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April 23, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Mulled Whine With H.G. Beattie

Year 7 health classes are a prime opportunity to teach girls about their upcoming breasts.

Hopefully in the nine or so years since I partook, the education system has begun to reflect on the wonders of oestrogen in plastic bottles and rightly aims this ‘pre-emptive strike’ at seven-year olds. Needless to say I wasn’t really engaged with this particular facet of my education. (No teacher is going to tell you that in a few years when you attain menarche—look it up—your father will sing ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ at the dinner table and you’ll bargain with Thor to tie your tubes right then and there.)

I think the more important lesson was buried away somewhere between that cartoon video of the boy with the boner on the diving board and the equally educative Life Education experience. I remember this worksheet  detailing the differences between passive, assertive and aggressive behaviour. Assertive is the optimal one, or so you’re told at eleven, to try and stop you saying to unfortunates, “Let’s play sardines—off you go!” (My past abounds with subtleties.) This was wrong. Assertiveness is productive, but in no way is it as fun as the select combination of passiveness and aggression that first-formers are yet to discover.

Clever-dick passive-aggressives can display their aggression in non-aggressive ways. This could look like procrastination, sullenness, resentment, or failure to accomplish requested tasks for which responsibility is theirs. Sadly, nearly everyone is like this nearly all of the time. Your malodorous kitchen should therefore not be visible from the lounge if you have either a rudimentary knowledge of feng shui or—as I do—anal retentiveness that precludes you from getting on with things when there’s a big fuck-off pile of dishes that someone else should really do sitting on the bench for ages and ages and Goddamn it my palms. Are starting. To sweat.

At home, passive-aggressiveness is characterized by such casually posed questions as “Oh, did no one make it to the vege market?” Sorry, better-looking-than-me flatmate, but you are being quoted. The fridge is clearly empty. I had work. Shall I piggyback you to Metro and buy you a $15 avocado or would you prefer fisticuffs at dawn? That most clichéd form, the passive aggressive note, is a relative rarity at our house. Following last year’s nadir, which saw “can someone please go to the supermarket, as we don’t have any food”, pinned to the fridge. Er…da fuq?

Confront! Don’t shirk the catharsis of giving somebody what for. I grudgingly concede that mature—assertive—confrontation should perhaps be embraced after all. Passivity is unsatisfying and aggression is tiring. And the kid that called Harold the giraffe a retard in year five got asked to leave the caravan. I don’t think I have seen him since.

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