OMG I’m turning into Germaine Greer!!!

(Gentlemen don’t be put off by the title, this is IN NO WAY an anti-male rant, rather it’s a pro-female rant. It’s aimed at the Laydeez but do please feel free to read, clap, cheer, whoop and generally make appreciative supportive noises all the way through and in the comments below. Ladies, I’m assuming you’ll all be doing that anyway…)

I’ve been starting and abandoning new posts all week. Abandoning them cos they were crap. I was doing it cos I haven’t blogged in a week or so and I though it was time, but it doesn’t work like that. My Muse refused to get involved and just sat in a corner sipping Pina Coladas and humming Club Tropicana to herself, cackling evilly each time I deleted another atrocious couple of paragraphs.

And then this morning, when I could REALLY have done with a lie-in after last night’s STONKINGLY good launch party for The Networking Girls/Breast Cancer Haven Charity Calendar (I’m Miss September and my shoes look FAAAAAAAAABULOUS Dahling), what happens? Miss Muse drags me all unwilling from my pit of pleasure because she’s got not one, but TWO things she wants me to blog about.

Well I don’t want to wear you out so we made a deal. I’ll do one now, then I’m going back to bed for a nap, and then I’ll do another one. But I’m not going to release the other one till Monday so we can all relax over the weekend.

And I’m making her share her Pina Coladas with me so if the typing on the next one’s a bit woozy, you’ll know why.

Right then, let’s crack on.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a feminist. Yes, I believe that people doing the same jobs should get paid the same, regardless of gender.

Yes, I believe that men and women should be equal in the sight of the law.

Yes, I believe that everyone is entitled to protection from sexual abuse, harrassment or general unpleasantness, again regardless of gender.

From those opinions stem the beliefs that OF COURSE women everywhere should be seen as citizens in their own right, not as appendages of or belonging to a man.

That OF COURSE women should be enfranchised, educated, able to move around freely on their own, drive, run businesses, pay taxes, stand for parliament, determine what happens to their own bodies and their own lives etc etc.

I never thought that made me a feminist though, just a reasonable human being.

My daughter is very proud to call herself a feminist and that stance informs the work she’s doing for her dissertation his year and will go on to inform what she does in the future. And I’m very proud of her, but I still never considered myself to be a feminist.

And this morning, I have woken up and decided that, as a result of a number of things that have settled into my brain this week, I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE  AND YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT I’M A FEMINIST!!

Excuse me while I turn green, burst out of my clothes and develop an Australian accent…

So what’s got me fired up? Two comments from women who don’t value themselves, that’s what.

“I’d love to do that, but my husband won’t let me spend money on luxuries” (the luxury being herself)

“I don’t deserve to be treated as if I’m special, I’m not beautiful enough” (from a client to a beautician)

These are intelligent, successful adult women living in a Western democracy. There are plenty more who feel like that about themselves. Some of the comments I’ve had in response to my earlier posts about body image have shocked and saddened me as they’ve opened my eyes to how poor so many women’s sense of worth really is.

Let’s look at that first comment, from the woman whose husband “won’t let” her spend her money on something she feels she needs. I know she’s not the only woman in that situation and I wonder why it happens. Does it stem from being brought up to “be a good girl” and not make a fuss? Is that why so many of us STILL don’t treat ourselves as equal partners in a relationship? I work with clients who defer to their man in all things because “he’s the man”.

WELL SO BLOODY WHAT? YOU’RE THE WOMAN!!!

(…is what I sometimes feel like shouting, but of course I don’t because I am a professional and I make no judgements about my clients 🙂

But Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, why are you undervaluing yourselves? You have every right to make your own decisions about how YOU want to live YOUR LIFE.

If YOU want to spend YOUR money that YOU earned on something, then you don’t need someone else’s permission.

And let’s look at the second one, the woman who “doesn’t deserve” to be pampered because she’s “not beautiful enough”. This one is so sad it makes me feel like weeping. What is wrong with our view of ourselves as human beings that makes some of us feel that we don’t deserve things because we don’t look a particular way?

The level of despair and self-loathing underpinning that one comment is shocking. Not as shocking as some of the conditions that women in other parts of the world undergo on a daily basis, granted – I’m not in any way trying to equate low self-esteem with what’s happening to women in the Congo or Sudan or Iran.

But it’s shocking to me that, 30 years since the women’s movement first got off the ground in this country, and getting on for 100 years since the Suffragettes first started breaking shop windows, so many women STILL don’t see themselves as worthwhile members of society either because of their gender or their appearance.

What can we do? What can I do? I need to channel this anger and frustration into something positive. Someone out there can help me to corall it and get it moving in a positive direction. I’m waiting to hear from you….

 

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8 responses to “OMG I’m turning into Germaine Greer!!!

  1. Wow! Excellent post!!
    I recognize myself in the whole “I’m not good enough and he’s the man”-kind of thing, but at the same time I carry the same frustration you do. I am a feminist and I am well-aware about how things should be in a relationship (and in the world) as far as equality goes. So why don’t I live by it?

    I think it’s all about making a decision and open your eyes to the truth. Your post sure opened mine. I’ve decided: I am a wonderful, deservant person – and I will start to treat myself that way.

    Thanks, Cathy!

    • Good for you! I’d love to hear from men about how they feel about this as well. What does it feel like to be constantly deferred to by someone who doesn’t see herself as your equal? Is it an ego trip or a pain?

  2. Well…you could throw yourself under the Queens horse at the Cheltenham races…though why, when the Queen is very good role model for women I’m not quite sure….!!
    You be the role model for women, be the change you want to happen and I am with you all the way. I have been a role model for women for many years, maybe a little less colourful then you but there never the less. Band together and grow inner power and love for one’s self…then teach it on……it’s not rocket science but it does work!

    • Well now that’s an interesting question – IS the Queen a good role model for women? I’m going to have to think about that one…And I know what you mean about being the change you want to see and that’s all well and good but far more change will happen by harnessing the power of the collective and that’s what I’m thinking about…

  3. I can understand your sentiments in your entry.

    Unfortunately, all that you talk about is even more prevalent in North America and one could only wish that women would see more of themselves as strong, beautiful women in every facet.

    The media has done it’s part in putting in the stereotypes of how women should look, behave, etc with print ads, movies, etc. so it will be a vicious cycle that our children will have to overcome.

    I agree that us women, mothers, daughters and wives need to support each other all over the world. With that being said I think it’s time for a group hug {{hug}}.

    • You’re so right Nora, and I wonder what we could do to mobilise the women in the print media to join the resistance movement? After all, the majority of people working on women’s glossy magazines (where a lot of what you’re talking about originates) are women – I wonder why they want to perpetuate such unhelpful stereotypes? The usual answer to why women get fed a continual diet of unhelpful and degrading images of other women is that “it’s what they want to look at” but I suspect it’s actually got far more to do with the fact that the major advertisers would pull out if women’s magazines didn’t constantly send out the message that we’re ugly and worthless if we don’t BUY stuff to turn us into glamour pusses.
      Oh dear. I appear to have wound myself up again 🙂 Thank you for your {{hug}}, have one right back with added lashings of Fairy Dust! xx

  4. I don’t think that we’re very kind to our women. If you watch programmes like “Next Top Model”, you see a bunch of naive young women being humiliated for nothing worse than being and being a bit irritating (as people often are at this stage of their life).  These young women end up having their frailties (most of which they’ll grow out of idc) exposed on national TV for the entertainment of others.  Even worse the people doing the humiliating are older people who have achieved success in the industry and seem intent on exploiting and crushing these young hopefuls.

    I think a lot of this goes on in “real life” too.  The number of times I’ve bounded all bright eyed and bushy tailed into a new job only to find an old-hand determined to “take me down a peg or two”.  (Really, I do wish that these people would check my peg level first and verify whether there was any scope for lowering it!)

    And I also think woman-on-woman abuse is horribly prevalent. I’m sorry to say, but I think we have some evolutionary trait to be mean to our sisters.  How many of us have a “frenemy” – a female friend who we compete with?  How many of us recognise that visceral thrill you get from making a catty comment about a female associate? A recent Mumsnet survey suggests that Mums think they are harder on their daughters than their sons.

    Why don’t we teach our daughters that they should question the motives of anyone who makes them feel small? Personally, I think the correct response of any ANTM contestant to bitchy comments from the judges should be flip two fingers and walk out. Of course this brings us the problem of how to challenge this behavior when the person you’re challenging has some ability to influence your career success. And I’ve never figured out how to do this satisfactorily!

    • Holly, you are SO right. There are still far too many people (it’s not just women, although I suspect it’s mostly women) spending their lives walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting someone else by being who they are. I think a lot of it stems from constantly told when growing up that “being a good girl/boy” involves not answering back and doing as you’re told. That then extends into feeling like you have to take whatever shit is dished out to you by someone who behaves as though they are in a position of authority over you.

      The sad thing for me about the contestants on things like “Next Top Model” is that they seem to think that being treated like dirt is what they deserve and what they should expect, and that it’s a normal part of a working life. Women may be harder on their daughters than on their sons but I wonder how much of this is an attempt to toughen them up before they have to go out and face the Big Bad World?

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