i lipsticked ‘fuck you’ on the mirror as a mark of my respect;

It’s rare that I label myself as a ‘feminist’. I am one, of course, to the same extent that I imagine every right-thinking individual has to be; but the word itself carries with it connotations of joyless wenches who don’t shave their underarms and rely too much on generalisations – every man does this, every woman wants that – and are too divorced from the reality of men and women’s biological differences for me to take them seriously.

Not, you understand, that I am suggesting for a second that there’s anything wrong with not shaving your underarms, personal choice and all that, but it’s, you know, gross.

I’ve got enough of a sense of humour to laugh most things off, is what I’m trying to say, and it takes a lot to get me riled up. The exerpt from Fay Weldon’s new book What Makes Women Happy which I read on the bus this morning was, however, one such thing. Perhaps I’m reading too much into what the Metro bills as a “two-minute sampler” – how much of a true reflection of a book’s contents can one garner in three paragraphs? – but, well, judge for yourself what’s had Ms Bluestocking and I spitting this morning:

The fight for gender equality is bad for the looks. It makes no-one happy, unless you find some reward in struggling for a justice that evolution failed to deliver. It will just develop your jaw, wrinkle your brow beyond the capacity of Botox to unravel, muddy your complexion so much that no amount of Beauty Flash will clear it, and in general do you no good.

Fight for political justice by all means – join the party, reform and re-educate. Fight for domestic justice – ‘Your turn to clean the loo’ – if you must, though personally I don’t recommend too much of it; it’s too exhausting. But do not fight for physiological equality because it does not exist.

If you have a period pain, you have one. Accept it. Don’t fight it. Sit down. Take a pill. A male voice raised is impressive; a female voice raised creates antipathy. Accept it. You are proud to be a woman. Do not shout your enemies down at the client meeting – leave that to men. Get your way by smiling sweetly. The end is more important than the means.

Apparently, later, the book goes on to recommend faking an orgasm to keep your man happy. The whole thing smacks of a return to the Victorian era – only this time, rather than society dictating this is how women should act, women should be choosing to act that way themselves only with nudges and knowing winks as to the stupidity of men in necessitating such a course of action.

Also keeping me occupied this morning: the news that geneology website ancestry.co.uk is offering searchable phonebooks dating back to 1880 diverted me to that site and gave me something new to play with. As it relies on English records, for the most part, there’s little to find from my immediate family; but having an obscure surname means that I’m familiar with most of the results. I had no idea that my little cousin’s middle name was Tuesday, for example – and I’d probably have been better not knowing.

“Most of you wouldn’t be in the phonebook anyway,” says Married Andy, “Gypsy caravans tend not to have landlines”.

Other things I’ve been reading today: Blender’s list of The 50 Worst Things To Happen To Music – no mention of “Everything I Do (I Do For You) though – and Oliver Davies’ blog, with its simple mission: “to apply for 100 jobs that I’m clearly not suited for and see what happens”.

There’s also the mystery track doing the rounds that’s purporting to be a new Postal Service song, but isn’t, but is apparently rather good anyway although still being limited in my internet access I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

The Scotman today launches a writing competition in conjunction with the National Galleries of Scotland. They’re calling for poems or short stories inspired by one of its works, with a closing date of January. If somebody fancies giving me a nudge to write something nearer the time… well, I probably won’t, knowing me.

Finally, dying your hair “mahogany” when you don’t have a shower is like taking a bath in a giant period and I wouldn’t recommend it. Still, my hair looks ace – no grey on me now, suckahs!

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10 Comments

  1. marianne
    September 20, 2006 / 12:47 pm

    OK OK OK timing is amazing – I have not yet made a post about it which is why it is strange but my next zine, to be called Stories About Girls is going to be about personal responses to the idea of feminism in a contemporary, whether or why we feel feminism is still necessary, what the HELL is wrong with the world when boys who seem normal say “I hate feminists”, etc. So, although you are busy (I almost typed “busty”, topical and possibly true?) career woman now, I want you to write me something. You’d be published in two hemispheres!!

  2. September 20, 2006 / 1:00 pm

    Haha – it may well be 😉 I’d love to write something (as long as you didn’t need it in the next month ;)) – you have my email, don’t you? xo

  3. jay
    September 20, 2006 / 3:47 pm

    Hmmm…English records you say? a plan is forming….

    I wouldnt say “i hate feminists” any more than i hate anyone else who’d choose to wear a definition by choice 🙂

  4. Kate
    September 20, 2006 / 7:39 pm

    hmmm, I saw an interview with Fay Weldon in the Guardian a few weeks ago, and what she said about orgasms –

    oh my god, I was going to write a very intelligent and sensible comment about feminism, but I’ve been distracted by a woman on Why Are You So Fucking Fat? Come Here and Let Me Smell Your Poo or whatever it’s called, who’s allergic to chocolate and she still eats tons of the stuff and it makes her throat swell and cluck like a chicken all night long, and now I feel so sick that I have to go away and do something else.

    oh, now they’ve got to the poo part 🙁

  5. Vallary
    September 21, 2006 / 6:59 am

    The excerpt from the book enrages me. Why are there people out there who think like that? And why are they WOMEN??

    I am, by no means, a feminist…but GAH. (It’s because I believe that most “feminist” mindsets are kind of radical, and not actually based on equality at all. But that’s an entire other argument.)

    I wish I could dye my hair….

  6. Pingback: virtuallynicky » So just barcode me and put me in a pigeonhole.
  7. September 21, 2006 / 10:05 am

    Jay said

    I wouldnt say “i hate feminists” any more than i hate anyone else who’d choose to wear a definition by choice 🙂

    Damn you – pre-empting the blog entries I was going to do about labels….

    Well.. the one I was constructing in my head whilst in the shower yesterday anyway.

    (yes I edited this because I didn’t do the copy and paste thing in the right place. Doh!

  8. tenderhooligan
    September 21, 2006 / 11:30 am

    Apparently, later, the book goes on to recommend faking an orgasm to keep your man happy. The whole thing smacks of a return to the Victorian era…

    I frequently feel this about a lot of ‘feminism’ – it seems to have done a complete back-flip to what it all fought against at its conception. I’m not sure I’ve ever used the term about myself anyway – it’s never described my views or beliefs.

    Feminism plays a big part in Criminology these days – almost every theory has to have a feminist angle now, regardless of how tenuous a link may be – and I just find it all to be much too parodied.

  9. Oliver
    September 27, 2006 / 3:21 pm

    Glad you liked the blog!

  10. September 27, 2006 / 3:22 pm

    Tried to be clever on the last comment – and look where that got me! lol