September 2012


Whenever a person makes any of the following statements – the future is female, men are the new weaker sex, masculinity is in crisis, the pendulum has swung too far, the male of the species is becoming redundant etc.* – it is surprisingly hard to mount a challenge. Deep down, you know such people are talking straight out of their arses, but you really don’t want to be the one to say so. First, it sounds mean and unsympathetic. If, for instance, you are a middle-class woman and you’re being compared – somewhat conveniently – to a working-class man, you risk appearing rather uncaring and ungrateful (and that’s before you get onto the standard feminist rant about how positively frightful visiting Waitrose on a Saturday can be). Second, you don’t want to make it look as though you actually believe feminists are merely engaged in an ongoing competition with the patriarchy to win the coveted Crappest Life Cup. Challenging gender stereotyping and power imbalances – and actually proposing change – are rather different activities to splitting the human race into two undifferentiated groups and complaining that your group is the current “loser”. It’s important not to engage in such a stupid argument (even if stupid people have spent years trying to bait you into doing precisely that). So you might think “well, best say nothing – it’d only give them ammunition”. Or perhaps pull a sad face and nod thoughtfully, just to make sure these people get off your case. (more…)

Imagine being so much of a loser that you get out a biro and write the word “winner” on your hand, in a desperate attempt to suppress the knowledge of just how how pathetic you are.  Imagine being so confused and distracted sexually that you consider watching your fave non-sexual  TV programmes – say, Holby City, or perhaps the footie – the perfect accompaniment to orgasm. Imagine taking a photo of a faceless woman giving you a blowjob and tweeting it to 23,000 laddish followers, just so they can raise a glass at your cock being sucked since that’s sure as hell not happening to them. Imagine then then following this up with random tweets offering “respect” to dead soldiers and kids in wheelchairs, just to demonstrate that deep down, you adhere to a mawkish, sentimental “I love ya, bro” code of ethics straight out of a Carlsberg ad. Imagine … Actually, I have no idea why I am asking you to imagine any of this. It’s bad enough that so many lonely male students apparently aspire to live it. (more…)

The dining table, my house, the end of a lovely day

Picture the scene (albeit in a tidier house). My eldest son and I are seated side by side, me with a glass of chardonnay, him with a plate of potato waffles and Dora the Explorer spaghetti. My partner and our youngest are still out doing the weekly shop. It has been a good day and I am feeling proud and motherly. My son looks at me, his fork paused midway to his mouth, pasta flowers a-dangling, and suddenly, out of nowhere, the following conversation ensues:

SON: Mummy, what’s porn? (more…)

Don’t you just hate it when you’re all set to have a grumpy, humourless feminist moment and you happen to find the thing that was meant to annoy you vaguely amusing instead? That totally pisses me off – but not enough to put me in the grumpy, humourless feminist mood I was aiming for to begin with. Pah! (That is about the level of it – a wry smile, then a “pah!”. Where’s the Sturm und Drang in that?)

In case you’re wondering I’m referring to that new “viral” ad for KFC. In It doesn’t count if… a young woman runs through various situations in which eating “forbidden” foods is permitted, all of them ridiculous (it doesn’t count if you drink green tea afterwards, it doesn’t count if you’re wearing gym gear etc. etc.). Ha, thought I, yet another food company making a massively unfunny joke out of women’s shitty relationship with food. I will not find this amusing. But then I did, a bit. It actually is what some women – myself included – do, and as such it’s very well-observed. I suspect the only thing some viewers might miss is that when women say these things, they already know it’s a lie; this is their sad, wry joke, not KFC”s. (more…)

Married ladies! Are you still labouring under the illusion that cleaning the toilet is a joint responsibility? When your husband picks up a dishcloth, do you leave him to it rather than rush forth, Cath Kidston pinny all a-billow, gasping “wait! I’ll do it!”? Does your man put his own underpants in the laundry basket rather than toss them, Christian Grey-like, to the floor? If so, are you aware that you’re risking divorce?

A Norwegian study has revealed that “couples who share the housework are more likely to divorce”. Ha! And there was you, naively assuming it was safe to let your man loose with the Fairy Liquid. Alas, you’ll be heading to splitsville quicker than you can say “decree nisi”. Of course, the press have latched upon this finding with liberal horror, and not the slightest trace of sexist glee. “So much for equality!” squeals the Daily Mail, while the UK blog Divorce Online offers a not-particularly-tongue-in-cheek “ladies, know your place and save your marriage”. Well, that’s you told. (more…)

Charlotte Vere is not a feminist, thank you very much. The former Conservative candidate and mother-of-two last shaved her armpits “this morning” and she’s definitely wearing a bra.

Huffington Post, 1972  2012

As I write this, not only I am wearing a bra –  a Debenhams “age-defying” uplift one, no less – but I am sporting a recently shaved area far more intimate than the mere underarm. Does this make me more of non-feminist than Charlotte Vere? Or is it not just what you do but what you don’t do?

Here are some things which I suspect Charlotte Vere, founder of the Woman On think-tank – which “campaigns for women, but not at the expense of men” – does not do: wear dungarees, shave her head, live in a commune, eat lentils for breakfast, act as muse for the Millie Tant strip in Viz. In addition, I’ve a feeling she also avoids the following: having principles, showing compassion, thinking “hard” thoughts. (more…)

Last Sunday my brother had his 40th birthday lunch in an Italian restaurant. As our starters arrived, I glanced across to the table next to us and spotted a young woman who I’m pretty sure was suffering from anorexia.

I hate writing that – “pretty sure was suffering from anorexia”. As though thin women aren’t constantly being over-diagnosed by ignorant observers who know nothing about the inner lives and fears of others. Celebrity magazines are the worst for this; one week a young starlet is in “size zero hell” (usually because she’s breathed in while wearing a bikini), while the next she’s “flaunting her curves” (having breathed out again). I don’t want to make these pathetic, faux-concerned assessments of others, especially since, when I was anorexic, I was paranoid that everyone else in the entire world had an eating disorder, too (at least I think I was paranoid). All the same, something about this particular woman really struck me. It was her face rather than her body. Pinched and haunted-looking. Her eyes looked so dead. She seemed so lonely amidst all the food and conversation. She looked cold and scared, and it reminded me of a fear that sometimes I’m able to forget. And then her order arrived. It wasn’t quite as she’d expected it to be. She questioned the waiter, her voice rising, this mix of nervousness – she didn’t want to cause a fuss – and terror – she had to say something, absolutely had to. I was afraid she’d cause a scene but she didn’t, eventually backing down. She ate only the garnish of a meal that perhaps she’d been planning for several days. Throughout it all her hollowed-out hands were shaking. (more…)

As a white, university-educated, middle-class feminist, there are many things about which I don’t give a toss. My children’s health and earning enough money to pay the bills, for instance. When it comes to those things, I really couldn’t give a monkeys. I prefer to let the “real women” worry about such mundane trifles. Meanwhile, my children starve / die of cholera (I pay so little attention I can’t remember which it is), which gives me time to ponder bigger issues, providing they’re not too big. Page 3, Special K, the pay gap – that sort of shit I can handle. I think about these things all day long (there’s nothing else to do except mooch around the coffee machine in my imaginary Bridget Jones office).  As for the real things – FGM, forced marriage, slavery – now that I can’t cope with. Thank heavens, then, for people like Neil Wallis. (more…)

Preface

You know how when you’re young you do things which are foolish and which you later end up regretting? Well, blogging-wise I am young. This blog is 6 months old on Sept 26th. And back in the early days – long before I’d found my blogging “direction” – I got tempted by the lure of “product review” i.e. getting free stuff in return for scrabbling together some kind (or not so kind) words. Of course, I’m ashamed of all that now. Today I know the true purpose of my blog (moaning about my kids and having spur-of-the-moment feminist rants). But back then – i.e. three months ago, so absolutely ages – I just thought “ooh! Some random stuff would be nice!” So anyhow, I’ve since received said random stuff and am obliged to review it, presumably in a non-ranty feminist manner (hmph!). So yeah, I’m really mortified and … Well, actually, I really enjoyed writing this, as well as using the free stuff. But I won’t be doing this again.*

End of preface

ECOVER! ECOVER! ECOVER!

(I think you’re meant to mention the brand name lots) (more…)

What do each of the following have in common:

  • the inappropriate use of apostrophes
  • advertisers using “pan fried” when they could just use “fried”
  • the belief that bulimia is an illness rather than a moral failing
  • the idea that there can be more than one meaning for the word “gender”
  • the notion that people other than smokers, motorists and fox-hunting aficionados can be persecuted
  • having to use the term “African American” when you just want to say “black”

All of these things are, of course, examples of political correctness, about which I am now an expert. (more…)

Zach Braff – did you like him more when he was wannabe arty and desperately unfunny, or wannabe sexist and desperately unfunny? Me, I liked the first version best (although “like” may be too strong a word). To be fair, he makes a better sexist than he does an arty actor/film-maker, but I’m not just scoring on attainment (it’s an arbitrary scoring system in my head and how it works is a secret – that’s just the sort of incoherent thing women do). (more…)

That No More Page 3 campaign – it’s all getting a bit bandwagon-y, isn’t it? Everyone wants to be in on it now and frankly I’m not sure it’s cool any more. Indeed, now that Bryony Gordon of the Telegraph has pinned her colours to the mast, I’m starting to wonder whether I should do an about turn and whip ‘em out for the lads. In fact, just in case you’re curious… (btw, getting that link to work is a nightmare. I suspect it’s because my body’s too bootylicious – or should that be boobylicious? – for it). (more…)

Is there a single collective noun for aunties and uncles? I’ve no idea but anyhow, them – my sons have three. And while I don’t think that’s a terrible number, I still don’t believe it’s enough.

On my partner’s side there’s Auntie Perfect and Uncle Manly. They are a dentist and a doctor, respectively (which is such a cliché it sounds like a joke, but it’s actually true). They have two sons of a similar age to mine and offer my kids an insight into what life would be like if Mummy and Daddy were better organised / richer / less annoyingly liberal (kind of like a very minor version of Blood Brothers, based not on actual wealth but on whether you read the Guardian or the Telegraph). (more…)

A woman has been jailed for two years after falsely accusing three men of rape. Luckily the Daily Mail has written a report on the case, complete with photos of said woman “socialising” and details of her sexual history. This is obviously brave reporting, committed to reinforcing the impression that loads of women – but especially the slaggy ones – lie about rape. Still, two years – doesn’t sound like much, does it? As one concerned tweeter puts it:

This slut who falsely accused three men of rape should get the same term they’d have got

Nice! Still, perhaps he’s got a point. Isn’t it about time women who falsely accused men of rape got exactly the same treatment as men who actually rape? (more…)

At 9am this morning I found myself in a meeting where it transpired that I was expected to have already trawled through the DfE’s Reforming Key Stage 4 Qualifications consultation document. Due to unforeseen circumstances (otherwise known as blogging about bitchy feminists) I, um, hadn’t. It didn’t matter though. I managed to wing it. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what EBCs are (hell, I could do it and I don’t even have O-levels). Besides, reading the document in advance would have just been cheating, rather like using “source materials” as an “examination aid” while sitting a history paper (I do, by the way, look forward to future history questions: What does the artist in this cartoon – the one which you’re not allowed to see – wish to suggest about Disraeli’s foreign policy? Failure to happen to imagine the correct cartoon will result in no marks.) (more…)

For all I know, Sarah Louise Catt is a heartless human being who felt no shame in breaking the law and ending a pregnancy one week before the due date. I didn’t attend her trial, don’t live in her head and have no idea, in the grand scheme of things, how harshly she deserves to be judged. Why, then, does her eight-year sentence for administering a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage disturb me so much?

I have been pregnant three times. I have two children. I have never had a pregnancy that wasn’t wanted – I have no idea what that feels like. I know what it feels like to be pregnant, and to lose a pregnancy, and to carry two pregnancies to term. I can’t understand why Catt acted as she did. I can’t imagine ever being in such a place, nor how I’d justify making the choices she made. But these are all idle thoughts – I’ve never been her. (more…)

Of all the annoying-yet-relatively-minor sexist things my father-in-law does, this is one of the most frustrating: whenever I or any other women says something critical of a person who happens to be female, he mews. Like a cat. This is to indicate that we are being “catty”. Ha fucking ha (I generally respond to this with scratching and spitting, before stalking off into a corner to lick my own arse).

In terms of crap things women are meant to be good at, I’m not quite sure how bitchiness compares to cattiness. Which are we best at? Or are they the same thing, albeit using a different domestic animal metaphor (a “petaphor”, one might – but probably shouldn’t – say)? Moreover, is it bitchy to say that I really hate people going on about how bitchy / catty women in general, and feminists in particular, can be? Because this is something that has pissed me off since the beginning of time (that, and people who claim that feminists exaggerate for effect). Honestly, I have memories of being at school and hearing female classmates discuss how when they grew up and had children, they’d like to have boys rather than girls because “girls are bitchy”. And I used to want to yell “no! It’s not all girls who are bitchy – it’s just you who’s bitchy – bitchy about all girls!” Except I didn’t ever yell it, as I was worried it would make me sound like a bitch. It’s annoying though, isn’t it? I reckon one of the bitchiest things you can say is that all women are bitchy. It’s such a self-serving way of having a dig at other people, especially if you are a woman yourself (in which case you inadvertently single yourself out as less bitchy, or at least more self-aware, than all the others – about whom you are, nevertheless, bitching. You total bitch). (more…)

This morning my youngest tried to go on the “big potty” i.e. the toilet all by himself. Needless to say, it all went horribly wrong. It looked like a massacre had taken place. A massacre with poo in place of blood. So then I ended up spending the five minutes before all of us were due to be out of the house crouched on the floor in my work clothes, cleaning up room and pre-schooler, all the while assuring the latter that no, Mummy wasn’t cross and yes, he was still “a big boy”, just a big boy who, at this point in time, happened to be smeared in faeces.

Why am I telling you this? Well, partly it’s because it’s one of those madcap mummy mayhem moments that we all love to share (regardless of whether anyone wants to listen). And partly it’s because I would have announced this earlier on Twitter anyhow, only my phone isn’t working and my netbook’s not as practical for such on-the-go tweeting (it takes ages to get going and I’d have only got poo on the keyboard). (more…)

Is writing articles about feminism a complete waste of time? Certainly for me it isn’t (I might not influence anyone, but I do find that WordPress controls my Ebay addiction). But for people in general – and proper writers in particular – what does writing a feminist piece achieve? It might earn you money, but will it change the minds of the people whose minds you really want to change?

Today I read two articles – one by Deborah Orr on No More Page Three, and another by Dina Rickman on Everyday Sexism – both of which I thought were great. I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with them, but in many of the online comments it was clear that some of those commenting hadn’t even bothered to read the pieces. For them it was simply a matter of honing in on the subject matter and trotting out a pat anti-feminist retort (even if it completely misrepresented the writer’s position). And I couldn’t help thinking “what a total waste of time – for everyone involved”. And then I wondered whether these people wrote their comments – at once so offensive yet so familiar – from scratch. Because that’s perhaps the biggest waste of time there is. All the retorts are the same. How much more efficient would sexists be if they could streamline their article-commenting technique? (more…)

I am a mummy. I have small people living with me – I like to call them “children” – and I am obliged to take care of them. I am also really fucking stupid. After all, that is what being a mummy is all about.

It has taken me quite a while to admit to the “being stupid” element of motherhood (that’s possibly a symptom of the stupidity itself, but I wouldn’t know). Technically what happens is your brain turns to mush, or porridge to be precise (if you happened to be a fuckwit to begin with, then it’s Ready Brek). Thereafter you might be left with a helpless human being who’s entirely dependent on you, but best steer clear of doing anything remotely responsible. From now on you’re only capable of working on “instinct” (don’t worry if you haven’t a clue what that is – you’re not expected to rationalise it, or anything else for that matter). (more…)

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