In something of an “aha!” moment recently, I was chatting to J about the problems he has when women our age bond over things that happened or were fashionable in the ’90s. The main problem, it turns out, is that J is not a woman. And so fashion more or less passed him by. As did a lot of the objectionable messages peddled by girls’ magazines. (There, wasn’t that a neat segue?!)
Top of today’s list: “boyfriends come and go, but friendships last forever”.
- “boyfriends” – heteronormative
- “come and go” – probably true, but dismisses the value of young romantic/ sexual relationships
- “friendships” – although not explicitly stated, refers to female friendships; everybody knows boys are only after one thing (eleventy!)
- “last forever” – utter bullshit
This kind of crap is particularly nasty for anybody who has had a female friend whose friendship soured, or became bullying, or just dwindled into nothing. It becomes just another way in which you, as a teenage girl, are doin it rong. Because clearly, if a friendship fails, it’s a Really Bad Thing, because friendships last forever! And if a friend acts in ways you don’t want them to, you’re less likely to say so – or to extricate yourself from that bad relationship, because, as everybody knows, friendships last forever!
Or perhaps, as a teenage girl, you really will end up in a situation where you feel you have to choose between your boyfriend and your female friend. And that is no fun at all. Because then, by even feeling torn, you’re doin it rong. Because even if your boyfriend is respectful, and kind, and considerate, and all those other reasons you might have for, you know, liking him as a person, well, clearly, boyfriends come and go. He can’t be worth anything to you, because – since boyfriends come and go – you’re pretty much guaranteed to be worth nothing to him anyway. Duh. And even if your friend has long since stopped being even friendly, friendships last forever. And if you can’t save it, that means you were a crap friend. And crap friends have no friends. And you wouldn’t want to be a loner, now would you?
It’s a shame, because the idea that romantic relationships don’t have to last forever’n’ever is a good one, and needs to be said more, especially with all of the stalker=romantic cliches around in the media, and if I were forced to choose between, say, the Twilight series and this message, I’d choose boyfriends come and go like a shot. But there’s no point trying to tell young women that romantic relationships don’t have to last forever, if the way you go about doing that is to say “but this non-romantic relationship totally will last forever, otherwise you fail at life”. Because it’s disingeneous, it doesn’t stop treating young women as failures – just transfers the way in which they’ve failed – and, more to the point, it’s wrong. It’s just wrong.
So, last night, under the influence of the lurgy, I decided I would watch the first episode of The Apprentice.
As you may or may not know, depending on your luck in avoiding the damned thing, each series starts off with the contestants being split into two equal groups, based on whether they are “boys” or “girls”. Except that this year, there are eight women and only seven men, as one of the men pulled out before filming began. They are then given a task to perform, in their groups, which will inevitably be something that is designed to be “beneath” them. By which I mean that it is clear that nobody expects these privilleged, well-educated, weathly-looking people to have, for example, sold fish at a market stall. Or, as in yesterdays’ episode, cleaned for money (as opposed to cleaning their own homes, supposing that they actually do that).
Ten minutes in to the programme, after swearing loudly and violently at my laptop twice, I turned it off in disgust.
Given the nature of the task, I’m sure you can guess why I was swearing. But, to reiterate: the contestants were split into groups defined by gender, and then told to set up a cleaning business.
Five minutes in, in a taxi that is taking the men to their starting point, one of the men says:
“well, come on! It’s cleaning! How hard can it be? My wife cleans all the time…. no, that’s a joke.”
Call me a humourless feminist if you must, but I’ve always thought that if you have to say that something was a joke, it wasn’t fucking funny.
A few minutes after that, with the womens’ team sitting around a table, they have asked everybody and ascertained (surprise, surprise!) that no, nobody has any experience of industrial-scale cleaning. Almost immediately afterwards, one of the women, giving a “pep talk”, says:
“We’ve got to win this! There are more of us that there are of them… and besides, it’s cleaning!”
Yes, well spotted. It’s cleaning, and none of you have any experience. But presumably, you’ll know what to do by instinct, being women. Wow. It’s beyond me why the cleaning companies that I’ve tried to join ask for experience at all! I could just say to them, “hey, don’t worry – I’m a woman! I don’ t need experience when I’ve got a womb! FACT!”
To be honest, it’s probably a good thing that it was full of stupid, nasty stereotypes before anything had really happened. Because the episodes are an hour each week, and I don’t want to waste a whole precious hour on stupidity like that. Although I’ll admit to having to fight the compulsion to carry on watching it, much in the same way that people slow down to look at crashes on the road.
To the person that found my blog – and actually clicked on the link! – by searching WordPress for “girls kissing”…
I’m sure you’ve become aware of this by now, but this site is not porn.
It is specifically not child porn.
Please feel free to wank off elsewhere. Oh, and next time, please revise your search term to “women kissing”, so as to appear less creepy.