Episode 2 in ‘Taboo Week’ examines the struggles of gay surfers and the surfing subculture and also a revealing look into the workings of a BDSM master/slave relationship. But before that the main headline of the news was the very public arrest of former detective Roger Rogerson over the alleged murder of uni student Jamie Gao. Rogerson’s lawyer Paul Kenny states that there will be an official formal complaint over the handling of his arrest and how it was made into a media spectacle. Considering how much attention this case has been receiving over the last three days it wouldn’t surprising if it ends up turning into an “Underbelly” spin-off like the team suggested.
The first taboo topic examined is the surfing community and its gay minority. They’re so minor that they’re almost invisible. Like many other sporting codes it’s difficult for gay people to feel accepted and safe to be open about their sexuality on and off the field. It seems that amongst Australia and the world, surfing is one of the few codes where there isn’t even an openly gay professional in its ranks. Thomas, the director of a soon to be released documentary titled ‘Out In The Line’ which examines the gay surfing subculture breaks it down. “When we went to try to interview professional surfers …and all these bodies governing the sport of surfing … we realised they didn’t want to talk about it, it’s their job to talk about these issues”. Considering the recent controversy over openly gay NFL star Michael Sam and him kissing his partner on live American TV, there clearly is still plenty of barriers to break down about the idea of being an openly gay athlete.
For Australia, surfing is such an integral part of our culture and history and for us as a society we really should be examining how we treat gay people. Stopping use of derogatory terms like “faggot” might seem like such a small thing but it can make such a huge impact on the lives of those who were the targets of such terms. Two of our interviewees Dave and Adam both reveal how growing up it was difficult for them to not only accept their sexuality but to even be open about it amongst their friends and surfing mates. That reconciling the lifestyle of a surfer and their sexuality was also problematic. Adam sums it up nicely though “If I was a straight surfer, I wouldn’t sit here and say I’m a straight surfer. I want to get to a point where that shit doesn’t matter, I want the best wave that comes through …. That’s what’s on my mind out there, not oh I wonder if they know I’m gay …I’m hungry for waves and that’s all that matters”. Surely with so many of us now being more accepting of gay people and even campaigning for gay rights like marriage equality, we can focus on the skills of the surfer rather than their sexuality?
‘Master’s Girl’ is our next segment and it examines what it’s really like to be part of a master/slave relationship. Not the traditional form of slavery but the more modern-day idea of completely being dominated by a person in your relationship. Joe and Kim Debron are almost like any other middle-aged married couple, almost. The key difference is they are in a master/slave relationship. Kim’s life is all about serving Joe, referring to him by Master or Sir, doing menial tasks for him and making his life easier. Joe’s life is about looking after Kim and “not breaking his toy”. Their relationship is built on complete and utter acceptance of trust of both parties. Hmmm, I can think of a whole heap of feminists who will be burning their bras and howling with anger after watching this, and that’s not even getting into any of the sexual stuff.
Supposedly Kim claims that it’s the most freedom in a relationship she’s ever had, the logic stemming from the fact that her sole responsibility in life is to look after Joe, that she doesn’t have to bear the burden of being a single parent anymore, she only does what she’s told by Joe. Personally though I think that sort of complete subjugation is unhealthy and raises questions about morality, ethics and psychology. As a race we’ve progressed so far in allowing every single person equal rights, and to be treated with dignity. As women, we’ve had to push even harder for those rights, and to this day there’s still a level of inequality in society for women. Kim might enjoy the idea of being a consensual slave and being dominated by her man, but it’s definitely not a popular or mainstream way of thinking. I’ll say this much though, it’s definitely a taboo topic and a very controversial and debatable one at that.
To wrap things up for the evening the good news for the day pertains to China’s new efforts to try and decrease their insanely awful pollution levels. The Chinese Government is trying to rid its roads of awful stinky old cars that spew out loads of pollution by offering small subsidies to those who surrender their old vehicles for destruction. This as well as minimising the amount of new licences they issue out in an attempt to try and reduce their pollution and carbon footprint. It’s probably not going to make a huge dent but at least it’s something, and in a country that has such a ridiculously high proportion of population and vehicles per capita, it’s worth a shot.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Feed airs Monday – Thursday 7:30pm (repeated at 10:30pm) on SBS2