The other day someone (a dude) asked me why women are so pissed off these days. Instead of punching him in throat and screaming “Because of you motherfuckers!!”, I took a breath and told him to look around him. Predictably I didn’t finish my sentence before my piece was derailed by a #notallmen remark and I’m quite certain none of my points got through his thick skull. Doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying though.
I feel like I’m angry all the time these days. Angry I have to get a bus home after dark for fear of walking home alone, angry I can’t finish a sentence without being interrupted. Angry every time I pick up a paper or log onto Twitter and read another story about another man abusing his position. Angry for every one of the women I know who has a #metoo story.
I’m pissed about all my own experiences. For the time a man told me he could rape me if he wanted to outside Sydney bus station when I was 20. For being followed home more than once but most recently in my own sleepy hometown. For last Christmas when a stranger grabbed my arse at our works do and squeezed it really fucking hard, like it was his right.
I’m angry for all the times my nasty ex told me I was lucky he wasn’t the type to hit a woman. For all the times he told me I needed psychiatric help and my mother agreed with him (she didn’t obviously but he wanted me to believe she did, as if they were in cahoots. As if). And for the time he bullied me into going topless on the beach in Barcelona and simultaneously poisoned my memory of that beautiful city.
Most of all I’m fucking furious he made me hate and blame myself for letting it happen, and for making me question my place on this earth.
I don’t hate men but they make me angry. Of course not all fucking men but every single man has a responsibility to be better and that is a fact. They might not directly hurt women but laughing when their friend makes a Harvey Weinstein joke is part of the problem (and so much more besides). We can all be better and I know I’m not perfect either. I’ve turned a blind eye many times in the past just so I don’t come off as a rabid feminist killjoy.
No more. I will be better and so will the men in my life. I demand it.
This last week has been vicious. I’ll go into it more some time but the short story is: my mother-in-law passed away last week, suddenly. She was 56 which is no age at all and it fucking sucks. It sucks all the sweaty balls in the world.
It sucks that I’ll never see her again, that she’ll never give me another anecdote for the file, that we’ll never talk about her past or how she should write it all down. We’ll never have words again or slag anyone off together. She’ll never press a crisp twenty into my palm and tell me to get us a takeaway on the way home.
And it sucks most of all that it hurts the person I love the most, and that I can’t do anything to take it away.
So, I’m dedicating my annual International Women’s Day post to Gina first, a woman who took no shit ever, who’ll inspire me from now on to care just that little bit less about what people think – and to live my life with gusto. And, of course, to the rest of the amazing women in this world. I would be an empty husk of dusty air without you – and I will fight, every day as much as can for each of you.
To the women I know, to the ones I admire – to all the women and the riot grrrls out there – the loud ones, the quiets ones, the ones in between – I bloody love you all.
As women we are always told we’re too much of something. Too blokey, too aggressive, too bitchy, too made up – it can be anything but it is always prefixed with ‘too’ like there’s an invisible line on all the things we’re allowed to be so long as we stay successfully behind it. I’m tired.
Me, I am too nervous, too sensitive, too nice (that’s the best one), too loud (did I say these are all subject to featcontradiction?) and too concerned with other people’s opinions. I get too upset when someone says something completely inappropriate and then I am too weak to say anything back (or too shocked). Too cowardly to take it further, too concerned it will be me who comes off worst.
I’m making a stand. I am not too anything. I’m the perfect blend of just right and anyone who thinks otherwise can stick it where the sun don’t shine. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life preoccupied with the opinions of the people that don’t matter.
And before any of “the men” get offended, I know you’re often subject to the same sort of bullshit. But I can bet you’re never too passive or too sensitive. Definitely never too flirty, slutty or stuck up.
So, the question is, what kind of “too” are you? 🙄
“Most men” don’t like make-up on girls. Most men best believe that no woman spends the money she does on make-up to impress them. It’s maybe a shocking concept but all the women I know enjoy make-up for themselves and other women. Simple, innit?
Make-up for me has always been a form of war paint. I had terrible skin up until about five years ago so some of the things I put on my face were questionable, but men would often ask me why I wore so much foundation and what was wrong with my face?
My complexion got better but I haven’t forgotten those tactless comments from the male sex, like they ever had any right. And don’t get me started on the “black stuff” around my eyes. This is, and always has been my look of choice, and I happen to feel very comfortable with an aesthetic championed by punks and princesses throughout history.
Likewise, I often enjoy being completely naked (and the face too), you think all these natural-look loving men think I look like a goddess then? LOL.
So, gents: If you don’t like foundation, false lashes and brightly coloured lips, don’t fucking wear them!
Having and talking about periods
Women bleed, it’s just how it works. It’s annoying sometimes and often painful but it’s part of the deal and that is that. I won’t pretend I don’t get a kick out of talking graphically about my monthly visitor. The fact that it makes some people (men) feel uncomfortable gives me power.
My husband and I like to think up the most visceral ways to describe being on the blob, though I’ve not found a better one than “Shark Week” yet. Not original obvs but very clever.
While on the subject of periods, I often think of my old best friend and her delight in banging her female partners when they were “on”. There was no squeamishness between them at all and I think we can all take a leaf out of that book. It’s all down to personal taste of course, and there’s no way I feel like doing it on my period all the time but you know what I’m saying. There’s definitely a place for period sex.
Yeah, I’m so not sorry for being fat. I’m not sorry to anybody. I’ve got to the point now that I accept who I am and while I don’t think fat should define a person, I think being body positive is a very important part of who I am and I want to keep going with that. Let’s see where it takes this fine arse, eh?
Being like other girls
Is there a more irritating phrase than “Well, I’m not really like other girls”? Or indeed to hear somebody say it to you. It’s the ultimate backhanded compliment, implying that the rest of your gender sucks arse. They do not suck, the person who says this does. The end.
Talking about sex
This has always been my favourite subject, not least because by talking about it I can work out if I’m doing it right! Ever since my friend Frances asked me loudly across a table in a busy beer garden if I was “a squirter”, I’ve been much more comfortable with sex talk. Ever since I started having incredible sex really.
Before I met my husband, I’d giggle about penises but man, was I having a lot of very disappointing shags. Like, the worst. It should also be said that it pays to be sensitive to the friends who aren’t into similar chat, not everybody wants to hear about banging and cocks.
This is the greatest thing I have ever learned to do. What a gift to be able to give myself an orgasm.
Sometimes this is hard and sometimes this is something I question but I will never be sorry about calling someone out for saying something I disagree with. I am working constantly on that. A healthy, calm conversation with opposing views can throw up some interesting things to think about.
In contrast though, sometimes there’s no discussion to be had. Rape jokes, blatant misogyny or sexism (and the rest) should be dealt with without ceremony. People don’t have to agree on everything but that kind of talk deserves to be shut down there and then.
I’m going to go light on the intro this week because I’m pretty sure this month’s theme speaks for itself. Yes, it’s Feminist Film Month up in this joint (also over at Jill’s). Men are allowed but they better shut the hell up, is all I’m saying.
ARRANGED centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn.
Rochel (Lister-Jones) and Nasira (Benhamou) are both first year teachers at a school in Brooklyn. Although polite to one another and their peers, they don’t really start to communicate until a couple of kids call them up on their ‘opposing’ religions in class. Since Rochel is Jewish and Nasira is Muslim, the children wonder if the women hate each other.
This line of questioning prompts an exercise between the women and children called a ‘Unity Circle’, which is a success in showing the kids that friendship is a choice. Off the back of this exercise a friendship between Rochel and Nasira begins to blossom. And the theme of choice runs tidily throughout the film.
You see, our heroines are both in similar situations within their families, which basically means on the market for husbands, which they ain’t picking themselves, knowwhati’msayin’? (And hence the movie’s title). Or rather they do get final say, but from a list of potential suitors presented to them by their families – with mixed results.
As the women bond they start to share their ‘arrangement’ stories. Nasira is envious that Rochel at least gets to go on dates away from the family, while her own meetings are supervised closely by her firm but loving family.
Meanwhile, at school, Principal Jacoby (Marcia Jean Kurtz) shows her ignorance by pulling the two friends into her office and offering them money to go and buy designer clothes (which to be fair I would have taken out of principle). She cannot deal with the fact such pretty girls are holding on to their religious ideals in this day and age. I mean, I have my own views about religion too, lady but it’s none of our damn business.
This only makes the women stand their ground and they do push back, making it clear that they choose to dress the way they do and live the way they live. It’s an important point to be made, although they adhere to traditional values, both women choose to do so. This is something Nasira also touches upon nearer the beginning of the film when the new teachers are forced to go around in a circle and say a little bit about themselves. She is clear about it being her choice to wear the headscarf.
Sick of the disappointing dating pool, Rochel begins to upset her mother Sheli (Lieber), grandmother Elona (Doris Belack) and master-matchmaker Miriam (Peggy Gormley) with her negative attitude. Her dates are a mixed bag of misfits, all good Jewish boys on paper but somewhat lackluster in the flesh.
After an argument with her mother, Rochel goes to see her cousin Leah (Alysia Reiner) in the city to get a glimpse of life outside her faith. Leah talks to her about her own quality of life without religion and how open-minded it all is, but the threat of being isolated from the family seems to weigh on Rochel. She loves the fuckers after all. The cousins go to a party where Rochel gets a tiny taste of the life that might be out there for her, but after dancing with a hot hunk she freaks out and returns home.
Nasira is also having doubts about her path when her parents make her meet with a friend of the family, a bolshy man over 20 years older than her. EW. When she puts her foot down and refuses the match, her lovely father says he just wants her to have what he has with her mother. Despite this setback, Nasira finds herself crushing on the next match…
Rochel too enjoys a brief connection with an Orthodox Jew friend of Nasira’s brother. They share a sexy look in the library by chance but Nasira’s brother later refuses to hook them up. This forces Nasira to take matters into her own hands and is reminiscent of the things we used to do in school to get our friend’s crushes to notice them. I therefore loved it.
There is of course an ending and an outcome for both potential love interests but I can’t possibly spoil it for you here (but will probably do so below, in my summary). If you think this movie sounds like your cup of tea then I would suggest you find out for yourselves.
This is a sweet, gentle film with a nice ending. There’s no real conflict here, apart from a bit of discomfort when the friends visit each other’s homes. Which is fine but it just sort of trickles along and the conclusion is so neat that it’s slightly annoying. I mean, it’s nice that both women get what they want but when is life ever like that?
I would have been more satisfied if at least one of them had refused to marry so young and had gone off on their own path – or they had got together with each other. Still, this film is about choice and these women made their own and that’s the point. Right?
Both lead actresses are great but the characters themselves are so bland that they can’t possibly stick in the memory. There’s just no room for them next to Norma Desmond, The Foxy Merkins and the We Are The Best grrrls. Amirite, Jillian?!
This is a film that takes a gentler approach to feminist themes, the main one being that both women are free, they just choose to take a more traditional path. Which is what their families want for them, and what religion dictates.
It’s easy to be frustrated by this but many women do the same. Not all feminism is Doctor Martens and smashing the patriarchy, after all. Both young women are successful and intelligent with good careers in front of them, and neither of them are willing to settle.
3.5/5. Nice. As if nice isn’t the most boring thing to be labelled.
What does my partner-in-crime think? Why don’t you pop on over and see if she thought this one was a match or a crushing, creepy disappointment. ❤
All girls to the front. All girls.
I will read feminist books.
I will watch movies by women.
To coin a meme: I will speak the truth even if my voice shakes.
Other people’s bodies, clothing, make up, faces are none of my damn business.
Being feminist doesn’t make me a man-hater (some of my best friends are men).
Inner strength comes in all manner of guises, and I’m hard as nails.
I won’t let anyone define feminism for me.
I accept that I will get it wrong sometimes, and people who call me out are trying to help me be a better feminist.
I am like other women.
This manifesto will be ever changing, just like I am.
I’ve been thinking about feminism lately and what it actually means to me. This came up a while back during a discussion in which one of my friends told another what it means to be a feminist. While the fundamentals are usually the same woman to woman, I think it means different things to different people and rightly so. Also, how dare you tell another person what to think?!
I can say hand on heart that I identify strongly as feminist, particularly over the last five years as I’ve grown and changed an awful lot. But I know I can be a much better feminist. I have so much to learn, to read, to understand – how could I ever be done?
A lot is said about the type of feminist who rolls out the notion of claiming to be one just to serve themselves. This has got me thinking (Carrie Bradshaw head tilt):
Am I guilty of the same? Do I let things slide when I could speak up for all women and not just women like me?
Supporting women after all must mean supporting ALL women and that’s what I want to do. But how, and what can I do? This is a rhetorical question, one to which I must seek the answer. My own answer.
In addition, I must not be afraid of the ‘label’ and think less about people trying to shut me down. This I know is something I worry about in polite circles. With friends I can froth at the mouth and let it all hang out, the workplace is very different. But I don’t want to be the girl who only goes so far. I want to stamp my feet and call people out. Be true. Be strong.
I’m not always Ms. Vocal in life, I’m definitely not the one who shouts loudest. People talk over me sometimes but I can find a way to be strong and eloquent my way, I know I can. There is a place for me, even if it’s not on the front line. People need to bring up the rear too.
I will find it. (Who knows, maybe it is the front line? Maybe it’s far beyond that?)
So this month I’m declaring it Feminist February here on A Voluptuous Mind. I’m going to try to focus on feminist topics, Jill and I are doing feminist films, and I’m going to see where it takes me. We need feminism more than ever, President Dump and his band of Bigoted Men are proof of this.
Every single day too, in ‘real life’ there is a reminder that we need it, and I’m going to be part of it.
I stole this idea from last month’s Cosmopolitan, not going to lie. It was lying around in the gym last night and I take my inspiration where I can get it. Cosmo’s version has more of a single girl flavour though, choosing to celebrate the solo babes of cinema in line with the release of Bridget Jone’s Baby.
I’m just picking the 8 movie women I’d most like to hang with and why, because why wouldn’t I? It’s an awesome plan.
In no particular order:
Who? Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Why? Look, Lisbeth isn’t exactly warm and fluffy, I know this. Hugs might be a little light on the ground but when it comes to loyalty, there’s nobody more so. I’m all about that and appreciate it in friends. Plus, if I accidentally ever send a dodgy email to somebody, who better than Lisbeth to intercept it before it gets read? What she’d teach me: How to actually use my laptop for more than just streaming Netflix and buying toot.
Who? Beatrix Kiddo AKA The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2) Why? She’s just very cool and focused. I could use inspiration like that in my life. She also has the whole revenge thing down pat so I know, if anyone ever really hurt me, she’d have some tips on how to deal. What she’d teach me: How to be handy with the Japanese steel, or failing that, a stick from the park.
Who? Alabama Worley, née Whitman (Patricia Arquette, True Romance) Why? Alabama is sweetness personified with, like me, a love of martial art movies and pie. She also believes in true love and girl, you got me there. Love is the only thing that really matters in life as far as I’m concerned, be it romantic, parental, whatever – there’s a reason it makes the world go round. What she’d teach me: How to be creative and strong in a fight, whilst rocking the shit out of leopard print and candy-coloured Lycra.
Who? Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary) Why? Mary would be the hot friend I had a bit of a thing for. She’s an academic but she’s also open to trying new and bizarre things. The desire to accompany her on these adventures would hopefully rub off on me. She’d likely be the most open-minded of the gang and ferociously feminist, which is fine by me. What she’d teach me: To express myself better. How to be braver when I get piercings.
Who? Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy, Ghostbusters) Why? She’s so fun and smart, and rocks a boiler suit like nobody’s business. She’s also not afraid to fight for what she believes in (ghosts), even when the rest of the world is rolling their eyes at her and her team. She’d probably make me look cleverer just by association. What she’d teach me: Sciencey shit and how to wield a proton pack (like I wouldn’t ask to try it).
Who? Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls) Why? Not technically a ‘big screen’ character but Emily stays. (She was in Dirty Dancing and a load of other films, what more do you want from me?). Em might seem like a controversial choice with a few decades on the rest of us but man is she good fun. Appreciates a damn good drink, always comes through for her loved ones and is the sassiest person in the Stars Hollow area (yes I know she’s a way out of town). You’d always be drunk and/or laughing your arse off round Emily’s. What she’d teach me: How to burn my haters with the flick of my tongue (not like that, you pervs).
Who? Margaret (Lisa Haas, The Foxy Merkins) Why? Why not? She’s so adorable. A bit bumbling but then so am I. She’s a hooker in the loosest sense of the word and one could argue, the worst of all time which just makes her more endearing. Margaret would most certainly be the ‘Bad Sex’ storyteller of the group. TBH I’ve just been reminded of the single best quote in cinematic history, uttered by Margaret about her plus size vagina to “The Mumbling Erotic Accessory Salesman” trying to sell her a merkin. What she’d teach me: How to be resourceful when I’m down and out.
Who? Barb Holland (Shannon Purser, Stranger Things) Why? Barb’s another small screen sensation but I was hardly going to exclude her from my dream girl gang, was I? Every squad needs a sensible type and Barb’s not a great drinker, is the designated driver and will worry about my morals for me (although p. sure that ship has sailed and circled the globe several times already). I’d keep her away from pools and beer cans though, she’s a bit of a liability. What she’d teach me: To make the right decisions. Maybe. Probably not. But she’d try.
There’s been a lot of public pussy talk over the last few weeks and I’m here to tell you that there’s only one Pussy I’m interested in, apart from my own, and his name is Pudding. (See also: Bertha Mason).
I’m not saying the cretin’s name because I’m trying not to invoke him. I wouldn’t put it past that dinosaur to be in possession of prehistorical (and supernatural) powers that allow him to manifest himself beside his haters, ripe for grabbing (us, not him obvi).
Can we make a deal here that grabbing of any sort, of the pussy, of an arm, of the brain is prohibited? I’m tired of fearing men, of having to look directly ahead and pretending to be deaf just to get home in one piece – and monsters like Flump, openly encouraging men to just kiss the women they like the look of, or grab them by the vulva is just setting everything back decades. It’s positively archaic.
Let’s also agree that, if you don’t have a vagina, you do not get to have an opinion? The (cis) men on Twitter who are so adamant a woman can’t physically be grabbed by their vagina in the first place need to stay in their lanes. Tell that to the women who know only too well that it is possible. It is sexual assault, nothing less.
Everything Flump says and does is disgusting, don’t get me wrong. His racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments are something else and I can’t quite get to grips with the concept of such an openly hateful person but he exists. He’s a joke but what he says is no longer “What’s the old fuck said now?” bemusing, it’s poison. I’m terrified for the future of the US and the world if he continues.
While we’re here, a little aside to the numb nut who can’t tell the difference between a womb and a bladder. Back to Basic Female Anatomy 101 with you, you dufus. Women can’t simply cross their legs to keep their periods from coming. Stop talking please.
I’m sure there’s a rule in the Social Media Handbook somewhere about reblogging compliments. IDEK.
I’ve shared the lovely Lydia’s post anyway because I feel so strongly about the Girl Power element to this series of posts. A little while back she sent me a questionnaire about Feminism and other topics which I answered as truthfully as possible. Some of the questions really got me thinking and it was all quite emotional.
I hope you enjoy both the questions themselves and my answers.
One spring I met Christa at the shop in Brighton’s famous Laines where we were both doing nail art in a tattoo studio. The very tiny upstairs of this shop was packed full of creative and interesting people. The majority of us were women and fantastically strong and talented ones. Christa’s nail art was far superior to mine and I enjoyed watching her work as well as forming a friendship with this forthright woman.
The business fell through but we have kept in contact via social media and supporting one anothers blogging endeavours. A strong willed, funny, creative and smart woman with a penchant for bearded men; Mrs Bass is my kind of lady. A champion of supporting other women, I knew Christa’s answers would be truthful as well as insightful. Enjoy her answers and check out her blog once you’re more acquainted.