Sunday, 4 April 2010

Feminist Rage™

The Big Bad Feminist. It’s a cliché we all know and loathe – ugly, hairy, either too fat (and therefore minging) or too thin (and therefore bitterly bustless), lesbian because she’s been rejected by men (because we all know that’s how sexuality works!) and yet somehow hoping for some nice chap to “turn” her, possessed of a Victorianly hysterical victim complex, possibly vegan, and probably wearing organic hessian dungarees. But above all, angry. Not in a torrid, “feisty one, you are!” fuck-or-fight kind of way, but... well, dear me, pass the smelling salts, in a terribly unseemly, unfeminine way.

And of course, it’s all that ire and bitterness that makes her not only angry, but pathologically enraged almost to the point of statemented disability. To your left, ladies and gentlemen, the lesser-spotted Feminazi! See her (because it is always a “her”, naturally) stalk through free-range lentil markets! Witness her trade communist propaganda leaflets for mung beans! Recoil in horror as she kicks random innocent men in the balls! ...Yawn, verily. Haven’t been there, will never get the T-shirt, because it’s a load of groundless bollocks. Where exactly this stereotype comes from is more of a mystery (oh yeah, apart from the fevered imaginations of tabloids and louts’ mags) and I have yet to meet an avowed anti-feminist who’s ever met a real live feminist, let alone one like that.

... Are you waiting for a “but” yet? Because the problem is, there is one. Passion is integral to any kind of conviction or activism, usually on the angry side; strong belief in anything engenders a will to fight for it. And what a telling phrase that is in its aggression, for ’twas ever thus; when societal evolution goes awry, revolution is always against its status quo, whether that be slave-trading or whaling or serfdom or rule by monarchy.

Or sexism. I was struck reading Kira Cochrane’s interview with the author of Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism with how struck she was by Walter’s apparent calm; the article even opens, “I'm trying to establish just how often the feminist writer Natasha Walter gets angry”. Of course, Cochrane is no numbNuts, quickly championing the validity of feminist rage, and I am not about to rehash her article – but it got my pretty little head thinking. So much feminist debate and defence centres on dismantling the fictional bully-girl/self-appointed victim who roams the organic markets of our adversaries’ imaginations, and in some ways, rightly so. Certainly none of the feminists I've met conform to this stereotype – if anything, quite the opposite.

Whether it’s contentedness born of having worked out what they believe and want in life, the independence and originality that tend to accompany openness to unpopular ideas, the fact that a well-developed sense humour is so essential to sanely navigating an insane world, or what, I don’t know – but all the female feminists I've known or met are confident, positive, witty, and generally just fun. What’s more, a great many (if not most, in my personal experience) are also – shock and rocky horror – in fulfilling, stable relationships. Mostly with – nurse! the sal volatile and a fan, at once! – heterosexual feminist men. It also bears mentioning that, on the whole, they’re a pretty damn good-looking bunch too (not “just” to their fellow feminists, I might add; a fair few models grace our ranks, donchaknow. I think that says a lot about how society treats even the “lucky” women who conform to its beauty myth). Overall, feminists are generally pretty productive, happy people – quite strikingly so.

And this is all fine and dandy except that, directed to non-, or (more to the point) anti-, feminists, it falls on frantically-plugged ears further deafened by the sand in which their owners’ heads are buried. Deciding whether to engage with these people at all is of course a Hobson’s choice between preaching only to the converted and trying to reason with what is often the intellectual equivalent of a brick wall, but if any debate is to be undertaken, I think we need to change its terms.

There is a tendency (understandable given the PMT-ridden, irrational-not-intellectual popular “bloody women” construct) to shy away from our emotions in feminism, to show how detachedly logical it all is. I think this is a mistake because it can be not only transparently disingenuous, but also a spectacular own-goal. Maintaining the kind of Socratic serenity needed to argue protractedly for feminism is a noble but (for a good 99% of us, anyway) impossible goal, and I would challenge most human beings of any socio-political persuasion to defend something they’re passionate about that dispassionately without an unholy amount of Valium.

Ironically enough, I think we stand a better chance of maintaining calm by acknowledging turmoil; in a debate so popularly (gender-)constructed as women’s emotional overreactions vs. what “everybody knows” the world is “really” like, as passion vs. reason, we’re missing a trick by buying into that binary. It’s a truism that the personal is political; I believe passion and reason are just as intertwined. “Angry” is an adjective not an insult, and even our worse dismissal, “bitterness”, cannot be triggered in a vacuum; we shouldn’t be trying to explain how feminism isn’t angry and bitter, but why it has reason to be. There are few more logical laws than that of cause and effect.

So really, so what if they call us us angry feminists; what's it to us when we can cogently articulate why our anger makes perfect sense? But wait, what’s that rustling in the bushes? To your right, ladies and gentlemen, the greater-spotted “make me a sandwich” brigade! Watch in amazement as they fail to argue their way out of a Subway bag.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

ebay asbo?

EBAY RESPONSE: Your entire listing is a gratuitous comment about a social group

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

♥ single and bitter seeks same ♥

Would you write, let alone answer, a dating ad like that? No? Well how about spending most evenings saying exactly that, albeit not in so many words? There's been a bit of a strop thrown recently by some idiot over on Feminazery about the blog's supposedly unforgivable attack on some whingefest about howwid wimmins not giving poor ickle menz sex even when they've worked hard to come across as normal human beings and everything. I can't be bothered to trudge through all the blindingly obvious reasons these sorts of Nice Guys (a breed entirely distinct, as one sage commenter opined, from Good Men) don't get and don't deserve sex with their blow-up dolls let alone real women, but the whole thing's got me thinking about another pissy phenomenon; Love Hate.

I don't mean that Heathcliff/Catherine, Colleen-Rooney-melodramatically-chucking-her-ring-in-a-forest-and-then-trying-to-retrieve-it-when-they'd-made-up, thing. I mean actually hating love because you're a miserable git. I don't know if I attract more of it by mere virtue of being single myself, but I am getting increasingly puzzled sick of it.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am 24, female, straight, and single. I am single for a fairly typical variety of reasons; I'm very independent, I'm very picky, I just haven't met the right man yet, etc. Basically, I don't need a generic rent-a-boyfriend to survive so I'm happy to be single, but I would also very happily take up with a wonderful man and have joyous, riotous sex with him were such a specimen to materialise at a party any time soon. So yes, of course it would be wicked to have a great relationship in my life, as it is to have the great interests and hobbies and work and friends already in it. The only problem is, that includes all my friends - single, married, and everywhere in between - and that's apparently some kind of treason against all my fellow singletons.

It happened again last night. "Pff! Couples", muttered Rob, Anna nodding in agreement, as our flat sat down to dinner. We are a flat of four; two boys, two girls, all single, all leading perfectly normal lives - except, apparently, me. "Urgh, at the train station the other day there was this fucking couple being all lovey-dovey, I wanted to slap them!" "Yeah, it's like, 'No, I don't care that he did that really sweet thing for you, bla bla bla'." "They're so annoying, aren't they?"
And then I committed the schoolgirl error: "But why?"

Why? WHY? Was I out of my mind? Everyone knows couples are annoying, just going around looking so fucking happy all the time, kissing at bus stops and holding hands and eating out sometimes and dancing together on nights out - I mean how do those bastards have the nerve to, when you're single?!

Except, erm, I clearly didn't get that memo from the broken-hearted. I mean yes, exhibitionist chavteens dry-humping across the aisle from you on the bus are irritating, in the same way all smelly or crap-music-blaring fellow passengers are. I'm sure we've all been pissed off with friends who drop off the social radar completely as soon as a new boyfriend or girlfriend appears, and yeah it can twist a recently dumped knife to see a couple getting lovey-dovey at the traffic lights if you've just split up with someone that week. But other than that, I seem to be the only single person in London who thinks "aww" rather than "aargh!" when they pass a clearly loved-up couple with the temerity to be attached when you're not.

But the only way the latter popular attitude can possibly make sense is by genuinely believing that all couples are happy and all singletons are sad, and that all those happy couples are somehow responsible for all singletons' non-coupledom, and therefore sadness. Or, as Mr Webb put it, "There's only so much happiness in the world... and they're hoarding it all." Except, oh wait, that line in the script was a JOKE. Being single (being anything for that matter - tall, short, thin, fat, weak, strong, "foreign", "native") is not a reason to resent people that aren't.

Men and women falling in lust or love not only have no case to answer for others' failure to, but ironically also embody what most of us are hoping for ourselves somewhere along the line. So why on earth has couple-bashing (not to mention men-bashing and women-bashing) become so vociferously normal? Maybe it's singledom, and not relationships, that needs the most getting over. I mean really, where is the love?!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009