I am currently reading Attack of the Fifty Foot Women by Catherine Mayer, courtesy of the Amazon review programme. Mayer is one of the co-founders of the Women’s Equality Party of which you will know I am a member.
I’m only half way through the book so far, but I am finding it absolutely compelling. The reason I haven’t finished it yet is simply because in between every chapter I have to go and kick the wall and wait for my teeth to stop grinding long enough to start again.
It’s not an angry book, mind you. It’s thoughtful, thought provoking, intelligent and says many of the things I try to say when talking about the issue of equality, but without the tongue tied, impulsive, expletive ridden phrases that spring to my mind.
Or the need to give up, go away and drown my sorrows in a vat of gin, because God forbid anyone would actually listen to what you are saying rather than assuming you have said what they want you to say so that they can trot out all their fears, prejudices and set party pieces instead.
After all, who the fuck would want to listen to a girl anyway? We know if a women speaks 25% as much as a man in a meeting, they are considered to have ‘dominated’ the conversation and be talking ‘too much.’ Why would it be any different in real life? Good job here I’m mostly talking to myself. I shall dominate away.
The gist of this week’s conversations boil down to.
‘You forget, young lady, feminism is not what you say it is to you, it’s what I want it to be so that I can tell you you’re wrong and how you’re not as important as me and your ideas are stupid. And what you need to remember is that feminists don’t actually want equality at all. Even though they say they do. It’s well known that women lie, which is why you can’t be trusted. And don’t forget, equal rights for women is not as important as, ooh, I don’t know, any other thing on the planet that benefits everyone except women first, because there isn’t really any tangible benefit to liberating women from oppression. As if women are ‘actually’ oppressed anyway. Come on! We live in a world of equality now. The fact that 86% of the austerity measures since 2010 have been shown to burden women means nothing. The fact that nobody has ever been prosecuted under the equal pay act is irrelevant, despite the gender pay gap, which is a myth anyway. The fact that we’re the fifth biggest economy in the world and girls in Liverpool are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary towels just shows that they’d rather spend the money on trainers and live on handouts, not that women are suffering and that we could actually do something to alleviate it, but we won’t. It doesn’t matter that women have never been truly liberated so I have no evidence except my fear and prejudice to back up what I’m saying against your actual statistics. It doesn’t matter that studies show that actually, in the small pockets where equality is encouraged, it has a positive impact on everyone. I haven’t got time for experts and data because then I wouldn’t be able to wilfully ignore evidence in favour of getting really angry with you and wheeling out a list of denigrating labels to squash you with. Why would you want equality for women and by extension, equality for all when you can just have my boot smashing into your face forever?’
That. Forever. Basically.
One of the things the book is particularly good at is looking at equality as an issue that affects and benefits everyone. I’m finding this particularly relevant this week after trying to talk to various people about it and finding myself hitting my head against the brick wall of them believing that when I say ‘equality for all’, what I mean is ‘superiority for women.’
I raise my head from that brick wall only to smash it against the further wall of the fact that they also assume that when this happens, women will be as punitive to men as men have been to women for hundreds of years. They seem absolutely incapable of grasping the idea that this is not about revenge, and that just maybe, women won’t be invested in kicking men to the curb, because if we have equality, women will have better things to do with their time than think about bloody men all the time. The ego truly does know no bounds in some cases.
An example I was given to prove I am wrong is that this is what ‘women’ do now. Women in positions of power now apparently just want men’s balls on a plate and are actually more horrible than men, so who would want a matriarchy?
I pointed out that perhaps women (not all women (ha ha)) behave in this way because they are being forced to operate in a patriarchy, and that if things were equal, truly equal in terms of opportunity, they wouldn’t be, because they would be living and working in a completely different environment, and given that we’ve never had that environment before, it’s impossible to predict how they would behave, or men would behave, but I would be willing to give it a try. I also pointed out that a society which operates under the terms equality for all, is not actually a matriarchy.
We talked about the ‘fact’ that women cannot be true feminists if they think this, that or the other or don’t support every single cause that men think women who are feminists should support. I say talked about. I was told this is true. I was then ignored when I pointed out that I don’t think men are inferior men if they don’t support the issue of spiralling male suicide, or express their maleness by naked drumming in the woods, or whatever, because it’s not up to me how a man wants to label how they define themselves. I am also able to separate the word men from the word patriarchy and accept that the patriarchy is a way of oppressing everyone, men and women, and that by wanting to smash the patriarchy it does not automatically follow that I want all men’s balls on a plate. I just want my girls and my boy to grow up in a world where they can do what they like without being shoved into gender appropriate boxes that deny them the richness of a fully lived life.
I am perfectly capable of, and frequently do understand and demonstrate my understanding that not all men do all things so why should people think that all women do or should do all things?
Why should women have to be responsible for the whole of woman kind in order to be a ‘good feminist’? Whatever the fuck that means.
‘You forget, young lady, feminism is not what you say it is to you….boot in face forever. Libtard, snowflake, quinoa eating, Guardian reading, vagina bleeding retard. Label, label, label, sweeping generalisation that allows me to feel angry, sanctimonious and right about everything. You know nothing about being oppressed because whatever you say your experience is is a lie because it’s not my experience and you can’t possibly understand my experience because you don’t ‘know’ anything. And if you’re the slightest bit more economically comfortable than me, you’re obviously akin to Marie Antoinette in Versailles lording it over the peasants, rather than someone who pays a bit more council tax than me but still gets the same shitty schools and bin service. And that’s handy because it lets me dismiss everything you say, think and feel because that’s what I ‘know’ you’re doing to me, even though I actually don’t ‘know’ because I’m too busy getting angry at what I think is true to actually listen to anything except my own prejudices about you.
I win even though I lose and keep losing and what I lose hurts me more than everyone else.
I lose because I’m so busy pushing everyone into tinier and tinier boxes that show just how far away from me they are that I haven’t got time to think about what would happen if I wasn’t. I haven’t got time to think about what might happen if I stopped shouting and reached out to people in a way that doesn’t infer they are mentally subnormal if they don’t agree with me. I haven’t got time to think about what would happen if I listened. I haven’t got time to think about the fact that by shouting and boxing, boxing and shouting, I’m doing to others exactly what I am shouting that others are doing to me. I haven’t got time to think about the fact that if I want the world to be a better place, maybe I need stop looking into what I think is the face of hatred and derision, when all I’m actually doing is looking at my own reflection. I haven’t got time to think about the fact that if I changed, the world around me would change, and that reflection would be different and I could stop shrinking the world and start opening up. I haven’t got time to face up to the fact that actually it’s not you I’m angry at or scared of, it’s me, and that if equality for all really did exist, then I wouldn’t have anyone else to blame for my stuff but me.’
Or, in a nutshell.
‘Take your feminist agenda and fuck off.’
Anyway. Read the book. It’s great.