Gender politics

Spare a thought for Jud, Naomi, Luca and Howard as the rain refused to leave today. All day. It being the first day of the second Ashes test and being at Lords and seeing as the entire six week trip was culminating in this one, defining and glorious moment, one must shed at least one tear for them. Mind you, that would just add to the general dampness.

While the cricket managed to make a lot of people miserable this morning, there was a bigger bit of a furore on Radio 4. John Humphrys, famous dinosaur masquerading as a journalist, was talking to a woman from advertising standards who was on to discuss a couple of ads that had been pulled because they broke new gender stereotyping rules.

John claimed that it was okay to show a woman caring for a baby because women were better suited for caring. This sparked a huge outcry (on Twitter, anyway). I guess he’s the poster boy for the patriarchy. How awful it would be if you were his daughter. Or wife. Still, they’d be very good at caring for him I guess. Dementia is clearly not that far away.

On the train today I overheard a conversation between train guards. Apparently a wheelchair passenger wanted to change at Surbiton to go to Kingston. It seems the lift is broken at Surbiton (it was when mum was here) so one guard was suggesting a change at Woking because the train didn’t stop at Clapham. The wheelchair left the train at Surbiton and I have no idea how they managed. You’d think lifts on stations would be a bit of a priority wouldn’t you.

I was on the train because I was not at work today and, instead, I left Sharon and Mirinda to soak up the lack of sunshine while I went up to the Hayward Gallery to view the new exhibition there: Kiss My Genders.

It was the type of exhibition I love. A collection of 35 international artists and their views of an overarching concept. In this case, an exploration and celebration of gender identity and fluidity. They all “…approach gender not as a fixed set of categories, but rather something to be challenged, reconsidered and in some cases rejected all together.” (Exhibition Guide)

It’s always an amazing experience going to this sort of exhibition because it’s like glimpsing other people’s imaginations. Their views of the world and how they interpret things are always intriguing. Mind you, sometimes the visions are so disturbing you kind of wish you’d never looked.

This was true of a video installation by Jenkin van Zyl called Looners (2019). It was a vision best left unseen or experienced though, for some reason, I managed to watch the entire thing rather than give up after a while. That says something for the power of the piece. It was definitely extraordinary but terrifying with it.

My favourite pieces were two sculptures made from found objects. When I showed Mirinda she declared they looked like bits of rubbish…which they originally were though that wasn’t her point. They were by Nicholas Hlobo and included Jong’ emva rhamncwa ndini (2017). Nicholas is an African artist who gives his works Xhosa titles rather than use English in order to “…chip away at [colonialisms] dominance, little by little.” [Exhibition Catalogue]

Actually, I loved the whole thing. It was gloriously diverse, intriguing and enjoyable; a glimpse, as I said, into other peoples’ imaginations. Also I just loved revisiting the Hayward.

Mind you, the rain didn’t stop and the guys with the high pressure hoses merely added to the wet. But this couldn’t possibly dampen my interest. I came away with a new appreciation of what gender can mean, be or suffer.

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