Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Woman on Woman

I'm a little embarrassed at how long it's been. Not because I feel like I've left you all (mother, Mike Fisher and Harri Notton) bereft of exciting and challenging blog updates, but because I despair to think of how many hours I've wasted on facebook/twitter/wikipedia/eating/watching Sex and the City when I could have been writing exciting and challenging blog updates. New Years' Resolution #1: Write FAR more regularly. As in at least twice a month. None of this three month dry spell shit. Nobody likes a dry spell.

The myriad issues which have riled me over the past three months are enough to fill several hundred blogs and so I must accept that I have very much 'missed the boat' on things like the Occupy movement, My Transsexual Summer, Berlusconi, Florence and her racist Machine, My Tram Experience et al. Do note that I have been feeling wildly and passionately about all above issues however. While the blog has died, my zeal for justice lives on. I'd hate for you to think that I have shut up about anything; I have merely channelled my anger into modes of communication which take less time ie. twitter and The Other F Word, the radio show Rhiannon and I wail on. Following me on twitter is like a quick slap in the face; reading my blog is like me tugging your earlobe for an hour. The latter just seems to NEVER END. And speaking of never ending, we have arrived at my topic of choice for this reunion blog. *Clears throat*: sexism. I am a master of subverting your expectations, I know.

But this isn't sexism in its most traditional sense. This isn't patriarchy and the glass ceiling and objectification. This is a specific kind of sexism which has wound me up beyond belief during this festive season. Possibly the worst type of sexism. The sexism which almost doesn't look like sexism. The sexism which gets branded as "bitchiness" or "gossip" so it slips under your sexism radar and it's only when you're home in bed that it suddenly dawns on you that you were divulging in sexism. Good grief, you think to yourself. This sexism is what I call 'woman on woman' and I find it to be the most abhorrent form of sexism there is.

Have you ever been chatting to a female friend and found the conversation slipping into the realms of cruelty? Of course, you're only human. But have you ever been chatting to a female friend and found the conversation turning to a mutual female peer/acquaintance/friends' provocative outfit she was wearing last night? Or how many men she's slept with? Or how 'slutty' she acts? Or how unattractive she is? Over the years, I have found myself in what must be hundreds of these conversations. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but I feel ashamed and repulsed at how for the longest time I bought into woman on woman hatred. And actually enjoyed it.

Woman on woman is when a woman or women verbally attacks, judges, hates on a fellow woman or women. This kind of hatred usually manifests as judgement on sexuality, identity and other life choices. I am fully aware that we are innately judgemental creatures: some judgements can be good and helpful and necessary but some judgements are products of our society's crippling attitudes and inequalities. I mean, is it really helpful or necessary to judge how many men a woman has slept with? Is that in any way significant to your friendship or who she is as a human being? As Jenna Marbles, youtube extraordinaire, once said when responding to similar issues: "Has she got your boyfriend's cock in her mouth? If the answer is no, you have no reason to hate her." Ms Marbles says a lot of questionable shit  but here, in her own crass fashion, she is entirely right. What does a woman's outfit have to do with the rest of us? If she wants to wear provocative clothing and show off the illegal part of her tights, then why on earth not? It has absolutely nothing to do with any of us and is simply a matter of taste. Some women feel comfortable expressing their bodies and their sexuality, while others don't. My anger at woman on woman hate reached a gargantuan peak recently when I discovered that according to a survey done by Amnesty International , 1 out of 4 people believe that a rape victim is partially to blame if they were wearing "sexy" clothing. 1 out of 4 people have some seriously twisted views on rape and sexuality.  Rape is caused by a rapist; flesh does not equate to a thumbs up. Why this is even still being debated is beyond me, it seems as simple as rapists being prosecuted and punished. Oh wait. However, when the hatred for sexually provocative or explicit women is so high and so fierce, we can hardly hope for better statistics.

This needs to be tackled right here and right now. The global movement 'SlutWalk' is tackling the law and the stigma (thank fuck) but it needs to be tackled in the girls' bathrooms at Jesters, where I routinely overhear women hating on the sexual endeavours of other women. It needs to be tackled on television, where "slut" or "whore" are acceptable ways in which to describe a woman and aren't deemed offensive alongside oppressive terms like "faggot" or "mong". It needs to be talked about and questioned and challenged and we need to stop accepting our fate as women. I have been called it all: a slut, frigid, a dyke, a prostitute. Every term used to sexually stigmatise under the sun. And what am I? I am whatever the hell I want to be and I am the only person that can define that. I am the only party to consistently attend all the times I've had sex so how could someone else possibly judge? And I can assure you, it's really not that interesting. The whole 'whore/virgin' dichotomy unfortunately lives on and as an English student who has done countless essays on this pair of opposites throughout history, I can tell you now - it's getting seriously dull. And at the end of each essay, I always wrap it up with the same thing: "'Whore' and 'virgin', the prevailing terminology to sexually categorise women, don't actually mean anything". It makes the last three thousand words seem pretty futile but it is the conclusion I will stubbornly continue to come to. Of course, clinically, we can say what a virgin physically is. But what is a slut? Someone who has slept with lots of men, perhaps. But what is 'lots'? It's a context specific word and therefore 'slut' has no inherent value. Slut only exists in relation to its opposite (virgin, frigid, prude etc): a woman who has had ten sexual partners is a 'slut' when in a community of women who have slept with none while a woman who has slept with ten sexual partners isn't when compared to women who have slept with fifty. So even the biggest 'slut' is only so in certain circles. She is a fair-weather slut, at best.

Have we learnt nothing from Mean Girls? In my opinion, Mean Girls is one of the best feminist films to come out of the 21st century and certainly one of the best to have ever been produced in Hollywood. This is all down to the goddess that is Tina Fey. Tina, how I love thee. Her immortal line to a gym full of angsty teenage girls is perfect: "You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores". TRUE DAT. We have got to stick together in this. And if we all stopped worrying about other womens' sex lives and concentrated on our own, maybe we'd get better at masturbating? Men seem to have perfected this over the centuries - it's probably because they don't think about what men are wearing and doing and sleeping with every ten seconds. Challenge on, ladies. New Years' Resolution #2 (this one's for all of us): Worry less about how many men other women are sleeping with and what they're wearing/Masturbate more.

If you're looking for last minute Christmas presents for women (or open-minded men OR evil bastards who need a good talking to), I'd recommend Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman. It's utterly brilliant and articulates my feelings wonderfully, with far more wit and impressive metaphor. I can't help resenting her though; I was going to write that book. Time to rethink my life plan, I guess. In the meantime, I know what I can spend more time doing...

... Blogging, obviously! Have a fabulous Christmas, my three lovely readers.