Hey, sisterhood! Look at me! Last week I was a humourless feminist with PMS but this week I’ve decided it’s a whole new me. I’m going radical. So radical, in fact, that I’ve gone full circle and ended up being the wussiest feminist in the whole of wussdom.
I’m worse than Natasha Walter, worse even than Ellie Levenson. Honestly, I am as totally non-hardcore as they come. And in my new, wussy, softcore feminist guise, I would like to wussily propose one thing: I AM FUCKING SICK OF FEMINISTS WHO GET MORE RADICAL THAN THOU. WHY NOT GIVE US ALL A FUCKING BREAK?
Let me be clear about this. I am not saying that one type of feminist is “better” than another. Or than to be an effective feminist, it’s probably best not to get too shrill and ranty and all those other things uppity women are meant to be (and actually never are). I think it’s good to be furious about an awful lot of things. But not about other feminists apparently not being as hard or knowledgeable or clever as you. For verily, therein lies the route to arrogant, hypocritical tosserdom.
For sure, wussy feminists used to piss me off. To a certain extent they still do. I cannot have been the only person banging her head on the table when, just as Living Dolls was published, Natasha Walter admitted that yeah, she may have been a little naive with what she wrote in The New Feminism. As though a million other feminists didn’t point that out to her at the time. For chrissakes, Natasha! There’s being slow on the uptake and being completely unconscious for the past decade. But still, Living Dolls makes some reasonable points. And you can buy it in WH Smiths. Things could be worse.
This isn’t one of those posts where’s it’s announced that hey, it’s okay to be a feminist and shave your legs and wear lipstick and suck cock and blah blah blah. I fucking hate all that, not least because it always seems to me that what’s being said is that since it’s okay, it is in fact what you should do. Come on, feminists! Haven’t you realised that being subjugated is now acceptable! The Spice Girls said so! I don’t have truck with any of that (much as I like the idea of “having truck”, whatever that means). There are in fact feminists who are obsessed with makeup but are also aware that it’s all frivolous crap (not saying any names. Oh, okay then: me, now).
The thing that really gets to me, though, is it being decreed that others have not proved their feminist mettle. And, in particular, that women who make compromises with their feminism – those who might manipulate the light in which it’s seen, depending on the audience – are crap feminists who can fuck off. No, they’re not. They’re human beings negotiating the world. Often they’re just trying to get things done (and no, we’re not thinking of Louise Mensch here. Just of people who need to get a foot in the door somewhere, anywhere, and won’t get it if they behave like a PhD student who has years to sit around just thinking clever thoughts about how no one should be allowed to make compromises. Not saying any names. Oh, okay then: me, ten years ago).
Instinctively, I bristle at the suggestion that it’s not the person who shouts the loudest who gets the most things done. For instance, whenever it’s been argued that the suffragists were more effective than the suffragettes in winning the vote, I’ve thought “no, fuck off! That’s just one massive ‘calm down, dear’ from the historical establishment”. To be honest, I think that still. I think it’s a total lie to suggest that if only women played their cards right and raised grievances through the correct channels, they’d be allowed to join the club. That’s just bollocks. But I think we need a mixture of voices. Including those of women who’ve got to where they are today by positioning themselves as the friendly, made-up, highly compromised face of feminism (again, not saying any names. Oh, okay then: me, in ten years’ time, when I’m famous and stuff and blow the lid on the whole patriarchal conspiracy. I might be dressed like Theresa May, but there’s the one thing I’ve got more of, and that’s my miiiiiiiiiiiind. Oh yes, come the feminist revolution, it will be like the Misshapes video, only with me as Jarvis Cocker).
Until then, though, when I’ve wheedled my way to a position of power, crushing the rad fems underfoot with my chocolate stilettos, there is one thing I need to clarify, though. If you grow your pubes really really long, but then plait them and add Disney Princess hair grips – what kind of a feminist are you then? (not saying any names, though)