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Here & Now 130: Orgy of gambling, let’s drink

Here & Now 130

Here & Now 130

Lismore. Tuesday, 4pm

A woman in a tight red dress and fascinator steps off the footpath and onto the pedestrian crossing in Woodlark Street. She does so in that awkward way of the high-heeled.

This crippled walk can hide slight inebriation within its inelegant stumblings. Too much to drink, though, and it cannot hide a drunken weave into a shop window or a tipsy tumble into the gutter.

But this isn’t Lismore Cup day when the racing is all day and the drinking even longer; when CBD gutters trap boozy punters like fallen leaves, and they pile up outside pubs, takeaway joints and taxi ranks. This is Melbourne Cup day. The drinking is more confined to luncheons and work parties (unless you’re in Melbourne at the track).

The woman has successfully stepped from the gutter, and is negotiating the crossing.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is said. Well, this beholder’s eye finds the race-day get-up for women graceless and demeaning – poodle-fashion designed by men who enjoy cruelty.

Three suits follow close behind her, chatting and laughing, with their ties undone.

I stop at the crossing. The ABC news theme blasts from the car radio. Four o’clock. A woman has won the big race. History is made. Good on her.

The woman smiles at me, as she totters past. Her face is red; not as red as her lipstick, but redder than a face should be. It could be the reflection off her red dress. Or it could be an alcoholic flush.

A woman has never won a Melbourne Cup before. Not a human woman, anyway, but Makybe Diva, a horse woman (aka mare), won three times. But most Melbourne Cup winners are male horses. Of the 150 winners so far, only 13 were female horses (mares and fillies). It’s a man’s world. There is a price to pay, though: a lot of male winners are gelded.

It could be sunburn, her red face. Fascinators don’t provide much protection from the sun. Plastic flowers, red and black, explode from her head which is a cabbage. Fascinating.

A female (on the back of a male) has won the Cup. The nation stops. The best three minutes of the year. The Melbourne Cup is more than a sporting event; it’s a cultural event unsurpassed in the Australian calendar. Except, perhaps, for Anzac Day.

And we celebrate them both as we do all events – by drinking.

A failed invasion of a foreign country resulting in the wasted lives of many people? Let’s drink. A horse race whose sporting label barely disguises that it is a national orgy of gambling? Let’s drink.

The woman stumbles. Oh oh. (I remember Admire Rakti and Araldo from last year’s Cup. Do you? Cruel business, horse racing.) But she puts her hand onto the Superoo’s bonnet saving herself, the fascinator flowers brushing the paintwork. Her face flushes redder. ‘Sorry,’ she mouths to me, her lipstick cracking.

Good on Ms Payne for winning in a chauvanist business. She’s tough and talented. But the Melbourne Cup degrades women. And horses. It treats them as objects to be dressed up, rated and paraded before men in bland suits.

So, is Payne’s win really an achievement for womankind?

I don’t think so. Women succeeding in cruel male fetishes is not liberation.

The pack of suits laughs at the woman as she regains her precarious footing, one offering her an arm.

When men wear facinators and high heels for Melbourne Cup day; when gelded connections have to run the three kilometres themselves, lungs haemorrhaging, a person on their back; when horses drink champagne and place bets – then we’ll have some equality, something to celebrate.

 

 

 


4 responses to “Here & Now 130: Orgy of gambling, let’s drink”

  1. Serena DOLINSKA says:

    Well observed. Your summing up make me sigh……..if only……if only there was equality….more broadly……if only there was peace and understanding……another sigh…….

  2. Len Heggarty says:

    Fascinating! One shoe might come flying through the air.

  3. Louise says:

    Great article. I support this. If only my husband would too. I keep telling him it’s a BS event but what am I to know? I’m from Canada and we don’t have an official horse racing day so it was never part of my childhood. Hopefully your article will break thru all those “comfort zones”

  4. Steven Frank says:

    Come on, Echo. Seriously, what are you grooming here?!? Don’t expect you’ll publish this, and not surprised. Livin’ the confirmation bias, as usual, Echo drudges!

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