This women’s world…

I hate the damn patriarchy. I hate the structures that allow it to continue to function, the men who deny its existence and those who just close their eyes to it. I am tired of rape culture and wage gaps and micro aggressions and attacks on reproductive rights. It all sickens me. However, what angers me most are the women who refuse to join the feminist ranks. The traitors in our midst are worse than the enemy at the gate.

The simple truth is that women must fight for each other. Allies are great, but we cannot rely on anyone else to secure our rights. Although men may care about the treatment of individual women, the have proven that they aren’t all that concerned with our fight for genuine equality. Even so-called decent men exhibit shock when women discuss the nitty gritty of our lives and how misogyny affects us. If almost every woman you know has been sexually assaulted or harassed, how is it possible that almost every man in your life has no idea that it was happening? How can women be cat called, groped and demeaned from the moment the grow boobs and no men ever participate or see it happening? It is isn’t possible. They know. Just like they know we’re side-lined in the work place. They same way they are completely aware that women still carry most of the burden of child rearing and home keeping. Not to mention the emotional labour of explaining this (& oh so many other things). Our patriarchal society is very comfortable for men. Hoping they will tear down their own kingdom is naïve. We have got to have each other’s back.

Shall we start with the basics?
Other women are not the competition. The pie is big enough for everyone to get a slice. You do not have to engage in that ‘I’m not like other girls’ bullshit. Women don’t create anymore drama than men. Female bosses aren’t inherently bitchy. Slut shaming isn’t cool. Trying to distinguish yourself at the expense of the entire sisterhood is a stupid move. Everyone knows what you’re up to and almost no one likes it. You think you’re winning cool girl points with the men folk, but they’ll stomp on you just as quickly as they do anyone other chick who gets in their way. In short, don’t be a desperate pick me. It’s just sad.

Offer genuine solidarity.
Support other women in all aspects of life. Vote for the women who deserve to hold office. Consume the art of talented women. Shout out your friend’s endeavours. Fight for representation with your voice and your purse. Don’t judge women for every little thing. Stay at home Mum’s aren’t better than those with careers outside the home. There is no perfect size. Trans women are women. We’re all real and we’re all just trying out best. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s worthless.

Actions speak louder…
If there is any chance of breaking down the barriers that women face, we must be prepared to stand up for each other in practical ways. We must be willing to stand with our sisters even when it’s difficult. Don’t automatically dismiss reports of misconduct against men that you like. Abusers (of all types) often cultivate a nice guy persona precisely because it makes their predation easier to get away with. Listen and be prepared to question.

Back female colleagues. Shut down mansplaining and the co-opting of ideas. It is so easy for a third party to interject a simple ‘I think X already covered that’. Do not tolerate inappropriate talk. Don’t laugh or ignore sexist ‘banter’. Be clear that you are not amused, and you will not work in a toxic environment. If you witness discrimination, harassment, bullying approach the victim and offer your assistance. Not just a shoulder to cry on, but pragmatic help. Go on record with HR regarding what you’ve witnessed, testify at tribunals etc. This is even more important if the woman in question is also a member of another oppressed group. Use whatever power you hold to institute practices that make your workplace a place that women can thrive. Then fight to have to those polices enforced. Protect and encourage the warranted career progression of women who utilise maternity or family leave. We must be willing to stick our heads above the parapet. Even/especially when we may be the only female voice in a room.

Do not reward collaborators.
This is very simple. Women who purposely back the patriarchy do not deserve your support. If they are willing to inhibit the opportunities of other women for personal gain, they are not worthy of your backing. Don’t vote for, align yourself with or rely on them. A sisterhood of women is a very powerful thing. Devote your energy to building and sustaining your own.

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She’s in fashion…

I think I have that bug everyone has been getting. Or I just have the cold & my stomach is acting up. Either way I am vommy & achey & fevery. Oh & my period is trying to kill my uterus. What I’m saying is I feel shit, which means I’m up at 5am watching absolute trash on tv.

One of the show types I sometimes watch when I need something distracting, but untaxing is next top model. I don’t really care which top model franchise, they all have the same ingredients. Ridiculous tasks, a really cool outsider chick to root for, a total bitch, lots of folk getting way too upset about taking photographs, occasional freaky make up looks & even more occasional actual chubby chick doing really well (they always include a ‘plus size’ contestant these days, but they are very rarely actually plus size & they usually get bumped pronto). I don’t care about modelling, but for some reason I quite like these shows for grumpy insomnia fodder. Thus I found myself watching Britain’s next top model & having all my ‘I’m pissed off’ boxes ticked. There was a really annoying chick who had an awful tattoo of a gun, wore fur & irritated the life out of anyone in her vicinity. Abbey Clancy is getting on my wick & everyone has had a complete breakdown about having their hair dyed. It is the perfect amount of bullshit. I can project all my crankiness onto this pointless tv programme & for some reason it helps.

Then they go & ruin everything by making me rage. It’s getting close to the end, so all the contestants are really having to up their game. They’ve been flown off somewhere hot, hot, hot, stuck in insane costumes & asked to do something near impossible. Just for good measure they are also given an absolute prick of a photographer who proceeds to bully them. Let’s be clear about this set up. Some of these aspiring models are under 18 & away from home for the first time. The photographer is a professional as well as a grown ass man. When one of the girls struggles to deal with the tog & gets upset she is basically told to suck it up. The judges laugh about how this guy is renowned for being difficult & declare that part of the job. Cut to me, fuming.

Why should dealing with what amounts to abusive behaviour just be part of the job? Why are they showing female children being degraded by an adult man & then criticising the child’s professionalism for not being with ok with that?? I know modelling is an industry famous for mistreating it’s young acolytes, but actually watching it played out as entertainment enrages me. A huge portion of the audiences for these shows are young girls. Most of whom are not watching with the cynicism that I am. Lots of those viewers will long to get into modelling or similar industries. Even more will be looking up to super models, celebs & fashion folk who appear on these shows. What are they learning from this type of behaviour? Nothing good.

They’re seeing adult men behave like spoilt children & still be admired by their peers. They’re witnessing female debasement classed as the price you pay for success. They’re watching adult women schooling girls to accept abuse. Before you think I’m overreacting, I’ve spent the last several hours doing a little research. A variation of this scenario happens over & over. Girls are continually ‘tested’ with the difficult photographer, director, go see & the person pushing their buttons is invariably a well respected male industry figure. The lesson to be learned is always that these dickheads have the power & they must take the abuse with a smile. It is sickening.

This is the patriarchy captured on camera. Even though these programmes are fronted by apparently empowered women. Tyra et all are full of inspiring speeches. They purport to be about fierce women forging media careers. There’s lots of feminist lip service, but when it comes down to it, they still teach young women they’re lambs to the slaughter. And, seriously, FUCK THAT.

Fuck that

Early bird gift guide…

I know I am getting into the Xmas chat a bit early & I apologise. I only do it because it takes me ages to get organised. I have loads of Dec birthdays & far off loved ones to send to on top of regular Xmas. The added complications of spoonie life means I’m usually already quietly Xmas shopping in October. I am certain there are others just like me out there, thus I thought some early gift guides might be useful.

I’m staring with this fairly random guide as I think most folk are a bit eclectic in their tastes. I find all those really specific guides a bit annoying because very few people fit in just one box. So, i have collated this bunch of cool, but varied gifts. I’m calling it, traditional eclectic, all the standard crimbo fare with some twists. 

I may have mentioned before that christmas without velvet is just not on. Velvet clothes feel divine, so imagine how amazing this most tactile of fabrics would feel right next to your skin. Yup, velvet lingerie is definitely a sexy festive gift. Of course along with something to slink about in, something to slob in is also required at Xmas. Never underestimate the power of good jammies. 

All good book shops, New Look, Plus size lingerie lounge, New Look, All good book shops,The literary gift company. 

Hand in hand with nightwear go a really good book & this delightful cushion to lounge upon. I have become a bit of a cushion fanatic, but I think most book lovers would be pleased with this couch addition. 

Everyone likes a bit fancy at Xmas time. Wether that be twinkling on your eyelids or quirky touches around the house. 


eBay, Asda Home, Urban Decay (Heavy Metal). 


Barry M, I want one of those, Pyro Pet, Ciate (Glitter Flip).

The rise of the christmas jumper in recent years has tickled my fancy. The sheer variety of festive knitwear means there is something to suit all tastes. Chocolate & jewellery are also Xmas staples. Again, if you look hard enough you can find some to please everyone. 


Vegan Town, Marks & Spencer’s, Bonnie Bling. 

As a kid I always had a holy advent calendar, so the idea of a vegan choc one really appeals to me. Making a statement with my accessories is so up my street, but sometimes I just want my baubles to look pretty.  There’s a bit of each here.


Rebel Circis, Marks & Spencer’s, Fuck the Tories. 

If my haste upsets you, I get it. If however you have a massive Xmas list that you need to get ahead of, have at it. 

Do you want to know a secret?…

I have a secret. It could be argued that keeping this secret makes me a bit of a hypocrite. For all my body positivity, there is one thing about myself that I cannot learn to love; my facial hair. 


Until about I was about 30, I wasn’t a very hairy person at all. My body hair was all fair & fine. As such it wasn’t something that I gave much thought to. To begin with I had a little bit of fine hair on my neck, which I put down to getting a bit older. The hair quickly progressed to my chin, then to my upper lip. I started waxing it & so began my facial hair war. 

As the hair got thicker I consulted my gp (as a person who had crazy periods, sometimes 1 a year, sometimes lasting 6wks) PCOS should have been any easy diagnosis. In actual fact it took 6yrs to convince a dr to even investigate. Blood tests revealed increased hormone levels & that was that. I was prescribed medication to regulate my periods, which thankfully worked. The beard, however, remains. I’m too pale & fair for laser removal and nothing else really does the job. The hair continues to get worse. I’ve tried waxing, hair removal cream & even a No!No!; none of which keep my face smooth for more than a day or two.


I can love my fat & my scars. I don’t even care what others thinks about my often hairy legs. I feel no compulsion to remove my pubic hair other than when I feel like it. I don’t wear make up daily & my hair is most often to be found in a very messy bun. I have skin tags & moles & birthmarks that it has never even occurred to me to feel self conscious about. I am almost entirely impervious to societal demands upon my body. Expect it seems when it comes to my increasingly hairy face. 

A hairy face appears to be my line in the self love sand. I cannot get past the notion that it renders me repugnantly unwomanly. As I write those words I know how stupid & misogynstic & backwards they are. Yet, none of my strident feminist views prevent me from being utterly ashamed of my stubbly chin. 

The fact that I have internalised this patriarchal bullshit makes me so angry. I know I don’t have to measure up to some nonsensical notion of femininity, but part of me still wants to. I hate that. I hate how much energy I waste on getting rid of this hair. I hate that despite my best efforts I have bought into such a narrow definition of what being a woman is. 


Maybe part of this is the same as any other stigma, no one talks about it. Well, not outside hushed, unhappy tones with our closest ones. Or whispered exchanges with professionals who might rid us of the dreaded hair. I know other women who have PCOS, but none of them have visible facial hair & I’ve never asked. Are they too constantly removing fuzz? I wouldn’t know because I’m not sure if talking about it would be rude or even out right offensive. So, I just carry on feeling like the only person who could have a side job in Victorian freak show. 

Until now. I’ve decided to come clean. Yup, I have a beard. I may not ever be ready to let the world see it, but at least I can start talking about it. It’s just hair, right? Fuck it. Girls can be furry too. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone might even have a good tip on how to get rid of it! 

This goes out to all the women…

Lemonade. I know, everyone is talking, writing & I suppose singing about it. I must confess to not having heard (or seen) the complete album. I’ve sampled some highlights and whilst not a member of the beyhive, I’m excited to hear more. I have no issue with Beyonce’s music (her fur wearing is another matter). I applaud the increased political input in her work. Her support of black & feminist issues is on point. Her artistic viewpoint is increasingly progressive & radical. Which is why, some of her fans retrograde behaviour of late has been particularly hard to take. 

  
Oh, I know fans are fanatical these days. Bey is queen & they worship her. That’s all good, but the reaction to Lemonade & hints that Jay Z may have cheated are down right backwards. 

Rachel Roy’s ‘ Good hair, don’t care’ Instagram post ignited smouldering rumours that she was Mr Carter’s indiscretion. The beyhive immediately launched a social media witch hunt. Bee & lemon emoticons appeared en mass on her various pictures & posts. Along with the taunting images came more serious abuse, which inevitably led to her making her accounts private. Today’s tabloids decided that it was in fact Rita Ora would had done the dirty with Beyonce’s spouse. She too was lavished with the same treatment. 

  
Perhaps you think those involved in infidelity deserve what they get. Maybe you feel betraying Bey is worthy of a good hounding, but wait, what about Jay Z? If he did in fact step outside his marriage surely he’s where the hive loyal should turn their scathing tongues? He’s the one who made vows & a child with Yonce. Why does the arse who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants get a pass?

  
The answer, as is so often the case, the patriarchy. Woman are still being conned into feeling that other chicks are the enemy. Our old boy’s club society wants it that way. It’s much better for the status quo if smart, talented women view each other as the competition. Stop letting yourself be suckered by the tired old trope that cheating men can’t help themselves, but cheating women are whores. It’s such a dangerous road to go down. It ultimately leads us to rape apology & the dismissal of female sexual agency. That’s not what we should be teaching our daughters. The bottom line is the Carter’s marital woes are not my business, but women tearing each other down is. 

Cheating is cruel. I’m not loving anyone who participates. But, ladies, come on. Stop beating on your own whilst letting men off easy. We’re better than this.  

inequality promises that it’s here to stay…

Last week I had a flick through glamour & immediately remembered why I stopped buying women’s magazines. I felt a rush of anger at the content. Despite nods to feminism (tiny footnote on feminist websites), the magazine continues to be a bastion of incredibly thin women, articles about the calorie content of food & men’s preferences about a variety of issues.
Let’s start with Dawn O’Porter’s column on women in panel shows. She expresses rather unhelpful opinions such as
‘Or a channel is brave enough to commission female- strong panel show where women don’t have to compete with men; the problem will be the same’.
Whilst I’m all for more female strong programming, I strongly reject the suggestion that women will do better when they are not forced to compete with men. Claiming we need men free zones in order to be accomplished is bullshit. Women can hold their own in mixed panel shows the same way they can in any area of life.
O’ porter’s next gem was to declare women as funny as men, but not as competitive, therefore females on panel shows will just sit back & let the men battle out it. Eh, what? Clearly no one has told dawn that attributing emotions & characteristics to a specific gender is sexism. These tired old tropes about the differences between men and women are feeding into our patriarchal society. When women are still telling other women that they aren’t up to playing with the big boys, we have a problem.
Next up, the ’hey, it’s ok’ page. This is basically a list of female gender stereotypes, but hey it’s ok, don’t worry you’re only a woman. This issue contained the following gem,
‘….to have mainlined a coke, small popcorn & cracked into the revels before they’ve even started the film trailers.’
Did you get that? It’s ok to eat. Absolutely fine to make a pig of yourself, well as long as you don’t forget it’s a SMALL popcorn. Girls eat small. Remember that.

If you can bear to read on you will reach an article named ‘pluck what?’ written by Luke Leith. This piece is handily labelled G MEN, just in case you missed the fact that it is written by man. The man in question first gives us a row for casually insulting men’s appearance. I’d suggest that if your partner is talking to you in any of the ways mentioned the issue is not gender based, but related to the fact that you are dating an arsehole. He goes on to give us a little potted history of gender politics in the UK. Apparently we are not-quite-there-but-almost (a sexism free society), phew, what a relief. Which leads him to his big point; all this feminism has hurt men. Men are now sometimes portrayed in an unflattering light in advertising. We women are just too harsh on the poor men folk these days. We must not hurt their feelings. Oh, those poor men. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think objectifying men or labelling them imbeciles is ok. However, the painting of men as victims of sexism is laughable. Reverse sexism isn’t a thing. It doesn’t exist because it is not institutionalised. White, cis, males still overwhelming hold the power in society. When the world is constructed in favour of your sex, sexism is not a discriminatory factor.
We are then presented with a guide on how to approach our partners about them balding, putting on weight o their sartorial choices. This is insulting because it assume that
a/ we care about those things, rather than, you know, loving our partners for who they are.
b/ that we are cruel bitches who would mock a person we supposedly care about
Of course what is most annoying is that a women’s magazine feels the need to employ a man to instruct us.

My next bone of contention is yet another piece by a man. This time Eric Sullivan tells how men feel about our sex toys. Why what men think about what we use to masturbate is even an issue, I don’t know. Eric tells us that when he stumbled upon his girlfriend’s dildo he felt aggrieved; he went so far as to accuse her of cheating on him with a plastic cock. Eric’s girlfriend explained that she wasn’t replacing him. Eric was of course skilled & competent in the bedroom. This made his fragile ego feel a little better. Nevertheless, the only way to make Eric feel completely comfortable was to involve him in the dildo’s use. So, there we have it, women have no right to own their sexuality. We must satisfy all our desires in a manner that does not intimidate men. We must consider how men feel about tools that are designed for our pleasure.
After what seems like a million pages of fashion, make up & advertising this issue ends with ‘dos & don’ts’ a page which congratulates celebs they magazine deems to look good & ridicules those whose clothing choices they do not approve of. Screw the sisterhood, eh?
Besides these troublesome pieces the magazine continues to perpetuate the thin is beautiful myth. There is no sign of anyone who even remotely resembles me. None of the insanely expensive clothes featured would be available in my size; larger women do not exist in glamour world. It is a world that is also predominately white, assumes that everyone is straight & that how we look is our main concern. All this from a magazine that frequently tries to attach itself to feminism, I despair.

 

Lily Allen Hard out here