Sometimes I get annoyed. I get angry. I rant. I do things that would be normal in a man. In a woman? Oh no. That’s undignified. It’s shrewish. It’s strident. It’s outspoken. It’s hysterical (and I don’t mean funny. I really do not mean funny). It’s all these things but for a woman it isn’t fucking normal. Apparently.
What do I get angry about? Oh bloody everything. All the bloody time. And then I get told I shouldn’t be angry and guess what? That really pisses me off. I get angry because it’s 2016 and apparently some employers have only just realised that you can’t force women to wear high heeled shoes. And I get angry at that advert that says women expect their feet to hurt in heels and they should wear these gel inserts in their shoes when really what I think they should be doing is buying brogues. Or trainers. Or anything that doesn’t cause them actual pain. And painful footwear shouldn’t be normalised with gel inserts. Although the good news is that the review that said they will melt and ruin your shoes did make me smile for a second or two.
I get angry when I’m trying to find a film to watch and I see a listing that describes Fifth Element as a film starring Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman as if Milla Jovivich doesn’t fucking exist except as window dressing. Which let’s face it is what Hollywood thinks women are but I don’t want my TV channel guide bloody well colluding with them and writing women out of the cast altogether. And Leeloo is key to the damn plot so include the actor who plays her as one of the stars ffs.
I get annoyed that female Disney characters get so little dialogue even when they’re main characters. And I get really, really annoyed at the way women’s voices are so appropriated that everyone thinks they talk more than they actually do. And I get annoyed that the Bechdel test exists and that even though all it asks is that a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man half of all films fail it.
And I get annoyed about CVs and publishing and research track records. Because by putting “Helen” on my CV instead of “Henry” everyone will downgrade it. Because even J.K. Rowling couldn’t publish under a female first name. Because my research funding and every other bastard thing will be curtailed and judged more harshly because I’m female.
Of course this makes me bloody furious, although being a woman I’m not allowed to be bloody furious. Which makes me incandescent.
I get annoyed when someone says Man when they mean Humans. Except apparently I’m not supposed to be angry about this because it’s just a word and I’m being Over Sensitive. The same way that I’m Over Sensitive about bikes and women’s bikes. About sport and women’s sports. About always being the add on, the outsider, the thing outside the norm. The bloody fucking other instead of the “neutral” template. I’m never the normal. Never the established thing from which others vary. I’m the bloody variant. And yes, “bloody” in that last sentence is not necessarily a swear word. Also, I find none of these things funny. If you want me to be a humourless, joyless, hairy-legged feminist I’ll embrace that with pride. Because I don’t care if you judge my looks positively. I don’t care if you judge my looks negatively. I care that you think a woman should be judged for her looks when I am so much more than that.
And you know what puts the tin lid on the whole damn thing? When someone says “I get annoyed with feminists blaming the patriarchy. Women are their own worst critics”. Really? Really? You think I hadn’t noticed that? You think I’m unaware of the extent to which we internalise the patriarchy? Of the ways in which we imbibe it and spew it back out again? Oh I know full well that women have agency and could stop wittering on about each other’s bodies and looks. But when tabloid newspapers portray them as pouting, static, supine, passive beings, when that famous sporting “newspaper” the Sun cannot include a single picture of a woman actually doing sport, do you not think that maybe, just maybe, that informs my thought patterns? That however much I want to escape from this, to see myself as active, to realise that I am more than how I look, just as every other woman is, it’s pretty fucking difficult to achieve when all the propaganda out there effectively tells me I’m just window dressing and I’d better dress properly. And get out of the window when I’m too old. And keep quiet. And not be angry. And wear 2-4 inch heels.
Except that I am angry. I am furious. And frankly, I have reason to be.