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). Continue reading
Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m having morning-after regrets. I thought I’d have one last grumble about Naomi Wolf – just one – and before I knew it, I was engaged in full-on, out-and-out ranting. And yes, it felt good at the time – these things always do, particularly when a person’s as annoying as Wolf is. But now, in the cold light of day, I feel somewhat ashamed, not least after reading this measured analysis of Wolf criticism by @weekwoman. Clearly it’s possible to disagree with Wolf without launching an unbridled attack. So why is it so tempting to just let rip?
So Naomi Wolf is arrogant and dismissive of others. So she selectively uses scientific studies to draw far-fetched heteronormative conclusions about gender relations. Big sodding deal. So too do Simon Baron-Cohen, Steve Pinker, Steve Bidulph and a great many more men (a high percentage of whom have names which start with an “S”*). They don’t attract the same public dressing-downs. Why is that? Is it because deep down, even the feminists who criticize Wolf have bought into ideas of male infallibility? Continue reading
I am a feminist. I don’t have a qualification in women’s studies. I’ve never been the spokesperson for any pressure group. I’m not tremendously well-read in anything other than German Romantic literature (an area which is not, I fear, particularly pro-enthusiastic consent). I’m still a feminist. So there.
I read feminist literature when I have the time and the energy, which isn’t very often. I like Backlash and The Women’s Room. The New Feminism drove me up the wall, The Myth Of Mars And Venus is ace and I found How To Be A Woman hilarious but tremendously ego-driven. And that’s about all I’ve looked at <guilty face>. Oh, and some Julia Kristeva, which I don’t really count as feminist, just annoyingly vague (guess that’s the semiotic chora for you). And then there’s also a tiny bit of Naomi Wolf – that bit in The Beauty Myth where she discusses anorexia. I used to read that section whenever I popped into WH Smiths (I never actually bought the bloody book). When you have anorexia, as I did, even supposedly feminist diatribes against the beauty industry can serve as a bit of much-needed thinspo. “It is dead easy to become anorexic” – isn’t that what she claimed? Good work, Naomi! Continue reading