I’m really not a feminist. I sigh when I realise that we still need to use the term ‘feminism’ because if things really were equal then the word would no longer need to exist. But I’m certainly not a feminist in the paid-up, card-carrying sense of the word. Indeed, I often find myself letting the sisterhood down when I see an example of bad driving and instantly assume that the culprit will be a woman (95% of the time I’m correct), and I shudder when I overhear baby talk, discussions based around the ‘squee-factor’ of shoes, chocolate, Internet memes featuring kittens, pink (the colour, not the popstrel. Though I’m not keen) and the merits of Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones over David Tennant’s floppy hair. I’m also not ashamed to admit that I do not find women in the slightest bit funny. Comediennes tend to make unfunny jokes about their weight, the menstrual cycle, baby talk, the ‘squee-factor’ of shoes, chocolate, Internet memes featuring kittens and the merits of Benedict Cumberbatch’s floppy hair over David Tennant’s cheekbones. Jo Brand has made an entire career out of saying ‘Yes, I’m fat’ and ‘ I like cakes’ in a sarcastic voice.
So often women often leave me staring at the ground, shaking my head and muttering “we don’t do ourselves any favours do we?”
But I will stand up for my gender when I think that we are ALL being mistreated with the same brush (to mix a metaphor). And, as a result, I am getting sick of the press and its obvious hatred of women.
Last week there were reports across the media that declared that experts at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists were concerned about the possibility of cosmetics, non-stick frying pans and domestic cleaning products harming unborn babies. Pregnant women who have already given up alcohol and smoking (admittedly, probably for the best) have also had to give up eating cheese, eggs and fish and are now being advised to stop wearing makeup. Well, that’s a step closer to making expectant mothers endure pregnancy in a darkened cave wearing a hessian sack and eating gravel. Ha! I can see those wartime propaganda posters now: You are gestating while terror is waiting!
Don’t think that if you aren’t pregnant there’s any escape. Yesterday I read with interest that professional women are 70% more likely to get breast cancer if they have a more high powered career. Admittedly, the report was in the Daily Mail (read it here) which has to be the most neurotic, out of touch and misogynistic newspaper this country is proud to publish. But a quick trawl through the online content of newspapers with opposing political views brings no relief: Here’s a link to an article titled: ‘It’s been a bad week for women’ and taken from the Guardian on the 31st May. The article is no more than a roundup of the week’s anti-women news from around the globe. Indeed, it ends as this post thematically started, with the following statement:
‘Last year’s “war on women” was written off as campaign rhetoric. But the problem is we’re still seeing similar issues crop up a year later. Men on major TV networks are belittling women’s roles and intelligence, and major media companies are reducing women to their appearance.’
Television advertisements are also shudderingly sexist and awful – designed to make us feel so full of self loathing that we dare not even leave the cave for fear of being judged as too revolting and stupid to be allowed to live. Nowadays, every little bit of body fat has its own name (so we can be even more aware of its existence) and 1000 different (and useless) products are targeted at making women try to blitz whatever perceived evils our muffin tops / bingo wings / cankles /fat ears have. And whereas adverts for male beauty products promise to make the user ‘even more sexually dominant and manly than they already are’, women’s are designed to ‘make you less gruesome, because without this product, people WILL spit at you in the street. Which is all you deserve, you ugly, stupid bitch.’ And what’s with the ‘perfect family ‘ in adverts, which always consists of a gorgeous, skinny, compliant and dead-eyed mother, two belligerent children (one boy, one girl) and borderline-disgusting fat slob of a husband? Though I guess ‘The Flintstones’ got that particular ball rolling and shows like ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy’ perpetuate the myth…be this done ironically or with animated tongue firmly in cheek or not.
So…what do we do? My suggestion may not be a popular one.
Women need to stop feeding into this attitude by doing exactly the sort of things that just make them look ….well…vapid, vain, ditzy and as nothing more than bait ripe for the journalists feeding into this aforementioned war on women. Stop the simpering, the inane conversations about cupcakes and the trout-pout selfies on Facebook. Switch over from Britain’s got the X Factor on Ice once in a while and watch something with some depth. Learn something other than how to stick on false nails and hair extensions. Stop dwelling on how pretty you look / don’t look today or how big your breasts are / should be and think about the amazing mind you have. You can’t feed into the problem by screaming “Oooh, shiny thing” and fading out of the real world when you walk past a jeweler’s shop then bleat about inequality when you read yet another article about how rubbish women are.
We behave the way we are expected to behave. So the press keeps hammering home the fact that we are vapid and stupid and incapable of anything other than sitting in a cave eating gravel and giving birth. And instead of saying that this is not actually the case, we continue to act true to type, soak up all the anti-women crap that is thrown at us, then fill up Facebook with pictures of kittens and pink, sparkly, 6 inch heels. And this means the media is winning.