There really IS a name for everything. For example, lipstick feminism: feminists who embrace their hotness and womanhood and rarely burn their bras. A tamer version, neofeminism: empowerment by celebrating ‘stereotypically girly’ attributes. Or as Chimamanda puts it, ‘A Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men.’ Btw, I quote Chimamanda a lot. She’s a cool person, and a smart woman, and a gifted writer … but please don’t buy me any of her books because they always make me cry. I don’t like books that make me cry.
I find this image really disturbing. Because in my mind, it’s really the other way around … isn’t it? I mean there are women who use their … feminine wiles … to get just what they want in life. Sometimes I wish I was one of those women, because their lives seem so much easier. But at the same time, isn’t the average woman terrified of some dick running the world, literally? Aren’t we more scared of what they have between their their legs than they ever will be of us?
Isn’t it more a case of them controlling us to get that thing … than us manipulating them because we know how much they want it? And in cases where female sexuality is institutionally used e.g. in advertising, prostitution, pornography, sex slavery … isn’t it usually a man’s idea to begin with? And doesn’t it all stem from the fact that a woman can bring forth life while a man only enhances what is there? It’s the sperm that chases the ovum after all, even science knows that.
Or is it an endless cyclic case of pots and kettles? I suppose when it comes to sexual issues, someone will always feel manipulated, whether or not they actually are. The argument goes that women manipulate men because men are stronger and scarier and more powerful, so our manipulation is a form of self defence. Men will argue that women’s vaginas control men, and that men need to protect themselves. Attacking is – after all – the best way to stay safe.
A man will say he took up sport to control his sexual urges and express his excess energy in a safe, healthy, boys’ only environment. A girl will say she took up men’s sports to toughen up so the boys wouldn’t hurt her anymore or think that she was weak. And then the smart man sexualised women’s sports … so that more men would watch it … even though the reason they took up sports in the first place was to get away from women.
I suppose the reason the image above is so viral is that it’s not only sexual, it’s also controversial. And controversy – like sex – sells. I work in advertising, so I know that better than anyone. An AD once told me there are two ways to effectively grab a prospective client’s attention. You can annoy them, or you can make them laugh. The truly gifted people can do both.
Here’s my question though … controversy does capture people’s attention and get them talking. But does it make them buy? And when it’s used for social reasons, does it make a change? I mean, let’s face it. The whole world went crazy about black-and-blue-and-gold dresses … but did it actually SELL anything?
And when we’re using controversy to draw attention to something really important, are we really doing anything except causing a royal stink? There’s a story about an alternate world where almost everyone is gay and heterosexuals are persecuted. It’s by Charles Beaumont, and it was first published in Playboy. There’s a video about another alternate world where gender roles are reversed, and where it’s the men that wear hijab, face street harassment, give up careers to look after the children, and even get raped. There’s a novel where it’s European labour that was kidnapped, packed on slave ships, and sold to wealthy patrons on Africa.
All these simulations stir up bees and wasps and hornets. They get us thinking, shake us up for a few moments, maybe even make us sympathetic to that other person’s plight. But do they have any lasting impact in the real world? They say comedians can change the world, but do we ever stop to think about the issues they’re highlighting once we’re done having a good laugh?
When Robin Williams committed suicide, many comedians came up and admitted they had depression. There was even a cracked article about how the funniest people in the world are often the saddest people in the world. They simply found a way to channel their darkness into comedy and money. It was a survival mechanism for them. So a lot of the things we joke about are literally life-threatening issues. Fat jokes. Race jokes. Sex jokes. They often come from a place of endless pain.
I was talking to a friend once. We hadn’t talked in a while, and he asked, ‘How are you, really?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I never know how you are because you don’t over-share on Facebook.’ I laughed and said, ‘You should try reading my blog.’ Because this blog is my journal, my thought-space, the one place where I’m unabashedly honest.
Mostly when I’m writing a post, I don’t know where it’s going. I start with a sentence, a phrase, a song in my head, a title. Then I open the ‘new post’ window and type. Other times, I’m living an experience in the ‘real world’ and typing it up in my head, literally tweaking my life for the internet.
In the past, I didn’t think twice about what I wrote. I just – you know – wrote. But like Lorde says, I’m kind of older than I was when I revealed without a care. (Google confirms that she actually says ‘revelled without a care’ but the ‘a’ works better in this context. #MisheardLyrics) This is one of those posts, the kind where I’m not sure I should say this stuff out loud, and in the end, I decided not to. Because it’s been a rough few weeks, and while it would probably make me feel much better to dissect it here in detail, I’m a little too old for that.
I was talking to another friend – a writer and blogger. He says he hates writing for newspapers and magazines, because the editors always chop out the best parts. And he hates blogging because he can’t control how his audience will respond. He can’t dictate what they’ll take from his stories. And because blogging is so immediate, they will tell him what they feel in the comments, and he will want to smash their heads because they totally missed the point. That’s the danger with honest journalling. There’s a 99.9% chance that your readers will miss the point.
I read somewhere that happiness is all about moments. It isn’t a destination or an achievement. It isn’t a trophy that you get when you succeed in doing a, b, or c. It’s the little things – the smile on your child’s face, the sugar-buzz of ice cream, the sweet release of orgasm, the revving of a red X4. Sometimes, happiness is followed by sadness when that child grows up, when that sugar turns to calories, when the car insurance bill is due. And when the sadness comes, you wonder if the happiness was worth it.
A few weeks ago, I met a guy. Well, I didn’t meet him exactly. I’ve known him for years. It’s just that a few weeks ago, I saw him through different eyes. And seeing him that way made me happy for a while. But now, I’m sad, and trying to decide if the happiness was worth it. But more than that, I’m accepting that happiness is all about moments. And as I sit in the darkness typing, I whisper words of comfort to myself. I tell myself that this pain will pass eventually, and that new moments of happiness will come into my life.
I’m watching my child sleep. She has school tomorrow, and we have to wake up early to finish homework and get ready for the day. I feel sad because I’m binge-ing on Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, wishing I was more like Lorelai, wondering how long before my princess turns to Amber, thinking it would be cool if I had Lauren Graham’s quirkiness, hair, and wardrobe.
If happiness is moments rather than a state of being, then it’s possible to be a depressive and be happy. That’s how I see myself – as a happy person living with depression. That means I can be happy, I can be positive, and I can allow myself to have a week to mope, sleep, and wallow with every confidence that when this time is done, I’ll come out on the other side.
♫ Team ♫ Lorde ♫