I fess up. I too have been called Yummy. Not, sadly, as a stand-alone noun but as an adjective in what I still consider the endearing term of ‘Yummy Mummy’. This came from a group of verbal abusers — my gorgeous daughters and their friends both boy and girl when they were still at school. And I was pretty chuffed by this compliment as were other mothers who were also awarded the Yummy Mummy appellation by their offspring. It was a compliment then and should be now as our young recognised that we had kept active, kept our minds and our bodies alive and they were proud of us.
A few years later, with our young just out of school, we had progressed to MILFs which I won’t define here because my daughters, their friends and my friends’ daughters, sons and mates might now end up in court or worse. Both terms were cheeky, fun and given as compliments. That was in the days – those long ten or so years ago – when young men and women still had fun with words, played games with social maxims and were developing social skills to beguile, amuse and entertain themselves, friends and family.
This was before the thought police took over. I can only think the recruits for this police force come from the socially outcast. Those not included in the fun or invited to the parties. How did this happen in cheeky, flippant Australia? When did we start losing our best attribute, our sense of humour?
For humour was what an unprecedented court drama is about. Humour even used to break the tension of one of the most grief-driven scenes that can be performed on any stage. Humour delivered by a world-famous actor who used to teach comedy and clowning at NIDA before the film Shine shined a light on his considerable other talents.
So, instead of a young woman learning the most she could in stage and acting craft from one of the world’s best, we have allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” – inappropriate behaviour by a tall willowy bloke in his late sixties who must have struggled to carry her apparently lifeless body across the stage.
I watched as he put a hand under her armpit which was there, right beside her breast (as it usually is) and another under her knees. No complaint about sexual transgressions with her knee however as she would not have got the media attention but is a knee less attractive than an armpit? I would think to the contrary.
The actor in question may have also traced the lines of her body with a hand much as artists such as Rodin, Donatello, Michelangelo, da Vinci and Picasso traced body contours and alignments of the young men and women they sculpted and painted to understand the outline and turn it into great art, much like we do as we run a hand over a beautiful horse or down the back of a cat. This theatrical appreciation of beauty that took place during a performance on a public stage in front of a team of performance personnel has been called out as assault.
I actually know the bloke involved. Well, I did, when we were both at uni in Brisbane and in a weekly ABC weekly show about being young. There were some who acted and some who commented on the acted scenarios. He acted and I ended up commenting and, even then, at nineteen or so he was just phenomenal.
He wasn’t a hunk though. He wasn’t the guy standing there waiting for his toned body and good looks to make him appealing. He was a tall, skinny strip of a bloke with a great wit and perfect manners that he knew how to use to beguile, not sexually intimidate. I don’t believe that you can change that sort of fabric. It is why he is now so devastated by the accusations that have been fuelled by his use of a totally innocuous word, “yummy”, as a compliment.
Just imagine what would have happened if he had given her a wolf whistle! Called her “a spunk rat”. In my day a girl getting a wolf whistle used to make her day. Now the whistler would lose his job and face harassment charges.
What a dour, sexless, stitched-up world of words we live in today which means I probably can’t aspire to being a Yummy Granny – all because a young woman has been taught to look for the sexual intention behind harmless human actions and awkward compliments.
As the scope of the tragedy of The Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear spreads beyond the stage and into the media and a courtroom it is appropriate that we all consider the ramifications of the global #MeToo roller coaster.
For the real tragedy is that not only the reputation and career of one of Australia’s and the world’s greatest actors been dragged down by this but there is another victim – the young woman at its centre. Her future career choices will be forever affected as few will, metaphorically, want to touch her.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.