The Culture - A Day in the Life
by Laura Jackson
She wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and it all starts. Battle number one: unattainable beauty ideals- does she choose to apply makeup, or not? Do her hair, or not? She is struggling in a world where a woman’s appearance is critiqued at every moment.
She puts on her clothes, grappling with contradictory messages; “don’t dress like a slut or you can’t expect men to be able to control themselves!”, “don’t dress like a prude”, and “don’t even think about making a choice to dress according to the traditions of your culture”.
She grabs her possessions to leave the house. Maybe she picks up a ‘weapon’ to keep herself safe? What time is it? Is it dark? Is it safe to walk alone? Does she need to thread her keys between her fingers to punch an attacker?
As she drives to work, she passes billboards which objectify women in every way.
The radio plays songs undermining consent, glorifying rape and the murder of women, and telling her to “shut the f*** up”.
Once the car is parked, she walks from the car to work, and is beeped at, called out to and leered at by groups of men, told to smile by strangers, had her appearance critiqued over and over again. “Yeah baby”. “Oi jiggle tits, I saved you a seat on my face.”
She finally makes it to work, where her opinions count for less than men’s, where she have a far smaller chance of reaching the highest positions in many given careers, and is paid less for the same work.
The work day is done – she head out to a bar! A place where she should be able to enjoy herself. Instead she is routinely groped & harassed and sticks together with her friends for our own safety.
As she makes it back home, she know that she bears the weight of certain gender norms, which often require the larger responsibility for the raising of children, and household management, while trying to manage careers, or if she is the woman who chose not to stay at home with her kids, she is scorned & belittled and told what we should remember as we “do the ironing”.
By the time the day comes full circle and she is back in bed, she faces impossible comparisons with pornography, where women can be forced into sexual situations which they aren’t comfortable with, either by their own feelings that they should submit to expectations, or by the pressure by partners.
And then it’s time to wake up and do it all over again.
And even with all this laid out, I know that I am outlining the day of a woman who has certain advantages and privileges – she has a job, and a car and access to clothes and makeup, as well as the infrastructure of a first world nation. And the suffering of women who do not have these advantages, is worse on an enormous scale, from child marriages, entire groups of girls vanishing, survivors of rape being publicly stoned, women and girls without access to their basic human rights and education.
The story I’ve outlined, is a “good” day. She wasn’t beaten, raped, married off, sold into slavery or shot.
But when, in Australia, intimate partner violence is the number one, non disease related cause of death, disability or illness of women, between the ages of fifteen and forty four (Tara Moss, 2015) we can’t just look at the women who are having the so called “good” days.
What about the woman who lives with the man who is pacing the house in rage, who is breaking her possessions, who has isolated her from her friends and family? Who has cut off her access to finances, who puts her down, belittles, shames and humiliates her. Who demands to know where she is at all times. Who is jealous, controlling, coercive and threatening? Who has already caused so much pain, before he even raises his fist?
But then he does.
Laura Jackson is an emerging playwright and performer who is attempting to raise awareness and open conversations through her plays “Handle It” & “The Culture”.
“The Culture” is a brand new play from Laura Jackson which addresses critical concerns for a 2015 audience of domestic violence, homophobia and street harassment, in following dovetailing stories of two best friends Will who is gay and Katie who is a young woman. The two struggle for equality as they search for love in a modern culture which deems them both to be inferior.
“Handle It” is a one woman play, which covers issues of online privacy, sexual assault and victim blaming when a young woman has compromising pictures posted onto Facebook without her permission and six characters around her are left reeling in the wake of these events.
The Culture & Handle It were performed in at the Sydney Fringe in September – read a review of The Culture here:
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