Dear Hannah Gadsby [December 12]
Dear Hannah Gadsby,
I nearly died last week. I was driving home in my campervan when a tow-truck came careening towards me at high speed. I hit the horn, we both hit the brakes and his truck stopped an inch away from my door. Through the window I lip-read ‘you f#*@ing c#@t!’ Then he climbed out of the cabin and hammered violently on my door, shouting ‘use your f#@*ing eyes, you f@#*ing bitch!’
As I drove away, hands still trembling, I decided to write about that man, and how he reminded me of the man who once kicked a massive dent in my car door because he didn’t like the look of my passenger. Then I would move on to the man who punched a hole in a wall as I was leaving a party, because I wasn’t leaving with him.
That would lead on to the two men who bailed me up at a train station and grabbed at my dress. And the three men who stole my Esky in a caravan park and who, when I confronted them, chased me back to my campervan.
By the time I got home, though, I’d changed my mind. The Sunday Age readers wouldn’t want to hear about my experiences with dodgy men, especially not the male readers. Stories of men behaving badly have been all over the media in the last couple of months – #metoo, #notallmen – enough already.
No, I would write something cheerful. Something about New Year’s resolutions, or how I’ve given up ironing. Something quirky and self-deprecating.
That night, Hannah, I went to see your one-woman comedy show ‘Nanette’. I laughed as you described a bloke at a bus stop telling you to ‘back off’ from his girlfriend because he thought you were a man. I stopped laughing when you told us that you’d always left out the ending of that self-deprecating story.
When you described how the same man beat you black and blue that night, I stopped breathing. When you revealed the other things men had done to you as a child, I felt sick.
And when you promised your audience that you wouldn’t be editing your stories just to get a laugh any more, because true stories like these need to be told, I changed my mind again.
The next day I wrote this column for you.
(This column was first published by Fairfax in December 2017)