Casual sexism is making comebacks, not just coming back.
Women are w whole lot wittier and less subduable than we were. That antiquated 60s resignment of kitsch to the kitchen is so abhorred now that FEMINISM is a whole being on its own, not just a whispered idea at a womans’ only book club or afternoon tea ceremony.
Feminism is something that’s not so much grown legs as grown the ability to breathe fire and propel rockets out its ass! We aren’t afraid to tell a man to get the fuck up off his lazy ass and get himself whatever he is asking for, if it’s derogatory. Coz, you know, if you’re in the kitchen already and he’s just asking for a coffee, to say no would be, you, know… kinda bitchy.
Females in general are the “fairer sex” but that doesn’t mean we are the “softer” sex. We have strength and ability, ambition and creativity – but that’s old news. No one wants to hear that about women. Where’s the new angle? Honestly, even the word “FEMINISM” to me is a little discriminative – we’re already a separate gender, do we really need another label to be further distance from the so-called dominant males?
Honestly, there shouldn’t have to be one, yet it’s an ever-evolving subject. These cute ideas of what women should be, like being in the kitchen and making sandwiches all hours of the day and night are changing too (by the way, the amount of sandwich jokes I hear in a week would suggest that every woman on earth should be feeding about 2000 people a day; I would like to be shown one person with that many male mouths to feed or even one person capable of munching that many sandwiches – men who request these, prove to me you can eat the number of sandwiches you request and them consider me impressed).
Now, the idea of the perfect woman has changed. It involves big boobs, make-up and a dependence on the man to save you from the bother of responsibility. You need to look only at most action movies to see this. Exceptions to the rule are slowly on the increase, thought they’ve been around for years. Unfortunately, most of them could be found only in literature. And not the sort that guys were likely to pick up. One of my favourite female writer, Laurie Penny, recently wrote an excellent post for the New Statesman about this. Link HERE. Also, she starts some really interesting convos on Twitter.
My favourite book for example, is The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman. For those of you (crazies) who haven’t read it (why the hell not, it’s awesome!?) may need some educating. Aside from it being the awe-inspiring concluding part in one of the greatest, most life changing trilogies ever penned, film watchers might be aware of the (extremely poorly made) film adaptation of the first book, Northern Lights, aka. The Golden Compass.
The protagonist, Lyra, formed my idea of what a proper children’s book heroine should be. She was (is, is, Lyra will never die in the Neverland of my most intense childhood memories) what I considered to be the perfect character for the books that would pretty much influence and help form my opinion on everything from religion to relationships to the evolution of people as people. What makes you take certain actions? How can an opinion change so drastically with the passage of time? How can the dreamland of a childhood playpen, safety net, the enclosed treasure chest of home, suddenly stop being so, and transform into an extension of a world of suspicion and fear, full of people who seek to exploit and who do not have you best interests at heart?
The answer was simple: because we grow up.
In my head, at the time, there was no question as to whether it was her gender that instilled her with such strength and resilience. These were attributes and by-products of her other, sexless qualities; fair-play, a non-judgmental, trusting view of the world through the child-like innocence of rose-tinted specs and the lack of knowledge of the gender divide. Her best friend was a boy. She abhorred “dressing up”. Was a tom boy of a most determined level. She personified a certain androgyny that made her so attractive to read about. I was frustrated at the lack of interest in reading from my male classmates, pawning the practice off as “nerdy” (at the time a less than fashionable label to be assigned).
As time passed Lyra grew to become a young woman, as she experienced more of life and formed herself as a person rather than a child, yet lost none of the qualities that made her so enticing a character to begin with. Her increasing femininity added to the robustness of her persona and added flesh to the embodiment she gave to the representations Phillip Pullman was trying to convey – about the importance of youth, and the equal importance of losing it. She was a hero despite gender, fighting alongside grown men and being accompanied by a boy her own age. She was not only equal, she was respected. Her individual merits and unique talents were valued. A boy might admire the way she shunned her feminine ways. A girl might admire how she wore them while giving as good as she got.
It is characters like this which are becoming more common in literature and film. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games being the big one recently. She, to me, is like an older version of Lyra. A fighter, a motivator, an action taker in the face of danger who can still rock a skirt should it take her fancy. But most of all, a protector and freedom fighter.
So as far as feminism goes, this is what I want to see more of. Not so much androgyny as equality. For women to be looked upon by everyone as whatever they want to be seen as, rather than just pretty little objects. If they exude strength, then treat them with respect. If they want to be nerdy, take an interest rather than scorn them.
We women have minds and we enjoy using them. Men should take note and deal.