The F Word

Although, growing up, it was a word I was aware of, it wasn’t one I used. Nobody else I knew used it either, except in a broadly technical sense, and even then, very occasionally. Perhaps standards have changed, and times certainly have, but I hear it everywhere I go these days. There’s no escaping it. Every newspaper, every magazine, blog and publication is f- this and f- that: the sheer saturation is overwhelming. I’m starting to wonder if people have nothing else on their minds. I’m talking, of course, about feminism.

Until about a week and a half ago, I had a pretty solid grasp of feminist polemic. To auto-generate your own blog piece, just grab any rant from the Daily Mail on immigration, CTRL+H the words “black people” with “men” and then top-and-tail it with some patronising assumptions about how billions of people are magically silenced and only able to communicate via white middle-class over-educated underachievers. You don’t need to confine it to stuff about women, either – just lump in anything that white-middle-class-guilt-ridden-lefties are angry about and you’re good to go.

Then something very strange started happening: the general shrieking cacophony of the popular press started to make sense. It’s not that my own opinions have changed, so much as everyone else has miraculously stopped being absurd. It all started at the Guardian. Continue reading

The Slits – Animal Space

It’s been a funny old week. The Guardian ran a piece today about how it’s been 40 years since The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer was published, and I found myself thinking that I probably ought to read it if only I had slightly more interest in political history and fewer unread books on my shelf.

I remember my mother mentioning it when I was a child, in the sort of “that’s quite interesting” tone that one generally uses when leafing through National Geographic. My mother wasn’t (and isn’t) either a feminist or an anti- or post-feminist. She was just born into a very long line of women who regarded other people’s opinions as “quite interesting”. I suppose I’m that way too. It’s not so much a “don’t give a f***” attitude as one that will simply give your opinion the consideration it deserves.

So if, say, I wanted to wear my underwear on the outside of my clothes and you told me that looked stupid, I would think, “OK, you think that looks stupid. I think it looks nice,” and carry on with my undergarment display. It wouldn’t be some act of defiance, but just a lack of any sense that other people’s opinions are more important than my own.

Continue reading