As a feminist, I struggle with the Spring Racing Carnival.
Rather, I struggle with Spring Racing Carnage: beautifully (half) dressed women sitting in a gutter throwing up on their feet as the sun goes down. The same poor, pearly-painted feet that have been torn up by strappy stilettos and frankly, have suffered enough without the indignity of a shower of regurgitated pinot grigio.
We've all had a little too much to drink on occasions.
We've all had a little vom on our shoes on our way to breakfast.
We've all been a pin-up for a public service announcement at one time or another.
But I'm increasingly terrified of a national festival in which women (apparently) willingingly submit themselves to the humiliation of ill-fitting pastels, oppressive razor-wire footwear, sundry mating paint and plumage (including actual plumage), cat-calls from boozed post-private-school bottom-feeders, alcohol poisoning, sunburn and regret.
Countless news reports, breakfast television segments and images 'Live From Trackside' show women frolicking with bottles of sparkling and squealing with glee as their painstakingly selected body-shaping lingerie strains to contain their enthusiasm for an event that has become a beacon for anyone who wants to get boozed and grab an eyeful (and often a handful) of the opposite sex.
I see these women and I think (ok, and sometimes say): "Why do it to yourselves? Hey, why do it to ALL OF US?" Why play into a caricature that owes more to an American 'Girls Gone Wild' video than the worst that 'Ladette to Lady' has to offer? It's disturbing that the Spring Racing Carnival seems synonymous with women wearing low self-esteem like a jaunty bespoke hat.
Some might say that this is a generalisation of the experience of women at the races; that it is a dignified past-time where grace and elegance are des rigeur; that it is, in fact, fun.
I accept that not everyone who goes to the Spring Racing Carnival ends up in disgrace.
But the over-representation of women cowering at the tramstop with mascara running down their faces, crying into their mobile phones is undeniable: we must pause and consider our role in perpetuating this yearly ritual of humiliation.
Being sick is not fun.
Being leered at or grabbed does not constitute a rollicking good time.
Crying is distressing whether or not it is amplified by booze. Finding your way home when you're not at your best is hard. Relating to strangers when you don't have your wits about you is at its best embarrassing and at its worst down right dangerous.
So, next time that you're thinking about buying a dress, putting on a terrifying hair piece, tottering around in pinching heels and writing yourself off at a horse race (really?), consider your sisters who are going to be gingerly stepping over you on the footpath in a few hours, hopefully offering you a cab fare and a tissue, but possibly walking away and leaving you to the best a night on concrete can offer. Have a good time by all means, but take care of yourself and think about what you are saying about you and your sex before you neck that next Yellow at the Spring Disgracing Carnival.
Amy Stockwell lives in Melbourne and has a lot of opinions. She writes about some of them.