Abasement not required

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Written by:

I shed my little tear for she-for-whom-I was-named a week ago.  I am now well over it, and over the media’s obsession with every detail of the ceremony, the crowds and the impending gathering of world leaders to see off Queen Elizabeth.

I have been yawning my way through the TV news (there is only so many queues of people waiting to view the coffin that I can bear), but one thing did make me sit up, take notice, and express my concern by hanging from the chandelier and screaming.

And that, you will not be surprised to read, was the sight of our own wahine toa, curtsying at the coffin.  In case you missed it, Jacinda and Cindy, PM and GG, inexplicably reinvented that obsequious form of class and gender abasement, in front of the dead Queen

The curtsy is a particular form of oppression, combining both class and gender indignities.  The class element is the need to humble oneself before one’s monarch at all. The gendered element was the particular form of degradation, the curtsy.

Going back a couple of hundred years, women were expected to perform a curtsy to all their betters.  This meant men and any women of a higher class than you.  Unless you were in the top 10,000, when you were only required to curtsy to men of the same class, titled people and royalty.

I was taught to curtsy ‘properly’ at the age of ten, when the Queen Mother was paying a visit to our school as our patron.  It was quite a good day – we were exempt some lessons, and the beastly fare that was our food was changed up for a bang-up roast chicken dinner.  Not only that, we had a ‘rehearsal’ dinner a week in advance to make sure we all knew how to eat proper food.  I can’t remember what we had for pudding. Probably treacle tart and custard.  Yum. Sorry about being on about the food.  We were always hungry. It turned out later that the caterer was skimming the books, leaving us with shrivelled hunks of fat covered in gravy as our main fare.

I found the photo and have put it above.  This was my only brush with royalty until Harry and Meghan visited Pillars in Auckland a few years ago.

But I digress. The proper form of the curtsy is to put your right foot behind your left foot and bend your knees outward and sink down gracefully, keeping your back straight, until your knees nearly touch the ground.

Jacinda and Cindy did it.  Not to the ground, thank goodness, but a proper curtsy.  And I want to know why.  Because, frankly, us modern women do not curtsy.  A nod of the head, even a slight momentary lean forward, is quite enough.

And I wondered whether it was the same palace officials, a bunch of Nazis if ever there was one, who are delighting in their power at this moment to tell Harry when he can wear his bloody uniform, who told our wimmin that they should curtsy.

And that the oppression, the grandeur, the sheer pageantry of the event prevented our reps from doing the proper kiwi thing, and replying “up your nose” or some other suitably kiwi rejoinder, and move on.

2 Responses

  1. 30% of the Brits want a republic, but they don’t get 30% of the media time. I think we have had wall to wall coverage of this whether we like it or not, the number of media who have gone from Aotearoa to Britain is pretty nuts.

    Harry, well be bragged about killing people in Afghanistan – says it all. They are bunch of grasping, greedy, entitled gits and the sooner we are rid of them the better.

  2. On Radio NZ yesterday there were comments made about how totally over the top the coverage has been. All those TV and radio presenters over there.

    I feel it has all been rammed down our throat and sycophantic nonsense. The only thing I liked was seeing Charlie loose his rag writing the wrong date and using a fountain pen that was leaking. I hope he has found a better pen now.

    I have more time for the cleaner at the hospital on low wages going home at 5pm having worked hard all day, wondering whether she has enough to feed her family on tonight.

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About Insight Aotearoa

Most of the blogs published here will either respond to initiatives elsewhere or will be ‘newsmaking’. Some will also be reflective in more general terms. The blogs will be topical and interesting. I like to inject some humour into my blogs.

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