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!