Just as my comprehension of sexual development came via a picture book strategically placed on my bed one afternoon, my introduction to sexual politics was similarly outsourced.
Broadcast in 1980, The Worm That Turned was a serial within the popular British TV skit show The Two Ronnies.
For eight long weeks, the "dystopian" tale imagined a 2012 where women were in charge of England and men, wearing floral dresses and aprons, answered to such names as "Betty" and "Janet" and were doomed to a life of domesticity.
Replete with sophisticated gender-bending gags (Big Ben becomes Big Brenda, the Union Jack Union Jill and the Tower of London Barbara Castle - okay, that is funny), the serial opened my naive eyes to the concept of a gender divide.
No doubt, Margaret Atwood - in Canada, where British television was as much part of the cultural furniture as in Australia - was herself tuning in, as we followed a fascist society from which members of an oppressed gender dreamed of escaping across the border to the asylum of an enlightened and tolerant neighbour (Wales).
And no doubt Atwood tuned right out again when subjected to the PVC hot pants of the buxom state police force and the writers' none-too-subtle message - wrapped so cleverly in that get-of-jail genre of spoof - women's liberation was all a bit ridiculous and just gagging to be taken down a peg or two.
Indeed, at the heart of this "satire" was Margaret Thatcher's rise to power only 12 months earlier.
The program, like all that Benny Hill dross, The Goon Show's campy tropes, the puerile Carry On franchise, the racist Love Thy Neighbour, even a greater proportion of cringe-inducing content dribbling from the revered Monty Python stable than we'd care to admit, was "of a different time" and it's almost as if such productions had to exist to serve as a touchstone of bad taste, so we, the evolved inhabitants of a self-aware, social media-savvy future (a genuine dystopia), could hold them up as examples of the dark age of chauvinistic wit, or lack thereof.
It must be said, however, there were threads of brilliance running through many of these pioneering broadcasts and, at the risk of objectifying Ronnies Barker (OBE) and Corbett (CBE), I loved the big fat one's talent for wordplay very much and the little ugly one's engaging monologues were a sheer delight to a TV-obsessed kid stretched across a lounge room floor on the other side of the planet.
There appears to be real affection out there for both dead comedians, an affection which manages to shield them from the 21st-century criticism levelled at many of their contemporaries.
Even the exploitative feminazi uniform of those state police officers has reportedly been embraced by some sections of the gay community, not that every member of that cohort would be quite so forgiving.
MORE B. R. DOHERTY:
A Paris city councillor, academic, activist and author called Alice Coffin suggests in her new book, Lesbian Genius, that women, in order to reach their true potential, should eradicate men from their lives.
Firstly, as a man (admittedly one listening to Kate Bush while writing this), I'd simply say to Coffin, "Bravo".
Yes, we're flat-out appalling and many of us, plagued by the gnawing enormity of what we've done to the past, are doing to the present and will do to the future, look at ourselves in the mirror like Leonard Cohen's "golden boy" and secretly wish the next pandemic will target the XY chromosome, so Mother Earth can reach her true potential (and at least we'll get out of the mowing).
As we wait in hope for such divine/biological intervention, Coffin is suggesting women pass the time by mounting a kind of pogrom on masculine creativity and "erase" men from their minds.
"I don't read books by men anymore," Coffin writes. "I don't watch their movies; I don't listen to their music ..."
It's an intriguing challenge. Would we be so worse off without the blokes?
I reckon I could manage it for a while but know I'd (Nick) cave pretty quickly.
I do tend to read more females than males; musically, it would be about 50-50, but women filmmakers are woefully underrepresented in my DVD collection, a sad indictment on a supposed movie buff's development, not to mention on an entire industry, considering the golden years of Hollywood were lousy with female creative talent and influence.
Coffin's challenge is a worthy one but I fear she is the victim of her own sapphic bellicosity because by turning away from men, we consign ourselves, like regretful ghosts, to a cultural half-life.
It's one thing to flush a Bieber from your brain but an entirely different proposition a Beethoven, a Beatle or a Bowie should go out with the bathwater as well.
For every Dickens, there may be a Didion, for every de Kooning an O'Keeffe, for every Capra a Campion, but to take sides, to be made to choose, is akin to a child being forced to decide which parent to live with.
When women (or men) are being dudded, the battle of the sexes should most certainly stray into the realm of culture, such as the creation of the Stella Prize in - spookily enough - 2012, to reclaim Miles Franklin's real name and give Australia's female writers the recognition they deserve.
But a hair-shirted abstinence from the hairer (fact check?) half of the arts is to deny ourselves the very essence, the very yin and yang, of creative enterprise.
Right or wrong, we all bring our various histories; our prejudices and failings and traumas to the table of storytelling, which is precisely why it's such a messy and glorious cornucopia of reflected life.
Gender is perhaps most fundamental of all the pillars of experience and one suspects the films of the Coen Brothers, for example, would be far different from those of the Coen Sisters.
In fact, it's a scenario we've rather wonderfully been able to witness as Larry and Andy Wachowski became Lana and Lilly Wachowski (the hidden code of their desire for transition evidently scrolling within the metadata of The Matrix all along).
While men are frequently terrible and repeat offenders in crimes against culture (Rob Schneider responsible for most of them) we are capable of self-improvement, and it's interesting to note that after his skit show, Ronnie Corbett's next outing was a gentle and wry TV series about a much-flawed 40-something still living with his parents.
It was called Sorry!
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