18 Jun 2008

Sexism - Women do it too you know!

In my line of work, as a highly successful Female writer, you encounter a lot of sexism. Sometimes this is frustrating, other times its hella fun and 'all part of the ride', as one would say. If sexism stopped, there'd be very little for us Feminists to do but sit around and enjoy our long-deserved equality - but let's face it that ain't happening any time soon!

Another thing I have to deal with is jealousy, the green-eyed monster, the loquacious snake. Men frequently express their jealousy through the use of spite, aggression, insults, boastfulness and so forth. We've all seen it and I need waste little of my energy in describing exactly how it is that men vent their spleens, frankly a Woman's words are worth more than that! If I was a more hetero-normative Woman I might even feel sorry for them - after all, for centuries men have been treated at best like Gods, at worst like macho-hero types, with Women renegaded to the category of imbeciles, witches, cud-chewing animals, prostitutes, muses and the like. Years and years of ingrained sexism and the memory of all the Women who've been burnt at the stake just for being able to wap out a half-decent poem or sentence in their lives has surely left its mark, both psychically and socially. Now, with a new generation of Female writers knocking the socks off their male competitors, it's understandable that the fallen hegemongers will be feeling a little sore. Like I say, I could feel sorry for them. But I of course don't. A Feminist writer? Hetero-normative? In the words of Simone de Beauvoir, "Do me a favour!"

What's more worrisome is the current spate of misogyny issuing not from men but from Women themselves. Anyone who has had to deal with an irate fellow Sister accusing them of 'deserting their sex', behaving 'like a man' or just 'being embarrassing' will know exactly what I mean. Just because not all Women want to get married in their early twenties and commence a life of drudgery producing offspring to instill with their parents' tired values doesn't mean they are any the less Women, frankly they are more so. Or, what's worse, we find blatant misogyny amongst the highest paid and most successful of Women, who 'o'ervaunt' each other to get to the top, raping their natural capacity for achievement and manifesting their talents only as callous ambition and bitchiness. Why only the other day I was waiting outside my publishing agent's office for a meeting when I got talking to two fellow writers also there to see their agents. One, Geoffrey Clugg, an historian and a frankly charming chap, couldn't have been more pleasant (for a man) and was extremely complimentary of my latest Suffragette endeavour, "Put That Woman Down!" Valerie Shaw, on the other hand, a trashy little bimbo with a frankly tiny red skirt on and far too much make-up to be taken seriously, was highly indifferent to all my chat and admitted that she had never read any of my books and wasn't sure it was really 'her thing'. Well, suffice to say I informed her that I had not so much as seen a copy of her latest 'novel' in any of the Waterstones in North London but I would look out for it if I happened to be taking any flights and had a chance to pop into the W H Smith in Heathrow.

This exchange got me thinking. If Women won't support other Women and encourage other Women, who on earth will? Looking back to the Suffragettes, what is most astonishing is that most of the criticism of the movement came from other Women, confused and trapped by their sex, not men at all. Yes, we've had to fight hard to overcome men in the workplace, but surely we shouldn't have to start fighting each other. Nope, that doesn't sound like equality to me. If we keep this up Women will become little more than crabs in a bucket: as soon as one tries to escape, the others just claw them back down and rip them apart up. Women shouldn't be acting like crabs, they should be acting like sisters, building tents together and 'connecting' and that sort of thing. Women shouldn't aspire to being like crabs at all: they walk sideways and are hard and impervious to empathy. What Women need to be doing now is walking FORWARDS.

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