Tuesday, 20 March 2007

A different point of view

"That foolish wife who makes a slave of her husband, is after all known as the wife of a slave only! The wise wife makes a god of her husband and is herself called a goddess."

My girlfriend took a friend of hers to a play a couple of nights ago. She was very excited about it in the days leading up to the performance saying that it had been advertised on the radio and loads of people would be going. Apparently, it was all to do with the duties of a good wife. Could be a good plot for a satire, I thought.

She then went on to say that the play would illustrate a number of commandments to be observed by a good wife.

The commandments included such things as the requirement for the Good Wife to ensure that His clothes were all washed and pressed in time for His, presumably unpredictable, departure. That His food should be served on time (ready for His unpredictable return) and naturally be Haute Cuisine. A reminder that on the farm, it is the cockerel that crows; and also that in the case of an undisciplined mind, it is the body that suffers. That when He speaks, the Good Wife listens and obeys.

If this wasn't to be a satire, then I would positively encourage my girlfriend to go.

The last time I went to any sort of theatre in Africa was to a cinema in Quelimane, Mozambique. The film was about a group of Caucasians who were unfortunate enough to survive a plane crash in some Godforsaken jungle only to be subsequently roasted and eaten by the natives. So soon after the end of a bloody civil war widely acknowledged by the population as having been prosecuted by avaricious Caucasians, the film went down very well. As the only Caucasian in the audience, and well illuminated I might add by the reflected glow of the screen, I began to feel like one of those hobbled chickens I saw every day for sale by the roadside. Not an experience I would want to repeat by being the only male member of an outraged female audience if the play was not a satire. Instead I arranged to meet the girls at the Chinese restaurant afterwards.

Either way, satire or not, this play was going to be a window on Angolan society. If it were a satire, then it would mark a new step towards the emancipation of women in a male orientated society. If it weren’t, it would be a shocking endictement of the treatment of women in general. I was keen, therefore, to gauge the reaction of the girls.

My girlfriend thought it was brilliant.

‘But was it a serious play or a comedy?’

‘Oh, it was hilarious.’

‘But serious hilarious or just so stupid you had to laugh?’

‘It was funny, you know, funny.’

I turned to her friend.

‘They just roared.’


‘When the wife beating started, I couldn't believe it, the audience just roared with laughter.’ She continued, ‘It was bizarre.’

I should have gone myself, of course. Unless my girlfriend or her friend care to go into greater detail, I am still unsure of the real purpose of the play.

Still, it was great fun to see the pair of them, not outright feminists (but I am sure that had I said anything crass and sexist, one would have held me down while the other stabbed a chopstick in my eye), laughing about a play that graphically portrayed wife beating.

Odd isn’t it. If I had made light of wife beating, I would have suffered a particularly brutal form of acupuncture using any of the implements to hand on the restaurant table. Yet amongst themselves, the two girls were laughing. They could see the funny side of what to me is quite a dark and terrible thing. I did not see the play so don’t ask me what could possibly have been funny about it. Evidently, however, there must have been something that tickled them. Sitting at the table, though, and watching them chatter away, I realised that whites can joke about whites, blacks about blacks, homosexuals about gays and Catholics about Catholics and so on but if one was to cross out of his own group and laugh at a member of the other, he is a bigot, a racist, a homophobe. Angola may not yet have found anything to laugh about its colonial history and the horrors of the civil war but this, surely has to be a start. If they can laugh at what in Angolan society has always been set in stone, the right of the male to be master of his house, then maybe soon, they can start laughing at other things too. Culturally, that makes them more advanced than the old world. The life expectancy of a Frenchman walking into an Islington pub and taking the piss out of ‘Le Boefs’ would have been markedly less than that of a first world war fighter pilot. Would it have been possible to perform such a play in politically correct Britain?

It occurred to me that the march toward political correctness has done more to perpetuate the bigotry and resultant isolation of so many ‘marginalised’ groups than immigration quotas, the British National Party or neo Nazis ever could. Marginalised by whom? The very groups that through the legislation they have foisted upon us to protect ‘minorities’ mean that we will never see the likes of Dave Allen or Benny Hill again. When Lenny Henry spoke about ‘Snowflakes’ and ‘Honkies’, I was never offended, I laughed my cock off.

Rather than force us to like each other, which has always been a damn good way to ensure that we hate each other, why not encourage us to laugh at each other? If we can cross racial and cultural boundaries with tears of mirth in our eyes, who needs PC?

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading your blog. I also posted your thoughts on PC on another's blog:

    Its under 'Jane'
    Keep posting!


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