I am a lady (albeit in the loosest sense of the word) and generally I’m glad of the fact. Yes there are many downsides – childbirth, periods, constant ongoing battle to moderate body hair but at least during puberty you are less likely than the malekind to get a raging erection if you sit anywhere near the rear wheels on a bus to school. I think girls probably ride the hormone heavy puberty roller coaster just as wildly as boys, but luckily it’s all tucked safely and invisibly away in our training bras and pants.
But one of the downsides to being a lady is the whole being a ‘bitch’ thing. As it’s such an easy label to stick on pretty much any kind of outspoken female it gets a lot of use and I worry a little about it. I read a really interesting blog a while back about mean girling (women hating other women) by a very clever and successful female writer Liza Palmer and whilst reading it pretty much agreed with the whole thing – you can read it here if you like. But since then it’s been fermenting and whirling and guilting around inside my poor excuse of a frontal lobe. You see – though overwhelmingly I feel women should be more united. You just have to read any feminist popular culture for a bit before you get a bit frustrated about the importance placed on small scale issues like heels and lipstick and how this divides people up – and there is nothing more that the media loves than a feminist quarrel about female image and looks and sex so the whole thing gets massively overblown helpfully distracting us from the little things, like you know, wage differentials.
At the same time I look at the basis of the blog – the ‘Hollywoods 20 Most Hated Celebrities’ where Gwyneth Paltrow came first and Jennifer Lopez second whilst Chris Brown rolled in 20th and how this indicates a worrying women hating women trend and think that maybe the focus here is a little skewed. I’m fairly sure if women were given a sheet of 20 celebrities including Chris Brown and asked to rate them in levels of vileness, that most people would put him top – he is after all a total shitbag. And to be honest isn’t Chris Brown a singer not an actor?? So to sort of come into the survey at all is maybe a small victory. But you just have to look at the FHM hottest women survey – I try not to myself you can get side-boob blindness after a while – it basically has a strong tradition of people winning that were on the cover at the time they do the announcement for voting. People (particularly voters in the FHM sexiest women survey) are pretty straightforward people and quick fluffy questions get quick fluffy answers based on the last bit of media tat we read/saw/listened to.
Women already tend to have so much guilt we traipse around with – ‘Am I a failure as a parent if I work’, ‘Is my career a failure if I don’t’, ‘Am I failing my family/partner if I choose not to or can’t have kids’, ‘Am I a failure if I have post natal depression… want plastic surgery… can’t be arsed to clean the house… etc , etc, etc. Generally the answer overwhelmingly is no – but it doesn’t stop us questioning ourselves about it way too much. So maybe we should stop berating ourselves quite so much for finding certain people a total pain in the arse. Has anyone seen the Jenny from the Block video – it is fucking irritating, mahoosively so. Jennifer Lopez has also been in 3 of the worst films I have ever had the misfortune to sit through – Maid in Manhattan, The Cell and Wedding Planner. She’d probably come up near the top of my list too if I was asked for a survey.
And you know what – I don’t think I need to like all women individually in order to like women in general. And aren’t we wonderful – boobs are just great! Just as I know for a fact that all women don’t like me. I also don’t like all men or even all animals (particularly monkeys it’s something about the little hands). We all have our flaws or strengths that chime with people or don’t and that’s what makes the world a more interesting place.
I definitely agree that I think the media portrayal of women is massively concerning and that men are judged much less harshly for actions than women are. We ask these women questions that would be rude to ask anyone – about their sex lives, their fertility, their attitude to just about everything – and then judge them for their answers however they pitch it. After all we demand perfection in our female superstars but everybody has a different view of what perfection is so they are probably a bit fucked before they even start. Men on the other hand get away with being ‘flawed heros’, ‘troubled geniuses’, ‘cheeky chaps’ much more when in fact they are probably mostly just wankers.
But at the same time I don’t think I can guilt trip myself for not popping out to buy Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe book. I’d rather get the Marian Keyes one where she talks about how cake helped make her happy – because she speaks like me and to me much more than Mrs Paltrow ever will however immaculate her English accent is (and it really is very good).
Liza Palmer’s blog signs off with ‘We have to be the women we want our daughters to be’ – I agree with this. I want my daughter to be clever, kind and strong and I need to work harder on this. But I also want her to be funny and naughty and take a joy in ridiculing the ridiculous in this world wherever she finds it.