In that instance [of my miscarriage], my body had decided that that baby was not to be and had ended it. This time, it is my mind that has decided that this baby was not meant to be. I don’t believe one’s decision is more valid than the other. They both know me. They are both equally capable of deciding what is right.
There’s a realization that I came to writing the book: that often so much of being a woman is about keeping secrets. True things about being a woman—bleeding, masturbating, being pregnant, giving birth, the way that we get obsessed with relationships, bad boyfriends, having sexism happen to us—they’re all things that we try to keep secret. You’re supposed to cover all that stuff up and sort of deal with it quietly on your own. Not let anyone smell your smells or see your stains or know the bad things happening in your heart or the things that confuse you. And you’re kind of led to believe that if you’re ever truthful about all these bad things, you’d be kind of socially ostracized, and people would point at you and you would be punched in the street. The thing that I’ve realized and I think Lena Dunham has realized is if you actually do say these things nothing bad happens. People don’t have a go at you and you aren’t socially ostracized and what actually happens is all these women go, “Oh, that’s really fucking funny and that happened to me.” And that’s the only thing that happens. The secret is it doesn’t need to be a secret. You can be socially accepted and tell the truth about what it is to be a woman.
“In 2010, Iceland- with a lesbian prime minister, and a parliment which is 50 per cent female- became the first country in the world to outlaw strip clubs for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. ‘I guess the men of Iceland will have to get used to the idea that women are not for sale’, Gundrun Jonsdottir campaigned for the law change, said. I don’t think that’s an idea that will do men, their bank balances or the women they come across anything but good. Men don’t have to see tits and fannies. They won’t die if they don’t have access to a local strip joint. Tits aren’t, like, Vitamin D or something. “
So, yes: let us be clear. There is a world of difference between “women doing something” and “it being a matter for feminism”. Lest we forget, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of social, sexual and political equality to men”. It’s got nothing to do with a Daily Mail journalist on a deadline pointing to her arse and saying, “See this? It’s hawt.”
But if you had a Google alert for every time “feminism” is mentioned in an article (I do. I also have ones for “Ghostbusters”, “The Muppets” and “Serge Gainsbourg picture smoking”. Please do not judge me), you would not believe this to be the case. Man, you have to feel for feminism, being routinely dragged in to arbitrate on any argument that involves women, like a mum being involved in every argument between siblings (“MUUUUUM! She’s TOUCHING my BED!” “FEMINISM! A WOMAN did a THING!” etc).
But the problem with battling yourself is that even if you win, you lose. At some point - scarred, and exhausted - you either accept that you must become a woman - that you are a woman - or you die. This is the brutal root truth of adolescence - that it is often a long, painful campaign of attrition. Those self-harming girls, with the latticework of razor-cuts on their arms and thighs, are just reminding themselves that their body is a battlefield. If you don’t have the stomach for razors, a tattoo will do; even just the lightning snap of the earring gun in Claire’s Accessories. There. There you are. You have dropped a marker-pin on your body, to reclaim yourself, to remind you where you are: inside yourself. Somewhere. Somewhere in there.
There is no law that says… a high-flying female banker can’t earn the big dough while her man stays at home, writing slim volumes of poetry. No law against it. Only the law of Nature,” he writes, sadly. And in this he is, of course, correct. For if there is one thing that photosynthesis has proved time and time again, it is that Tony Parsons’ wife must earn less than him. It is an observable fact, noted in all the great studies of biology.
When people suggest that what, all along, has been holding women back is other women, bitching about each other, I think they’re severely overestimating the power of a catty zinger during a fag break. We have to remember that snidely saying ‘Her hair’s a bit limp on top’ isn’t what’s keeping womankind from closing the 30 per cent pay gap and a place on the board of directors. I think that’s
more likely to be down to tens of thousands of years of ingrained social, political and economic misogyny and the patriarchy, tbh.
Because the purpose of feminism isn’t to make a particular type of woman. The idea that there are inherently wrong and inherently right “types” of women is what’s screwed feminism for so long - this belief that “we” wouldn’t accept slaggy birds, dim birds, birds that bitch, birds that hire cleaners, birds that stay at home with their kids, birds that have pink Mini Metros with “Powered by Fairy Dust” bumper stickers, birds in burkas, or birds that like to pretend, in their heads, that they’re married to Zach Braff from Scrubs, and that you sometimes have sex in an ambulance while the rest of the cast watch and, latterly, clap. You know what? Feminism will have all of you.
What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be.
Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.