on saturday night, i went to an african music evening at ceres, an ex-dump that’s been reclaimed by a community group (read environmentalists and hippies) and transformed into an environmental park. it was a warm night, pretty much made for dancing outside on the grass. i noted, not for the first time, that most australian men unless they happen to have a latino or african background or are gay (to broadly stereotype), are almost completely unable to move their hips when they dance. Which is a pity because looking at the african men on stage, there’s a completely new vocabulary of very attractive and very groovy movement just out there for those guys brave enough to learn it.

on sunday, i headed to the beach at black rock, a beach called half-moon bay. it was the first time in ages that i’d been to one of melbourne’s beaches and it was a good warm day for it, hot enough that the water was warmer than northcote’s unheated outdoor pool was the day before. it was also quite crowded as would be expected. What was more surprising was there were a couple of swimsuit model shoots on the beach that day – both parties seemingly unrelated. A small group of men quickly coalesced around each of the shoots.

Ok, I looked too and most of the other fellas on the beach did but they did so with a bit more subtlety and generally only in passing – as you would with any attractive girl in a very tiny bikini on the beach. the difference was that i and the other guys continued on with our activities whereas these other groups of men stood around or sat down and simply watched – some for over an hour.

They watched with an obvious sexual attention, arousal and focus that I found both threatening and demeaning. threatening because i find that underlying such focused sexual attention is always an element of masculine aggression (and this is something i know from personal experience and also observation), demeaning because i found myself ashamed of these men’s inability to self-monitor and control their lust so much so that what they were doing wasnt all that far removed from masturbating in public.

It struck me that the photoshoot gave implicit permission for these type of men to slip into porn (if soft-porn) mode and what I was seeing was something that generally is only exhibited in such a direct and unmediated form in private or in strip clubs. And I did not like it. I did not like the slack jawed, empty eyed lust I saw in those men. Maybe because it reminded me of elements of myself, maybe because i did not like that there are people out there who are such slaves to their drives, but I think also because I understood for a moment what it would be like to be the focal point of this type of attention.

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