There seems to be a revitalising feminist spirit in the air at the moment.
Susan Jeffer’s Abandon-Your-Children-And-Get-A-Life self-help ‘classic’ Feel the Fear…And Do It Anyway is being reissued after a quarter of a century (which I will address in a separate blog piece, so virulent are my reactions to this approach). Much more enjoyably, How To Be A Woman by the queen of Wolverhampton gonzo journalism Caitlin Moran is currently at the top of the bestseller lists in the UK.
Moran’s book has been not only putting me at risk of a National Express fine for peeing on their seats during a fit of hysteria, but also getting me thinking. Yes, using my brain. Alright ladies. The way we women see ourselves – not to mention addressing the 30% pay divide and sex trafficking and age warnings on music videos – definitely needs to be reexamined, something we don’t do nearly as much as examining wobbly bits on our middles or potential warts on our chins.
But I have to say there is a point I disagree on. The basic effect of feminism so far seems not to have been the liberation of women, but making women feel more miserable because we aren’t doing ‘as well’ as men.
Most men, from where I am sitting, are not free. They are trussed up in boring, soul-extracting jobs in order to pay ever-spiralling costs of living, with simultaneous pressures of status and CV worthiness. Their value as men is defined by how much they earn, how good their golf handicap is, how hot (for which read brainless) their girlfriend is, and whether or not they have recently bought an iPad/Audi Quattro/private Stealth bomber.
And the more hirsute sex is just as neurotic (well, almost) as us ladies. Pelted constantly by ‘information’ from free media (and even more maddeningly, paid-for media), they are encouraged to worry about premature hair loss, penile dysfunction, and looking not a lot like the cover of Manliness Monthly. Not to mention whether or not their tadpoles could win the uterine equivalent of the Olympic hundred-metre butterfly.
I would venture that the effects of feminism have been more to subject men to the same terrors of not looking good enough as women have always been subjected to. However, instead of being able to have a good old chinwag/snuffle about it with mates over a packet of HobNobs and a cup of tea, they cannot talk about their feelings over a beer at the pub for fear of being branded gay, metrosexual, or Woody Allen.
And if something is really troubling them, say, resentment over parents splitting up decades ago, or bullying at work, or just a really weird fungal-type growth in the crotch area, they have to pay through the tearducts to see a therapist – who will probably also tell them they are, unbeknownst to them, gay.
Women have a freedom of voice – among our own sexual cohorts, at least – that some men would die for. Or maybe just have a sex change for. This freedom of expression, of finding a patient, listening ear to wail about our disappearing jawlines and unfulfilled artistic ambitions into, is massively, scandalously, practically criminally, undervalued. What’s the good of being the CEO of a colossal, natural-resources-raping company if you have zero ability to acknowledge your unhappiness? Plus they have those things between their legs that need constant attention. I mean, periods have nothing on all that.
Men are about as free as a turkey being ruthlessly entangled in string and speared with those ridiculous red paper tassley things on Christmas Day. Why are we are using their freedom as a benchmark for our own? Why not scrap the whole ‘Anything you can do I can do better’ gender competition and just encourage everyone to be themselves, work out what is an authentic way of living, and strive to be happy regardless of the weird itchy fungal growth thing?
Feminism needs to be rethought, that’s for sure. We just need to have our heads screwed on right to rethink it.