A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2007, vol 3 no 4

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Sharon Dean


His Brilliant Career

There's a grimy feel to our local pub, the reek of stale beer.

"Umm, just a red lemonade and a gin & tonic, please. Oh, and a packet of barbecue chips."

Yet, when it rains on a Thursday night, this is where I hang out with my twelve-year-old son while his little brother practises flying sidekicks and inner-forearm blocks in the martial arts dojo next door.

"Why's it so noisy in that other room?" Ashlin asks, stirring up a cloud of red cordial from the bottom of his lemonade.

We're in the dining area. The adjoining room houses the main bar with its pool tables and gambling facilities.

"It's lingerie night," I reply.

Ashlin stops stirring. "What's lingerie night?"

tinkle of ice
sucking the flesh
of sliced lemon

I could give my son the short answer or the feminist lecture. An image of an ex-colleague pops into my head. A man with a serious porn addiction, he's more inclined to comment on a woman's bra size than her compassion, intelligence or sense of humour. Intent on raising a son who'll grow up respecting women as friends and individuals, I decide on the feminist lecture.

"Lingerie Night, my beautiful little friend, is when a couple of underfed uni students earn a few bucks by stripping down to their knickers and bringing the blokes their beer. It's what gives this pub its red-necked reputation. Once every couple of weeks, middle-aged men with pot bellies and flushed faces flock here so they can sit around leering at half-naked young women tottering across the smelly carpet in dangerously high heels."

My son stares blankly at my face.

"Lingerie night , my dear child, is a sexist tradition. You know what that means? It's a practice based on the belief that one sex is inferior to the other. And you know how you can tell it's sexist? The women are defined sexually in terms of what pleases the men."

"Skewse me," says a waitress. Plates of grilled barramundi sail over our heads. Ashlin still hasn't batted an eyelid.

"The reverse, of course, could be equally true. If you were to dress a couple of men in teensy undies, strap glittery stilettos to their feet and toss them a few dollars to serve beer to a group of unpleasantly lustful women, you would be objectifying the men–in other words, you'd be treating your lingerie boys as objects rather than people.

I lean back from the table, satisfied with my impromptu monologue.

Ashlin waits one beat. Without cracking a smile, informs me: "There goes my future."

Britney's boobs
on flat-screen TV
plastic plants