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.
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.
“Just because somebody belongs to a minority group, that doesn’t mean they’re capable of rational thought”
I’ll have to make this into a sampler, I think, and hang it on my wall, so that the next time I’m shocked to hear (for instance) that a group of lesbians have told a bisexual woman in a relationship with a man that “as soon as [she] finds a nice girlfriend, [she]’ll become a real lesbian” I can look at it and keep calm. Instead of (for instance) telling the lesbians that, if that’s true, all they need is a good boyfriend each to make them into real straight women.
Back in February, Carol Thatcher, a white woman, referred to a black man as a “golliwog”, backstage at the BBC’s The One Show, in a private conversation between her and a white man. She was subsequently sacked from the show, though she was still able to appear on the Andrew Marr Show afterwards and further display her racism.
Fast forward to this month, October, and Anton Du Beke calls his dancing partner on Strictly Come Dancing – a mixed-race woman, Laila Rouass, a “paki”, also backstage, also in a private conversation, but this time between him and Ms. Rouass. This time, the BBC is “standing by” their foul-mouthed liability.
The BBC justifies this on the grounds that Du Beke has apologised. To be fair to the man, he has indeed apologised. It’s a shame he had to spoil it by clarifying it by insisting that “I am not a racist and … I do not use racist language“. It makes one wonder what it is he’s apologising for. The rest of it boils down to him saying that he didn’t intend to be offensive; that he accepts it’s an offensive term; that he didn’t think about how others would react; and that he’s sorry if he’s offended anybody. So it’s a fairly standard industry non-apology, really – bar the part where he accepts that it’s offensive, which most non-apologies don’t do.
Frankly, in some ways I prefer to deal with people like Carol Thatcher, who at least own their racism. She didn’t give the BBC a choice – it would have been very difficult for them not to sack her. Somebody like Du Beke, though – well, as I see it, the BBC are acting like that parent in the playground, who, when they see their precious spawn kick the crap out of you, tells said spawn in a sing-song voice to “say sorry and play nicely“, and then takes the muttered “sorry… that you weren’t strong enough” as a sign that everybody is the best of bestest friends again.
And, being the nasty suspicious person I am, I have to wonder whether it’s really the apology that’s made the difference.
You know, since Carol Thatcher’s a woman in her fifties – practically retirement age for women at the BBC – who insulted a man, and Anton Du Beke is only 43, and, more importantly, a man who insulted a woman.
… Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, has been an utter douche.
Joy. Of. Joys.
You know what’s reasonable for me to need to be concerned about when I go back to uni?
My modules, my timetables, my exams, my finances, my notes… the list goes on. It’s not pleasant, granted, but it’s kind of expected that you might have to think about those things.
You know what’s not reasonable for me to need to be concerned about when I go back to uni?
Whether my male lecturers are trying to look down my top.
How a man clever enough to be a professor can be stupid enough to be such an entitled, arrogant, heteronormative, sexist shit-for-brains astounds me.
Or, you know, maybe he’s not that stupid. Maybe he was smart enough to know that he wouldn’t really get called out on it. After all, it’s only the NUS Womens’ Officer who’s objected. Not anybody important, like that spokesman from the University and Colleges Union. It’s not like anybody with any power to do anything cares.
I feel stabbity.
“The mother of his children” – a phrase usually applied to situations in which the positive attributes of a woman in a heterosexual relationship are being considered.
As though the mother – who has generally (though not always) carried the pregnancy to term and then given birth to the damned thing – has nothing to do with it!
Well. If ever I spawn, I will bloody well be refering to “the father of MY children”. So there.