for this assertion? And if these rumours are true, what are the reasons for causing them?

Her surname is Featherstone but cross her and she will morph into heavyweight. She will touch down for her 60th winter by the end of this year and she has kept reasonably decent looks so much so that despite hardly using any make up and despite her nose looking as if she has gone for a round or two of Muay Thai, she has been voted second most attractive Member of Parliament in Westminster. Mind you, not that the latent talent among the Right Honourable members of the House was of a meaningful sufficient standard to begin with but let’s not argue over perceived beauty or lack of it. I am reliably informed that Ms Featherstone was elected to the House of Commons with a 12.5% majority and for good reasons. Despite a slight lisp in her speech, she is likeable, gets down to business, actively makes use of the internet to communicate with her constituents and she tends to fight for many good causes. These have included a programme to tackle teenage pregnancies, raising awareness of the increasing social divide between rich and poor, fairer taxes for all and she has even rallied for other worthy causes such as the support provided for the “Cyprus Lobby British Parliament”. She likes to sell herself as a local girl who has worked in her constituency’s local library and local youth club but in truth she comes from a reasonably wealthy family, the Ryness chain of hardware and electrical shops in London. She married in 1982, had two children and then divorced in 1996. She is a fighter and on the back of her commitment she has been selected as the Equalities minister in Westminster. If she lived in Thailand she may be equally committed and likely to receive the popular vote in the Kingdom too. Yet for no apparent reason, all of a sudden she sparked controversy very recently when she claimed, referring to the blunders made by bankers, that men make “terrible decision” when they are in charge and blamed men for the “mess the world is in”. This normally articulate woman, with an honest and natural pleading gaze, this woman who is the minister in charge of ending sexism, who has to be unbiased about the value that both men and women bring to decision making said “In terms of decision making I have always gone out and advocated to women you must get your hands on levers, you must get hold of power, you must be where decisions are made”

A friend who is normally an astute political observer and who happened to be watching proceedings with me, was annoyed by her remarks and, somewhat uncharacteristically, immediately commented, “Yes that’s right baby…women must get their hands on “levers” the seven inch plus type of levers…get hold of their “power” and they must be where the decisions are made…in the bedroom” With comments like that men are to blame right?

“Those doofuses [email protected]#$ed me over”

Now, if I told you, Brothers and Sisters, that this brief sentence was placed in the public domain by a 63 year old woman, you may be reasonably justified for dropping your coffee, or beer or whatever it was that you were sipping and feel sympathy for her or, at the very least, express a natural level of curiosity as to what would have caused such reaction but let me stop you in your tracks because this is no ordinary woman and if you addressed her as an old age pensioner she would happily regurgitate a number of expletives, which would make a seasoned Hell’s Angel biker blush with embarrassment. Yet, that is exactly what Carol Bartz said in an interview to Fortune Magazine after she was being summarily dismissed by Yahoo as the latter caused her a gruelling, emotional and bloody despatch reminiscent of the best Macbeth. Ms Bartz is reported in the press as “potty-mouthed” and can be as abrasive as the coarsest of Mancunians’ bouncers after stubbing their little toes with a 150kg dumbbell during a weight training session. She took the CEO’s job in 2009 and slashed costs and staff but she was still being eaten alive by Google and Face book. When Yahoo appointed her, they must have thought they had the perfect candidate as the company’s name derives from Swift’s Gulliver Travels and means “Rude, unsophisticated and uncouth”. Well, they got their wishes because Ms Bartz made it clear that she would “drop-kick to [email protected]#$ng Mars” any employee that stepped out of line. Given her delightful manners together with her floral scented and colourful expressions, it was perhaps not surprising to learn that many of her most cynical critics must have thought she got her comeuppance when she was diagnosed with breast cancer but this steely Minnesota born, computer science graduate fine woman who supported her studies as cocktail waitresses successfully tackled her breast head on with immediate surgery and was back at work within a month! The media has widely reported that Ms Bartz may stand to lose a fortune for breaking the “non disparagement clause” of her termination contract of employment but given that she netted $15m last year and $47m in 2009, she may not necessarily care about forfeiting $10m in severance pay.
Yahoo’s chairman decided that he would fire her by reading a legally prepared script on the phone, which she commented with “Why don’t you have the balls to tell me yourself?” When another friend read me the article from a weekly magazine, he suggested the following answer “Possibly because with a growing number of western women being so pleasant and possessing such elegant and expressive prose, it is a miracle if any men have any balls left in the first place” With comments like that men are to blame right?

Many years before, when asked to comment on how she balanced a career with a family (husband and three children) she said "I have a belief that life isn't about balance, because balance is perfection … rather, it's about catching the ball before it hits the floor”

This statement intrigued me because by implication she was admitting that a) she was not perfect and b) because she was not perfect she could not attain balance and c) life to her was about catching the ball before it hit the floor. Pause for an observation: Where is her fascination with “balls” originating from? Now, if she had remembered her own reply a few years back, she would not have asked the question to her Chairman in the first place. By that I mean that if life, as she alleges, was about catching the ball before it hit the floor, and if her Chairman allegedly did not have any balls, then why did she not exit gracefully? After all, it may be argued there was not point waiting for any ball to hit floor if her Chairman no longer possessed any. Morale of this little story? Some Sisters, it seems, are after our balls. They are allegedly waiting for them to fall so that they can catch them before they hit the floor. Now given that mine, as time inexorably and mercilessly continues to move forward, are not too far from the ground already, I am wondering how to protect them and please do not say that old Tommaso did not warn you when one morning you will be looking for yours and find out they have gone!

Well Brothers and Sisters, after these threatening public episodes, I retreated to my thinking corner at the bottom of my tranquil garden to put my notes down on paper and there, sat on the wooden deck under the canopy of my summer house, I lit my Egyptian Hookah and with the smoke being cooled by water, I puffed away a little shisha made of Tunisian molasses. I puffed a few times while looking down the garden and the first thing I observed was that I should replenish the fruit offerings by the Spirit House at the foot of my little oasis. Yes Brothers and Sisters, I was that worried and it was with some inner disquiet and deep emotional turmoil that I began to annotate a simple plan hoping to find some evidence which would have provided a glimmer of hope that a balanced demure among the affectionately called “gentle gender” could be retained when facing career pressures. My criterion was based on women who had a public profile and who, therefore, were under the scrutiny of media pressure. Women who seemingly had a job as opposed to venturing from party to party and who were successful in their own right. I chose this category not because women in it were better than ordinary hard working Sisters but because I was curious to test the notion that success and a committed career were compatible with being a woman and by that I mean the retention of the unique gift of being feminine, which so many men find so charming. Of course, I knew of many successful women per se but successful and balanced and feminine? This was a tough task and not even Chancellor Angela Merkel who must have femininity in abundance lurking somewhere could aspire to make the grade. After all, if we are to believe rumours, exceedingly wealthy Signor Berlusconi did affectionately whisper “coo coo” to Mrs Merkel while visiting the gardens during a recent summit break only for her to reply softly “Oh, Silvio!” Nevertheless, I was curious to find out if there was such a specimen. A woman to whom elegance and grace had been bestowed in the same generous quantities I apply to my toasted bread after opening a hazelnut chocolate jar…yes I admit we all have our weaknesses and mine is called Nutella but I digress. I was looking for someone who was not only successful but also loved, admired and respected and in particular I wanted to see how different other successful women were from the likes of Featherstone and Bartz both of whom were successful in their own right but who also seemed to be acquiring an increasingly hostile mood towards men. Did the act of climbing the ladder of power equate to a loss of all the beautiful things the Lord had initially gifted our Sisters with? Were they to follow the same fate which had poisoned their male counterpart achievements and which had created many incurable ailments such as greed, anger and arrogance? For the avoidance of any misunderstandings, let me shout from the highest platform I can find that “Of course women are intelligent and of course they are capable of achievements beyond our expectations” however, for those who succeeded because of their brain, I wondered if the compensation paid was ultimately that of an imbalance somewhere else. At first I could not find anything and I was often on the verge of abandoning my quest. Then, quite inexplicably and totally unexpectedly I stumbled into something Asian while in Thailand and which at first I believed it may be Thai but it wasn’t. No, Brothers and Sisters, I am not referring to my teeruk who, in my view, has as much femininity and grace to brighten my life during its remaining cycle and possibly the next when, allegedly, according to a fortune telling monk, I shall return even more “hansum” than I already am. My teeruk is lovely and sufficiently successful but she is not in the public eye and therefore, in the interest of fairness and to avoid any bias I have had to exclude her from this exercise. Therefore, with that unique perseverance, which has forged most of my career, I kept searching.

Enter Gahee Kahi…Ga… who? Kahi (also known as Park Kahi). Born on December 25 back in 1980 in a small village in Gangwon in South Korea, she did not discover her passion for dancing until she was 16. However, her family was opposed to the idea and she could not access any professional training. Her father made her go to a university in a rural area. She obeyed at the beginning; however, eventually, she could not stand it anymore, and left her hometown to pursue her dream. She never contacted her father once in the next 7 years. Meanwhile she taught herself as an autodidact. She went to Seoul alone and empty-handed. A friend took her to an interview for a backup dancing role, she did well in the trial, and was offered the job. When she started her dancing career she was 18. Nowadays she is the lead singer of the female pop group “After School” under the label of Pledis Entertainment. Here is an intro video clip about her in an appropriately little number called “Wow” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFN3xtC75CM&feature=fvsr

In a recent interview Kahi, soon to turn 31, was asked what the key to her success was and what problems she had had to overcome. She thought for a little while before answering the question then she looked at the camera and it would have been easy for her to blame men, her father in this case, for initially denying her with the opportunity of pursuing her passion as a singer and a dancer. She could have blamed men in her society for not allowing equal opportunities to both genders. She could have blamed anything in her world but she decided not to. Instead she decided to answer as follows “My success is down to perseverance and my will. What keeps me balanced is my will. Whenever there is something I need to do. I need my will power to put myself together to balance myself, Yes my prior goal was to be a singer then somehow I got through this new world of dancing. Still my goal was to be a singer but first I really got into the dancing. It wasn’t about will. I was just crazy about dancing and then I pull my will power to push myself again to become a singer. It is really hard to compete with those who have got the talent. That is something that you can’t do even with the fullest of will power…to be talented, talent itself. So when things don’t work as I want, I instantly go off-balanced. I go into a panic and cannot do anything and I lock myself at home. But one of my principles is that talent cannot win over perseverance. Many of the talented people don’t seem to work hard since they are so certain about their ability, I think. I am not gifted in singing. It took me desperate, endless efforts to become a singer. There was and there is no other way around and I continue to invest time in vocal training for development and I am still working at it. My method of keeping it balanced is will. I think it’s how everyone does it. I have crossed many mountains so maybe I can say that I am a singer. Here I am, my name is Gahee and I am a singer but there will be many more mountains to cross in the future but that does not scare me because I have made it thus far and I will push myself harder.”

Hold for a moment dear Brothers and Sisters, a text message has just been delivered to my mobile phone and given that it is from Brother Dana it must be attended to without delay…let’s see
“Thank you for the link. I am in love. Do you have any more clips about her?”
Well, when Brother Dana asks we cannot possibly refuse. Therefore, here are three little pearls for you to enjoy. But first let me leave you with a question; notwithstanding her seemingly appealing and humble natural disposition, how much do you think that beauty actually had to do with her success? Your answers may spur a future submission on this very subject, that is beauty

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPKholaJdX0&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmdeKzLlS8w&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrSIphk1bNg&feature=related

Stay safe and accept whatever life hands over to you and try and do something with it.