24 May 2008

Advertising, sexist? You bet.

I was thinking (again) the other day: I haven't seen a tampon ad on telly for an extremely significant period of time.

Body Form (as with most advertisements) was certainly degrading to women. No woman's thighs are that thin, no stomach that flat during menstruation. BUT the theme tune was undeniably empowering (reminiscent of Baywatch in fact). Yes, it was really quite catchy (NB I am not condoning Baywatch, again as with most programs, it was highly degrading to women).

Only tonight I was drinking some Horlicks with my cat, Emmeline Pankhurst, watching Newsnight Review, listening the the mindless babbling of that f******g bitch Kirsty 'butter wouldn't melt in my quim' Wark. She was gay raping my brain again and again and again. So I turned over to ITV (I know, I know) when yet another male accentuated 'CAR' (aka 'Cunt Alienating Robots') advert leaped onto the screen. Then suddenly, as if from no where, I thought to myself 'Where have all the tampon adverts gone?'

Sanitary Camp? I don't think so gals. Sanitary camps aren't real.

Is this what women have come to? Are we meant to stick a Citreon bloody Picasso up our fannies each time we bleed? Bleeding which I might add ensures the survival of the human race. Because some women might not know that. Some women (imprisoned by their gender) might shove a gear stick up there and seriously hurt themselves. And then we'll all be blamed for putting 'serious strain' upon the NHS, because it's always OUR fault isn't it?!

I don't need a car when I'm on the blob. I can take the bus, I am a MODERN woman. But what I do need is a tampon, or maybe a moon cup when I'm in the country at weekends. What I certainly do not need is a silly remote controlled light, or an environmentally friendly engine (honestly I mean men will believe anything).

No to cars and yes to tampons. No to a free ride and yes to freedom!

23 May 2008

Excerpts from the Diary of Judith Coalstream (Routledge 2004)

June 18th 1934.

This diary entry was written in the morning before the Will reading of the recently deceased Lady Coalstream, who died in suspicious circumstances related to ethanol. It seems likely that Judith was writing under the influence of a stonking hangover.

"I am writing under the influence of a stonking hangover. I feel like roadkill. Today is a day like any other, only slightly damper, although some days are damp. I rose at noon, possessing a perilous headache ready to burst at any instant into full blown brain fever the likes of which I've not experienced since I was a youth, only last Tuesday. Mother's death still hung over the house like a great swollen eye; Harry stalked the corridors in mourning weeds clutching a bottle of Frangelico from a pale hand with grazed, raw knuckles from punching the dogs, poor swine. Flossie was curled upon the hearth rug painting her toenails of all things, the bloody fool. So now we were orphans, what larks! I must prepare myself for rags it seems, as the Captain prefigures the state of Mother's finances to be in ruins after so many years spun on ethanol - why if only, if ONLY she'd never taken that gap year in Peru as a girl, or Father had done something constructive like set up mill in India and settled it in our names, we'd be spared the degradation of upper middle class life. As each moment passes before the Will reading that will lock our fates in twain like a curled stick, I pity myself that I am a Coalstream and wonder that I am not dead from a deep disgust."

21 May 2008

Billy Piper stole my baby

Well, what a week for Women! Parliament has been awash with controversy this week, as MPs debated and (thank god!) voted against reducing the 24 week abortion limit to 22 (or less, or none, if the vile Dorries had got her way). What's more MPs voted to remove the awkward question that Lesbian couples and single Women are asked when discussing IVF treatment: how they perceive the lack of 'a father or a male role model' will effect the child. Aside from the frankly mad interjections of Iris Robinson, who really has no place in the HoC whatsoever if she honestly believes herself to be the descendant of a barbeque snack item (and a man's at that) the debate managed to raise a number of important issues that need to be addressed by Feminists.

Now I've no personal objections to the family as a social unit but lets be frank its as good as any other collection of individuals, such as a football team or a church choir. In fact perhaps not even as good as the football team, seeing as the prescriptive role allocation in a family entrenches its members in tired gender positions, such as 'Mum' (or 'mom' abroad) 'dad' 'Daughter' 'son', etc whereas football teams have relative fluidity in the allotment of positions - I mean what difference does it really make if a centre midfield plays right back? Its not flipping neuroscience, run around and kick the ball boys! As far as church choirs go my guess is as good as the next Woman's.

What this landmark shift in law denotes is a landslide shift in perception - firstly of course of a Woman's right to choose and of her capacity to want TO WANT to produce a leettle person all on her own (or with another Woman) without her prime motivation being the perpetuation of some guy's genes. So no more saying 'Here I am, an animated womb, please incubate your seed in me until it becomes a person who can have your surname after, of course, I have forced it through my uterus." Now women are, officially, agents of free will. And this has taken how long?

But what is the real problem with a lack of a father figure at all? Are the mystical qualities a father is supposed to bring to the unit really something beyond the capacity of a Woman? I'm not trying to say that modern Women have become emasculated, far from it; rather that the characteristics of father and motherhood have come into question themselves as discrete categories - what is it about Daddy that makes him Daddy? Does it make a difference that he's a man? By saying 'Mummy can't do Daddy stuff', or vice versa, aren't we locking our children into gender stereotypes which will last them their whole lives, possibly ruining their future relationships (assuming they're straight, which of course I'm not) by cleaving polarities into the most basic of connections, that between themselves and a member of the opposite sex (again I am so NOT expecting my children to be straight, but if they were they might have some serious problems).

People should be people - and they generally are people. Problems only occur when you start dividing them into little boxes, like boxes marked nationality, race, religion or culture. Just because gender boxes are the biggest it doesn't mean that they're not just as silly and arbitrary. If we got to the stage where we could think without about each other without gender differences featuring altogether, would that really be such a bad thing?

But what does this mean in the wider world? Isn't preaching the transience of gender roles to Lesbian couples and empowered single Women somewhat akin to baptising the converted? Or buying hers and hers towels for the converted, buying them self-help books, sending them on weekend 'empowering' retreats. As Feminists, resting on our laurels has never been an option. If it had, we'd have never done a thing after we got the Vote. So I say fight, sisters and brothers, to be People first, Women and men after!

14 May 2008

Yes - I was a stripper in my youth, and I'm only half sorry

That's right sisters, the time has come, I've just had six cups of Horlicks and I'm steaming. I must confess that like many Women, I too used the Female figure to earn money as a youth. I can remember them to this day, the other girls, standing around in their G-strings, breasts barely concealed beneath pistachio balconettes, the burning bright lights, size 6 figures, plastic faces, those vague eyes, like they weren't really...alive...?

My parents said I had to get a job to pursue my writing (that was before Leroy died) but they never imagined this - a library instead I expect, maybe politics. BUT NOT THIS!

Women thinking they could please men with suspenders (fools). Am I ashamed? Yes. But am I proud? No! Yes...that summer I spent in the Debenhams lingerie department in Chiswick was the worst summer of my life.

13 May 2008

Even Feminists can be anorexic

Now, I'm not one to complain about my lot, except of course as a Woman, but things really are getting ridiculous don't you think? Take for example, I was sitting in a Notting Hill cafe the other day with my friend Melody Wittgenstein, an excellent Female journalist and OXbridge graduate, having a wonderfully enlightening conversation about her recent work in Gambia (you can find some of her work in BBC archives, just search under Penny Laureate) that is until the waitress (I know, right!) came to take our order and I was horrified to hear my friend order a Skinny Latte withOUT chocolate and a small edamame salad. When this travesty of an order arrived, made to look ever more ridiculous by my perfectly sensible foccacia melt with triple espresso (in three cups), I confronted Melody. "Are you on a diet!" I blurted out, gesticulating wildly and spluttering affrontedly, to which she replied "Just watching what I eat, plus I had a big breakfast and a cereal bar at 11." (Yeah, I know!)

This got me thinking. If privileged Women like Melody who've achieved as much as it is frankly possible for anyone to achieve can develop terrible eating disorders, what on earth sort of a chance does that leave for anyone else? I mean, she went to OXbridge for goodness sake, if she can't pull herself together the rest of the Women in this country really may as well just walk into the sea. I mean NOW!

To be honest Melody was looking a little on the tubby side, especially for a journalist - I mean they're always rushing around aren't they? Now, I've never had a problem with keeping trim, but I certainly wouldn't let such considerations as the size of my sandwich or the frosting on latte dictate my gender, let alone my waist size! If Women are going to come to terms with their bodies, we're going to have to start eating properly - and that includes lunch.

Even Women can be Nazis

Phew, what a busy weekend! I've been Googling the hell out of Women all over the Internet and have discovered all sorts of unexpected things - did you know for example Unity Mitford was a Nazi?

4 May 2008

Women's Retreat and Fiscal Policy

Hail, lady readers, and apologies for my silence! Far from neglecting you, I've in fact spent the last week at The Women's Retreat in Hampshire, recharging my batteries, avoiding carbs (in an empowered sense) and generally centering my chakras - that is - powering up for some more polemic writing against Female oppression.

Some might think I have an easy life, but the work of a Lady writer is never done! Far from pottering around the house all day in a pinny, I rise at 8, cook my eggs and set about researching my historical endeavour 'Put That Woman Down', at least as long as I have the strength to hold a pen. Well, as you can imagine the stress had got too much. The Women's Retreat, unlike the many yoghurt-weaving peacenik indulge-fests on offer, is designed for the Modern Career Woman and combines relaxation with professional development, in a way that says 'Stick it!' to the man, right before you out(WO)maneuver him in a massive international business deal.

And I must say I was highly impressed with the fellow Sisters I encountered. Clemency, a hedge fund manager from Stratford, was a model of Female independence and empowerment with whom I spent many a night over a Martini (that's right Sisters, it's terribly unconventional!) discussing the contemporary Women's movement. Though a little absorbed in the 'Naughty Girl's Guide to blah blah' culture and adament to take advantage of the Spa's all-inclusive (though thank God not compulsary, it wasn't a Nazi concentration camp!) wax service, she still embodied, in part, the idea of the Modern Woman. Powerful, wealthy, doing her thing, putting herself out there. We could all learn a lot from such a woman.

As Virginia Woolf said, 'A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. She had only £500 a year, which wouldn't quite cover MY expenses, and I am writing history so I assume that costs a little more. In conclusion, as soon as the banks open on Tuesday I have resolved to set up an ISA. Thank you Women's Retreat, you've liberated one more (unwaxed) Woman.