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September 18, 2006 | by  | in Opinion |
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Academic Idol : Round Nine

This competition gets lonelier and lonelier… and this week we say goodbye to Matt Wagner. Your pointed political message was appreciated by us here at Salient, but as is often the case with political messages in the entertainment arena, you must fall on your sword as it did not catch on with voting public. Thank-you for taking part, Mr. Wagner. You were a contender for the podium and acquitted yourself brilliantly.

Remember to get out and vote this week. We’re at a stage where the competition could literally go four ways. For once, we have no idea who is in for the boot next week. One person too lazy to vote could mean curtains for your favourite lecturer. Votes to (021) 169 4608 or editor@salient. org.nz.

This week we got our lecturers to get down with gender bending. The male dominated competition were asked:
“What would you be like if you were a woman?”

Peter Gainsford (Classics)

Some things wouldn’t change if I were a woman. If I were a woman, I’d still never wear high heels. If I were a woman, I’d still eat chocolate on a daily basis. If I were a woman, I’d still worry about my weight. If I were a woman, I’d still be pedantic about using subjunctives in unfulfilled conditional clauses.

But if I were a woman I’d be able to do line integrals in my head, since I would have finished my major in maths instead of switching to Greek and Latin. If I were a woman, I’d be a mezzo. If I were a woman, my name would be Josephine. If I were a woman, I’d go into business for myself. If I were a woman I’d have a cat, since (odds are) my genes would be different enough that I wouldn’t be allergic to them any more. If I were a woman, I’d run and row. If I were a woman, I’d drink merlot instead of shiraz. If I were a woman, I’d move to Portugal or Bulgaria, buy a vineyard, and grow wine. If I were a woman, I’d laugh more. But I’m not a woman.

John McDowall (Psychology)

OK I wake up to find that I’m a woman, something that hasn’t happened before. Never. My girlfriend is looking at me in a strange way, but I’m concerned to see that she doesn’t seem that worried. How to live? How to be true to my inner self? How to walk in those heels?

I feel my first duty is to get in touch – so to speak – with my feminine side. That said I’m mindful of P. J. O’Rourke’s comment that in the world there are certain mechanical devices that have been devised to increase sexual arousal in women, like the Mercedes Benz 367 Convertible. I, on the other hand, as a born again woman, am more interested in a smaller model; the one that retails at D-Vice (on the corner of Ghuznee and Willis streets), for about $30 and which only requires two AA batteries. My women friends tell me, however, that they should never be used in the bath, because apparently, if you do you can end up coming and going at the same time. It’s not going to be easy being a woman. I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m working on it though and it’s beginning to feel good. Although I think my bum is starting to look big.

David McLauchlan (Law)

For goodness sake, I don’t know what “I” would be like if I were a woman because I would no longer be “me”! I’d be a new identity, as different psychologically as physically. My best guess is that I’d be like my four sisters – gorgeous and talented! (Brownie points here, eh?) At least I’d have more hair! Also I’d probably get fewer speed camera tickets. And, since women have four times more neurons connecting the right and left side of their brains, I’d really be able to do three things at once. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be a uni graduate, young women from my town in the 60s were expected to take secretarial courses. Even if I went to uni, I would not have done law – there was only one woman in the 1966 first-year class at Vic. And, even if I did law and became an academic, I wouldn’t have made professor at an early age. Women academics had, and still have, a much harder task to establish their credentials.As recent studies confirm, the unfortunate stereotype of men as “authoritative knowers” and women as “handmaiden teachers” still persists, particularly amongst students (of both genders). Indeed, the fact that this competition started out with twelve male lecturers is surely revealing!

Sean Redmond (Film)
SEAN/SHEENA

If I were a woman I would be an aging punk rocker called Sheena. I would have pierced genitalia and tattooed breasts. I would be proud of my super-deluxe, multiaction vibrator. I would wear too much dark eye shadow and black vinyl dresses far too short. My peroxide platinum blonde hair would be deliciously trashy. I would still go to gigs. I would throw my red, silk knickers at Iggy Pop as he gave his final encore. And in spite of myself I would starve myself to stay thin.

If I were a woman I would be a wild, Irish, whiskey drinking Colleen. There would be no song, no melody, no rebel song that I couldn’t or wouldn’t sing. No man would be my match. No man-made bureaucracy or prison could hold me or control me or pacify me. I would be real clever with words putting a spell on tongue-twisted idiots who got in my way. And yet all alone, and in spite of myself, I would starve myself to stay thin.

If I were a woman I would do more than just think about how shitty the world can be for women. I would stand shoulder-toshoulder with my sisters and rally hard against the domestic violence metered out on other women. I would want to change history into herstory, flaneur into flaneuse, object into subject. I would bleed for the right to say this. And yet all alone, looking at myself through a mirror darkly, I would starve myself to stay thin.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (19)

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  1. karen randell says:

    a most wonderfully poetic submission from sean/sheena – clearly a sister-in-arms…

  2. Joshi, Caitlin and little Erin says:

    Our Dad always wears red, silk knickers at home…. go Dad……

  3. Sean/Sheena says:

    … only on Friday nights when you are supposed to be sleeping…
    em… you are not awake when… o my God…. aghhhhhh!

  4. Jaded says:

    Well i hate to say BUT.

    If you were a man you could be an aging punk rocker with pierced genitalia and tattooed breasts. You might be called Iggy Pop or have man breasts but you could.

    If you were a man you could stand shoulder to shoulder with the sisters and rally hard against the domestic violence metered out to women. In fact you i would probably vote for you if you did.

    And yes, you can still starve yourself to be thin. . .

  5. Sean/Sheena says:

    Dear Jaded,

    As most of my students, friends, family and colleagues know the issue of domestic violence is very important to me. As is the issue of the ‘tyranny of slenderness’ that haunts our image obsessed culture. The issue of weight haunts me personally.

    Nonetheless, my response this week is a mixture of self-reflexivity, performativity and fiction, caught as I am in the headlights of the game show aesthetic. Each of my personas is a take on a gender archetype and the recurring refrain of the desire to control one’s weight an attempt to complicate gender identity. I wanted to implicate myself in the passivity of power relations not least because a great deal of men out there remain passive to the issue. I am sorry if I caused you, or any one else interested in these issues, offence.

    How did you know I have man breasts? I have been campaigning for man-bras for a decade or so…

    Take care,
    Sean/Sheena

  6. Laura says:

    Oh gosh Sean/Sheena should win just for ‘being’ a punk rocker.
    With flowers in his/her hair.

  7. Ngaire Lavery says:

    John McDowall for Idol

  8. Jen says:

    This Sheena character is getting far too much attention, what I want to know is how many women have just come back from D-vice and are running their bath….

    GO JOHN…!

  9. Richard Matthews says:

    the comp is a farce with people deleting cookies and repeat voting. Salient should can it NOW!!!

  10. We are working on it!

    Next week, addresses will be locked by IP address. And people will not be able to view results.

    Internet votes will be discounted this week. And the 200 or so text or email votes will be the only thing used to etermine winers and losers.

    Sad though, that a few people can try and ruin things.

    A successful competition so far, and the fake votes need to stop. And fool no one (when we have a 1000 hits on the website in an hour we know). We aint CNN. We hope to put this behind us next week.

  11. Nick says:

    RIchard, it’s a bit of fun. You don’t get to be president or anything. You need to calm down man.

  12. You can’t lock by IP address – many students probably vote from SCS computers which each have individual, constant IP addresses…

  13. Ari says:

    Peter you can’t be a mezzo, and you can’t have a cat (you’re allergic), but you can do all the rest!

  14. Peter says:

    Why can’t I be a mezzo??! (I certainly wouldn’t be a soprano – as a male I’m a high baritone or low tenor …)

  15. fandango says:

    discount internet votes? watch out for the fun police lol – fix your system

  16. torchy blane says:

    john –
    if you were a woman, you and your $30 dvice model would be welcome in my boudoir any day.

    love, torchy

  17. o_o says:

    If you do not vote for JOHN MCDOWALL. MY ACADEMIC HERO, NOT IDOL PLZ. I will find out your email address, hunt down your I.P address. Locate you IRL AND KILLLLL YOOOUUU. OR THROW SOMETHING AT YOU. =@
    John 4tw!

  18. Asriel says:

    Peter should win this!

    Although, Peter, I don’t see why you would want to be a mezzo. Apparently your tenor is “lovely”.

  19. Asriel says:

    o_o, O_O. That’s all there is to say about that!

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