The BBC informs us that the divorce rate in England and Wales is now the lowest it’s been for 29 years:
“Ayesha Vardag, a divorce lawyer involved in a landmark court win last year over a pre-nuptial agreement, said: “Our experience is that fewer couples are divorcing because fewer are marrying.””
Yesterday, I said that we should none of us feel safe if France goes ahead and bans muslim women from wearing veils. And now?
“Should the UK ban the Muslim face veil?” asks the BBC.
I suppose I should feel grateful that they’ve presented ‘both sides’ of the ‘debate’. Objectively.
Actually, fuck that. You’ve never got an obligation to present ‘both sides’, especially when one of those ‘sides’ includes UKIP.
Via the BBC website (which has only just caught up with the news that radio 4 gave me a few days ago):
“A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils…. The BBC’s Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says the reasoning behind the report is to make it as impractical as possible for women in face veils to go about their daily business.”
This is nonsensical. Worse. It’s dangerous.
Not because of OMG TERRORISTS either. It’s dangerous because this is a law specifically designed to target women from the “wrong” religion. It’s as though France – which feels predominantly christian, whatever bollocks they spout about being secular; there’s a reason they do bugger all on a Sunday – has, in a fit of masculine posturing, metaphorically shaken its fist at Islam, saying “well, muslim men, we don’t like you, so we’re going to persecute your women!”
I could analyse this to death, but I’m going to stop here, pausing only to say this:
When a country as rabidly invested in the democratic model as France is can create laws like this, that affect women, and only women, when the rulers of that kind of a nation recall that yes, they are still, after all, a patriarchy, and they can still legislate the ways they think women should dress and behave, then we are none of us safe.
Now, this is an epiphany I don’t quite know what to do with.
Fantasy books for women perpetuate a binary that makes no sense: be ordinary, with company, or be extraordinary, alone. Well, I say “ordinary”. I probably mean “feminine”. And I say “extraordinary”, but I probably mean “masculine”.
All those female leads, with no family, no female friends, only one or two men, at least one of whom they invariably end up having sex with…. To only realise now what kind of message that gave me, that it still gives me – well, it feels about as clever as the time I spent half an hour looking for my glasses, only to find them on my face.
I always wanted to be that girl.
Always alone, always the best. Never needing anybody. Especially not other women. I don’t like to write that, but it’s true. Yay for deeply entrenched misogyny. It’s always fun discovering that in yourself.
And only now do I realise that I’m not that girl, that I never was and I never could be. Not only that, but now – now I don’t want to be her anymore.
This is what happens when your breasts suddenly increase in size – it is an explosion of breast; a breastsplosion, if you will.
Because this month I have been the unimpressed victim of a breastsplosion, I’ve decided that now would be the time to start wearing bras again.
So I went to Marks and Spencers to get myself measured (I don’t own a tape measure myself, sadly) and thoroughly confused the sales woman. Just to make things clear, I was wearing a jumper, which I removed, and a strappy top, which I did not.
Her: [whilst measuring me] So, what size bra are you wearing at the moment?
Me: [surprised that she hadn’t noticed the bleedin’ obvious] Um, I’m not. [expaining] I only came here because my breasts got bigger.
Her: Oh. Well, what size bra do you normally wear?
Me: I… don’t.
Her: [gives me a confused look] Ok… well. Um. You’re a 34 D.
I managed to escape before getting a lecture on “going bra-less makes your breasts sag!!1!11!!!ELEVENTY!”
At this point, I really do wonder: why is it a problem for my breasts to sag? I mean, they’re not going to fall off (although frankly at this point, I’d hardly miss them if they did, they’ve become so annoying), and presumably my nipples will still function so I can’t imagine that the “won’t somebody PLEASE think of the CHILDREN” argument being particularly effective, so… why? Why does it matter? (And if, at this point, anybody is tempted to tell me that breasts that aren’t in bras are unattractive, all I can say is: well, I probably wouldn’t want to fuck you either.)
Evolutionary psychologists would no doubt tell me that I “see dirt” better than any man, regardless of my shortsightedness. But evolutionary psychologists would also tell me that I like the colour pink, possibly because of menstruation, so I think we can safely ignore them.
On the other hand… I do see dirt. When I have my glasses on, I see dirt all the time. I think of it as my cleaning-brain. The one that tells me that I’m a disgrace to femininity. I’m hearing from it more than usual at the moment, actually, because revising at home means that you notice the cleaning that you haven’t done. And we have hard floors (as opposed to carpet) in almost every room. You really notice the dirt when it doesn’t get ground into textiles!
I live with a man. Not a man that I’m in a relationship with – he’s a friend; we have separate bedrooms – but a man nevertheless. And this creates a certain dynamic, whether I like it or not.
For instance, I get very touchy about how much housework we both do, because I don’t want him to revert to a stereotype. I don’t want to have to ask him to “help”, because it’s his flat too. And I don’t want to divide the housework by task, because frankly, I don’t care if he doesn’t like cleaning the bathroom, it’s a life skill that he should know. Likewise, I don’t always want him to do the washing up, partly because I can wash up my own damned plates, and partly because – cynic that I am – I don’t want him to have an excuse to not do other housework.
All of this is making life quite frustrating at the moment. I don’t want to do any more of the housework than I do already, but I keep seeing the dirt. It is a dilemma. Thankfully, not one that I’m spending too much time over. My mother’s excellent example has shown me that in the long run, exerting your willpower over your own cleaning-brain and refusing to do more than your fair share makes for a more equitable household. Even if it does get a bit dusty while the other party works out that there isn’t a magic bathroom-cleaing pixie.
And one 11-year-old girl had done some research (link loads as a powerpoint presentation) into “boy, girl relationships, in other words, a girl and a boy going out with each other”.
The research was really interesting (and a bit sad) in and of itself, as she – a muslim – focussed on attitudes of different religions and found, unsurprisingly, that the majority of children of every religion she sampled, including her own, were disapproving.
But the bit that really made my heart ache was the conclusion:
“I’ve learnt a lot in this research and If I could do another research, I would research about racist bullying. Most schools in England have more white people than any other colour. Some people like to gang up on people and bully them because of their race.”
Yeah. I remember that.
Pleasing: working out that tartare sauce made from mayonnaise, chopped pickled onions and capers is actually just as nice as buying the expensive jar of premade stuff. Also, that it means that I can have as many capers as I want.
Not pleasing: forgetting to chop up the bigger potatoes I was boiling so that some of them were cooked when I came to eat, and others were not.
Cooking. It turns out you never stop learning.
My blood donor records now have a special note on them, asking whichever nurse I see to make sure I lie down for 5 minutes after I’ve finished donating, lest I do what I did the first time and collapse twice.
I was very well behaved this time round, and didn’t feel faint once. That came later, when I was in a bookshop, having convinced myself that I was fine this time. I think perhaps I destroyed my feminine credentials by immediately dropping everything I was holding and sitting down on the floor. In the fantasy section. Which wasn’t decorated in pink.