I am 37 years old and have thus been an adult for quite some time. Nevertheless, I have still managed to think some incredibly stupid things. Here are just a few of the things I have believed while being an actual grown-up:
- if you use too much bath oil, the oil sinks in through your pores and makes you fat
- if you inhale while standing too close to someone eating a sausage roll then you can’t be a proper vegetarian
- it is both possible and morally acceptable to achieve gender equality and sort out all the other “equalities” later
I will allow you a few moments of headdesk / facepalm despair.
<A few moments later>
And now, the excuses: the first two, as you’ve probably worked out, are related to having an eating disorder. The third is related to being a Person Of Privilege. They are not very good excuses, but there they are. Ridiculous they may be, but those are actual beliefs that existed in my head. One look at them and you can see I’m hardly a go-to person when it comes to level-headed, rational thought. And yet …
Over the past few days I have come across the following questions:
As we have already established, I am capable of inventing the most idiotic worries and reaching the strangest conclusions. Nonetheless, even I am shocked by the sheer pointlessness of these queries. Even I find myself thinking WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?? Wear whatever shoes you like! And as for the state of your pubes while you’re giving birth – it doesn’t matter! Not unless you have a massive, impenetrable thicket that the midwife will have to hack through, rather like the Prince approaching the thorn-covered castle in Sleeping Beauty. And I rather suspect you don’t but if you do, who cares? You probably won’t. So do what you like (or get someone else to do it for you, seeing as you won’t be able to see what’s down below, let alone smear hot wax on it).
So there. I’ve said my piece on those two issues. But the whole thing bothers me. I do not want to be classed as one of feminism’s straight talkers. If it’s reached a stage where, relatively speaking, I am one of those feminists who just doesn’t give a shit, then I’m seriously worried about everyone else. Just how fucked up must they be? How unbalanced has the world become?
I have no desire to mock people on account of their worries. If you’re the kind of person who focuses on irrelevant nonsense (and I sure am), then that’s just your misfortune. However, while I may have spent years dwelling on complete and utter bollocks, I’ve never yet seen column space devoted to such burning issues as “why Diet Coke might not be properly ‘diet’” and “why deciding there are no burglars in your house means that actually, there are”. And yet we have reams on how to rip out our ante-natal pubic hair and on what constitutes sufficiently “feminist” footwear. Is this because we are meant to be worried about such issues? Or at least meta-worried about them, like I am now?
Obviously all of this plays into the hands of those who wish to portray modern-day feminists as a bunch of spoilt middle-class women with no “real” worries to speak of. Of course, this is hardly fair and besides, the right to get in a tizz about crap is surely a right worth defending on principle. If women suddenly have a responsibility not to “let the side down” by expressing concerns which might seem frivolous, but which are nevertheless linked to the sexist cultural currents that surround them, then that’s not fair. I do not consider dishing out advice on footwear to be a feminist act but still, it’s not something that should bring down the whole feminist project.
All the same, I just wanted to say this: I am a bit concerned. It should not be the case that I feel sensible. When it comes to pointless worries, I should be the expert. Sort it out, fellow feminists. Then we’ll all know where we stand.