How long ago is it that women had the debate about whether feminists could wear lipstick?
Like you, I thought that that issue was dead in the water – after all, isn’t feminism supposed, at core, to be about women’s liberation? And wouldn’t any meaningful idea of liberation mean that women could choose things for themselves?
And isn’t it about women taking responsibility for themselves and their own decisions and actions?
Well, unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward, as Irene’s story and the responses to it that she received illustrate.
And it adds yet more weight to what I’ve been noticing in the last few years.
Self-appointed, unaccountable women who have decided that they hold the keys to everywoman’s experience of womanhood – of life – and will do their damnedest to foist their views onto every other woman around.
They’re fundamentalists and, like other fundamentalisms that are on the rise these days, feminist fundamentalism is also rearing its ugly head.
In various places, I find other women telling me what to do: how I should dress, how I should behave, how I should fuck (and whom). I’ve even been told that I should be afraid to walk the streets – and when I respond that I am not, I’ve been told that I’m a fool.
The Guardian newspaper, supposedly a bastion of liberal thought, lends legitimacy to this fundamentalist feminism by allowing its exponents pretty much un-challenged space in its opinion columns and online blogs.
The British government is creating dismal legislation that has comes out of an alliance between fundamentalists of feminist and religious hue.
The whole thing is full of misandry – and misandry is no better than misogyny. Indeed, it’s also full of misogyny – such feminists seem to despise the overwhelming majority of their ‘sisters’.
So get out of my life. If I want to be spanked by a man, I’ll damned well be spanked by a man – and I’ll damned well enjoy it.
If I want to wear a burgundy velvet dress, team it with a studded wrist band and idly contemplate what handbag will work best with it – I’ll do so. And I’ll damned well enjoy it.
I’ve managed to rid myself of the controls of religion on my life and thoughts; I’ve dealt with the long-term consequences of having grown up with an emotionally bullying parent, and the impact on my self image and self confidence of yo-yo and faddy dieting and weight worries since the age of 12. In oh so very many ways, I spent years in an intellectual, emotional and sexual burka, hiding from view, from life. It is absolutely no coincidence that, during those days, I hid my physical self beneath layers of drab, shapeless clothing, embarrassed and ashamed by my own body and by my own physical needs and desires.
So I am most certainly not going to start kow-towing to a bunch of women telling me how I, as a woman, should live my life now.
And it would be such a dull and colourless life, because their dull and colourless little brains are filled with bile and jealousy and the need to justify their own tawdry existences by controlling others.
Like puritans and prudes and prigs everywhere, they live in fear of anyone else having any pleasure – unless they’ve approved it first.
According to a certain view, the whole fashion thing, for instance, is a male conspiracy against women – not least, because it’s about getting women to dress for men; in a way that men like.
Let’s assume for the sake of the discussion that such a simplistic idea has some legitimacy – as we’ve discussed elsewhere, dress is partly about attracting a mate.
So what? If I want to dress to attract, why not?
If I want to dress to ‘play the game’, why not?
If I want to dress a certain way because it gives me pleasure … why not?
If I get a kick out of being aware that I attract male glances on occasion (these boobs are difficult to hide), then what on Earth, in Mother Nature’s name, is wrong with that?
The logical conclusion is that it is wrong for men to behave like … well, men. And that it is wrong for women to enjoy men behaving like … err, men.
How do we ‘solve’ this? How about all females of the species wearing burkas? Let’s stop those looks by removing temptation from men – because we all know that it’s women’s fault that men are sometimes tempted to behave badly, and therefore it’s women’s responsibility to avoid that. We know it, because the story of Adam and Eve made it clear that women are the temptresses who must be kept under control, lest they drag down decent, honest, God-fearing men.
While we’re at it, let’s return to the olden days where, in rape trials, the question of what the woman was wearing was paramount – was that short skirt or low-cut blouse ‘asking for it’?
There are times when these radical ‘feminists’ seem to have an awful lot in common with sexist bigots such as the Taliban. Indeed, they’re quite happy to make unholy alliances with religious conservatives in the West when it suits their ideas on certain issues – Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon are a case in point. What an irony! So-called feminists climbing into metaphorical bed with the very sorts of people who would limit women’s choices!
Feminism is not dead. It better hadn’t be. Because we have many, many important things that still need achieving. In the UK, for instance, equal pay is just one such thing. A real thing. A real, day-to-day, economic issue for millions of British women.
Elsewhere in the world, women are dying because a bunch of dried up old men in frocks have decided that they cannot be allowed to have control over their own bodies and their own fertility.
In parts of Pakistan, as the Taliban gain ground, girls are being barred from education.
But no: the important questions are whether women should be allowed to like handbags and green angora sweaters and lipstick. And whether they should ever dare to allow themselves to sexually play a submissive role to a male Dominant (the other way around is just about acceptable, apparently).
What spectacularly crass priorities.
Simone de Beauvoir must be spinning in her Montparnasse grave. But then again, de Beauvoir understood the value of intellectual rigour – not the sort of self-indulgent wanking that the women who would replace a patriarchy with a matriarchy like to pretend passes for ‘thought’.
Now, if you'll excuse me: I've a clothes and lippy shopping trip to plan for this evening.