What women want?

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about sexism at the moment.  There seem to be quite a few articles popping into my consciousness/news feeds etc, about how women are treated, and the differences between men and women at a social level, and I find myself getting increasingly bothered by them.

It is interesting to me that this is so.

I come from a long line of particularly fierce women.  Women who never really gave a crap about whether you approved of them or not, or worried about whether they should or shouldn’t be doing things because of their gender.  The few times anyone did try to patronise my mother or grandmother, or try to make them conform, they received short shrift, and we went about our business as usual, treading over the corpses of those who had defied us.

I feel that somewhere along the line, if I were able to trace my family roots back far enough, Boudicca would definitely pop up somewhere in the lineage.

I have always been brought up to believe that I am as good as any man at almost anything you care to mention, with the possible exception of facial hair growth (and this will develop in later life, I’m sure), and pissing standing up.

I have rarely bumped into active misogyny, and when I have, I have not taken it well. See above re: treading on corpses.

Those people who have been ridiculous enough to dismiss me because I am a woman, or treat me as an object, have always been easy to pity because they were either, a) so obviously devoid of intelligence as to be laughable or b) cursed with some unfortunate problem which meant that it was clearly only their ability to put other people down that made them able to hold their head up in public at all.

I am not stupid enough to think that sexism doesn’t exist any more, or that there isn’t a glass ceiling for women, and serious cases of where women are mistreated solely because they have tits etc, but I have been encouraged, over the years, by what has seemed to be a rather more positive outlook on the whole for women.

So I wondered, why, in recent weeks, have I found myself getting rather annoyed about articles where women have disclosed that they have been getting a hard time in various arenas, just because of their sex?

One article dealt with a girl in an extremely posh, fee paying girls’ school, who had wanted to set up a women’s group, and who had basically been hounded by students, and who had been forced to close the group by her school, who pretty much accused her of asking for trouble.

The other was an article in which a female journalist decided to give up her subscription to The London Review of Books, because of the ongoing lack of women featured within its pages, despite the fact that women make up a huge percentage of the book buying and reading public, and there are hordes of extremely talented women authors out and about.

In the first instant I was appalled that the school had done nothing to help the girl who set up the group.  In the second instant I was appalled that when the woman wrote to The London Review of Books to explain why she was stopping her subscription they wrote back to say that they totally understood why she was doing what she was doing, and they agreed it was a problem, but said they didn’t really know how they could go about fixing it.

The final straw was the number of comments under both pieces in which people wrote that they couldn’t see what the fuss was about and that they felt that these women were basically talking about something which didn’t exist.

I hasten to add that from my scanning of the comments, and it was just a scan, so I may be wrong, the majority of these sorts of comments came from men.

Maybe this is what annoys me.

It is clear to anyone without white skin and a penis, that society in the UK (I cannot speak for the rest of the world with any authority), is set up to favour anyone with white skin and a penis.

If you read the Daily Mail you would think it was set up to favour one legged midget dwarves of rainbow hue who come to these shores solely for the purpose of stealing our women, eating all our free paracetamol and taking all our jobs.

I believe (and I have no proof, so sue me), that these kinds of comments are also made, in the main, by white skinned men with penises (and possibly their white skinned wives), all of whom are alarmed that someone else might get a slice of the pie for a change, when clearly all the pie, and the dish it rode in on, should belong to them, just as it has for the last thousand years.

And what went wrong with society when we left it to be run by white skinned penis wielders?

Hardly anything, I think you’ll agree.

Not at all the right time to give someone else a crack of the whip.


No sireee bob.

If people had not fought for so long for the rights of people without white skin and penises, things would be in a much worse state than they are now.

I am not saying that my feelings are entirely unmixed when it comes to positive discrimination.  I am troubled by it quite often, but I also recognise that if it were not for this kind of discrimination, I and my daughters and my women friends and family, would still be the goods and chattels of men who ‘have our best interests at heart’, despite knowing three fifths of fuck all about what women want and need.

It irks me that those who ‘cannot see’ any prejudice are those who are in the lucky position of never having been on the receiving end of any prejudice, and so they don’t know what the hell they’re looking for, or what it feels like.

It irks me that the minute someone wants to challenge this perception they are accused of everything from communism to undermining the state, which seems to me to the knee jerk reaction of someone who is king of the sand pit and is worried because someone has asked to borrow their spade.

It irks me because I have two beautiful, talented girl children, who should not have to fight for the right to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they want to do. They should not have to be told that they cannot, or should not, or there is no place for them.

Not in this day and age.

Not any more.

I shall train them, like my great female forebears trained me, to ride over the bodies of their oppressors whilst flicking the ‘v’s’ but it would be much nicer if we could all get along and realise that there really is enough pie for everyone whether you’ve got a willy or not.

4 responses to “What women want?

  1. Hear, hear!! And if anything it is even worse here in Oz. I can, and frequently do, rant at great length about it.

  2. hear hear !

  3. Male superiority is at the heart of the Abrahamic religions and majority of other religions also. Since religion is such a major part of the culture of just about all mankind it is not surprising that misogyny rears its ugly head so consistently. Xenophobia, of which skin colour prejudice is a variety, is also deeply entrenched within religions.

    Your daughters, I fear, face an uphill struggle for many years to come. The meme of female subservience is very powerful and unlikely to be eradicated within a generation or two. I have struggled most of my life with the reality that very many women as well as men live life without questioning their attitude to gender.

    ‘Active misogyny’, when it arises, can be dealt with, as you say. The problem is in a wider cultural blindness. We all, men and women alike, need to be challenged regarding equality, and what it means in practical terms. It isn’t necessarily about them and us in gender terms. It’s about US, and none are more equal than others.

    . . . . As I reread this I recognise that it could come over as yet another willy-wangler implying you have no particular problem. You do. What I’m trying to say is, so do I. Your post and many others I have read recently are part of the solution.

  4. This, of course, goes on in the US all the time as well, and it’s an ongoing, uphill battle, not helped at all by creepy ultra-conservative patriarchal movements like Purity Balls (if you don’t know what they are, go to Wikipedia and Google them and be horrified on both literal and metaphoric levels.) On a more general level, it’s almost always the old white men who insist that we’re all getting riled up about nothing and that there’s no problem at all. This was made abundantly clear just a couple of days ago when the jury handed down the verdict in the Zimmerman case (a young, unarmed black man was shot by a white/Hispanic man “in self-defense”) and the black community was outspoken in its condemnation of the ‘not guilty’ verdict. General response from many white people: “This had nothing to do with race, and you always make it about race.” General response from many black people: “You have no idea what our lives are like.” Sounds like that observation would apply to your discussion as well. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes…

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