Don’t know if this has gone viral all over the globe, but on this little speck it’s trending to post the first profile pic you made on Facebook and tag other friends to do the same.
So I did. A lovely smiling face of me and my (then 2 y/o) first child, I look young and happy, with shiny hair, smooth skin, and no bags. I look quite hot actually. My son looks cute. It’s a really nice picture.
I’m not usually officially bothered by the whole aging thing. Yes, yes, I know I’m “young”, but I know some people who have been bothered by every passing year for, like, FOREVER. I’m not.
I like birthdays, like the sense of accomplishment I usually feel, setting new goals, celebrating with friends and family, and progressively more children.
Tbh, what’s bothered me most on the aging subject in recent years is those around me. I don’t usually notice it in myself so much, but because I live abroad I see friends and family infrequently, sometimes years apart, so they look older each time.
I don’t make a value judgment on whether that means they look better or worse, it’s just the years are noticeable. I also find this bothers me seeing my mum get older. Yes, it really bothers me actually. The years are passing, I guess it makes me feel the impermanence of life.
Then there are celebs, have you seen Brad Pitt lately? Or Cameron Diaz? I can’t stand it. I want them to stay young forever, like they were in Thelma & Louise and There’s something About Mary. Indefinitely.
So I posted this old profile picture, and it made me feel good to see a pretty photo of myself, and bad to think I don’t look that nice anymore. For those who have based any sense of themselves around what they look like, losing what they perceived they had is going to be painful.
Recently, the famous Somalian women’s rights activist, feminist, author and speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been in the media for saying that western feminism is “Trivial BS”.*
Although, after reading the article and identifying what SHE said (in quotes) and what the AUTHOR said (not in quotes), it turned out she didn’t really say that at all, it still made me think…
Is western (i.e “my”) feminism trivial BS?
Well, I thought, to be honest, you can say almost ANY issue in the west is trivial BS compared to what goes on elsewhere. I’ll be the first to say that some of our worries and concerns are total trivial BS, we are after all, the “worried well” and we are so, so flipping lucky.
I mean, come on, #firstworldproblems.
Worried about too much sugar? In some countries they don’t even have food!
Worried about what school your kid goes to? In some places the one school they have is a 5 hour’s walk away and costs half the family’s monthly income.
Worried about your health? In some countries life expectancy is only around 40 years old.
Worried about your career? Speaking in world terms, you are damn lucky to even have a job.
Worried about where and how to birth? In many places in the world a woman has a 1/100 chance of dying during pregnancy and birth (that’s 100 per 100,000), compared to a scant 4 births per 100,000 (sorry I cannot do the maths) here in Spain.
Worry about some half-naked ladies on a man’s shirt? In some places women cannot leave the house without a male escort and are basically bought and sold by their families to other older men. In some countries women’s’ genitals are mutilated. In some countries women can’t vote, or own property, or divorce, or have the right to see their children if they do…
Really, thinking about it puts our daily worries in to sharp focus, and makes our “struggles” sounds like trivial BS.
So why, why do we still need to worry about feminism?
I thought about it and I came up with a few reasons that it resonates with me personally.
1) The gender pay gap. Why in our society do men earn more than women for the same job and same hours?
2) The sex and porn industry. Women being taken advantage of here, big time. Not nice.
3) Pregnancy and labour. There is a long way to go here. I have lost count of the women I know personally that have been treated with disrespect during this moment in their lives. 90% episiotomy rate here in Spain. This has to stop.
That is just my tiny list, at this point in my life. If I were younger I might be concerned about sexist banter, or date rape, or online trolling. If I were older it might be the fact that no women over 45 is shown presenting the news, that we “disappear” after a certain age.
Are these issues trivial BS? Compared to FGM and total submission to men, yes. But one doesn’t cancel out the other. We can still be incensed at FGM and also believe that women and men should receive equal pay.
So, in answer to my own question, yes western feminism is trivial BS compared to the rest of the world’s problems! And thank god for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here contemplating it, I wouldn’t have my own laptop, or free time, or the luxury to think and write and educate myself. Ironically, that’s all down to feminism past (thanks!).
But then, equality will always be worth contemplating and striving for, however BS-y it seems, however privileged we get, it will always be worth thinking about bringing us all up to the same privilege rather than leaving some down there, with less pay, or crappy vaginal scars or negative body images.
Lastly, I’m absolutely all for improving quality of life for women and girls (and men and boys, as it happens) around the world. And I also believe that charity starts at home.
* I had a little look around the articles that were published online and it was funny ‘cos a) they were all EXACTLY the same copy b) She didn’t actually say that western feminism itself is BS, she was actually criticising the uproar about the scientist who wore the shirt with the half-naked women on it.
If there are poeple wondering what on earth #shirtgate was all about, i.e why did those hysterical feminists go crazy about a shirt and make a man (a really clever man) apologise, think about this: gollywogs were on jam-jars when I was a kid…now they are not. Why? because they are a racial stereotype that we didn’t need. People (black people and white people) didnt like it. Perhaps if they were still around now, and a scientist came on air with a shirt full of gollywogs, perhaps a viral internet petition would have started and perhaps he would have apologised. So yes, as Ms. Ali says, uproar around a shirt can be seen as trivial BS, and on the other hand another stereotype publicly stood up to. #justsaying
PS Thanks t katrinaelsi for providing her wonderful photo entitled “Women at Work” for free on the Creative Commons.
Whiter than I expected. Wonder if she’s naturally that pale. Brave. If that were me I definitely would have gotten a few sun-beds in before the shoot. I shouldn’t think that, I should be happy with my pale skin.
Wonder if she did the shot completely naked. Wonder if she came in in a bathrobe. Is she alone or is there an entourage? Did they see her naked? Did she worry about bikini wax before shoot. Duh! Of course she did, she probably has it waxed daily.
I wonder how “it” is waxed…
I really need to get a bikini wax. Even though it is winter and I’m not going anywhere near a bikini for at least 6 months. But I should be ‘presentable’ at all times. It bothers me that I don’t find my body in it’s natural state presentable. But, ugh, who wants hair. It makes me feel disgusting. I want to be smooth like Kim. At all times.
Shiny, her body is very shiny. Obviously baby oil. They must have sprayed her lots of times. Bet that felt horrible. Did they spray her all over, or just the back?
I wonder if she was cold. I bet she was cold. I would have been freeeeeezing.
This woman loves her bum. Good for her, I think I love her bum. I always wanted my bum to be bigger, and rounder, a bit like that. She’s had kids. I’ve had kids. I wish I could look a bit more like that.
I wonder how the world will see this. Is this important? Is it anti-feminist? Should I have a “view” on it? Wow, all my thoughts so far have been really superficial, shallow, vain and have lead back to my own insecurities about how I look and present myself… Should I be offended? Am I superficial? Am I a bad feminist?
Is this why constant bombarding of sexualised images of women is detrimental to our society’s mental health and view of women as a whole: it constantly reduces women to bodies, pieces of flesh, objects to be judged, eyed up, envied, lusted after, commented on, compared to…
How does this affect us as women? How does it affect men?
I’m curious to see other photos of her, but really I can’t be bothered.
…ok, so 8 is not very much. It’s really like who cares. And I don’t. BUT, I know I will, and each time I see a new little grey (white actually) hair growing it reminds me that one day (one day soon) I will have to make that decision to dye or not to dye.
You see, I’m a natural brunette, and very happy with my hair colour. When I was younger I used the occasional 6 week tint to give it a deeper glow, some shine, but havent done that in like 6 years. It’s dark, rich, glossy, brown hair. I like it as it is.
So now when I see these little grey peepers coming through, I’m thinking do I dye (i.e. change my habit of not dying so I don’t look grey) or do I just get more salt in my pepper and go with it.
Arguments against dying: I probably still look as nice with or without grey hairs, it’s costly, takes time I don’t have (or would rather be doing other things), I hate the grey roots look, and I can’t be bothered.
Arguments for: I don’t want grey hair, I want to keep what I always had, I don’t like the way grey hair looks (on me).
Also creeping in here is a resentment that I feel like this, that I have to make this decision and based on that I will be perceived (by myself and others) in one way or another. If you dye it no one notices or even thinks about it, if you don’t you are making the statement that you are cool with grey, or you can’t be arsed or you are happy with yourself just as you are (right on!).
If I was to go a bit deeper with that I would say it’s like one more example that being a women is so often about taming your natural self (body hair, fat, grey hair) to be ok, to feel ok, to be less visible, to not be noticed, commented on, scrutinised. It’s like “oh fuck it, I don’t want my leg hair/belly fat/grey hairs to make me stand out or to be seen, I will just shave it/cover it/dye it” (submit to the system) again and again…
So, looks over morals and money. Can’t be arsed (and feel against it in principle, to be honest) vs want to look my best self (youngest self, acceptable self…?)
Ach, the annoying thing is, I’m so gonna dye it.
PS thanks Fanny P for unknowingly prompting me to get round to writing this one 😉
Wrote a post this week and used the term “mum cut”, and I didn’t mean in in a nice way. Mum jeans, mum cut, frumpy, mumsy, yummy mummy, MILF…we need to reclaim this terminology, which is either derogatory or sexual. Where are the powerful words?
Being a mother,a woman with child, can be powerful, strong, dignified, and unashamed.
Reclaiming vocabulary is an important part of this!
The writer disclaims herself at the beginning, by saying she doesn’t want to be a traitor to fellow mums, and admitting it’s hard enough being a mum without having yet more pressure of looking tip-top while doing it. She goes on to suggest ditching the mummy “frumpification” of cosy knits, Ugg boots and “mum” coat for bright Millionhands jumpers and Nike Air Max. She also goes on to cuss babyish change bags and says she just uses her Marc Jacobs hobo.
Ugg boots? Over 200 euros. Marc Jacobs Hobo? 400 euros. Millionhands jumpers? 80 euros. Exactly which mums are you talking about?
I would buy “boring” darker coloured tops and jumpers because, guess what, I can wear them 2-3 times (stains allowing) with different combos and look like I’m mixing things up. I can’t do that with a loud print from whatevs shops you go to, I could wear that once a week max. Maybe that saves me money, maybe that saves me thinking too much. And to be painfully honest, I haven’t bought a new jumper since 2005 (I’m all 2nd hand, baby!).
I use whatever bag I have lying around as a change bag, usually a cloth shopping bag. If I had a fancy printed changebag, I would use that and I wouldn’t give a crap if it was deemed babyish, I would be with a baby in tow for christ’s sake!
I find it a bit distasteful to be talking about things like this when so many people are in financial dire straits. But maybe that’s my problem, maybe I have a chip on my shoulder.
I find it a bit distasteful to heap on the pressure to mums, read: new mums, when there is so much else (dare I say more important stuff?) to think about than whether I wear my Ugg boots or swap them (too frumpy!!) for some Nike Airs.
I’m all for not letting your appearance “go” after having kid. But we all coast for a while, until the time is right. I do get slightly sad when I see my friends get a “mum cut” (or myself!) but I also swell with pride that she (for the moment) has put her sanity and her kids first by eliminating something that can take up precious time.
I’m also proud of her when she goes and gets that haircut finally, and sports a new outfit after she admits that, 6 months after birth, it’s perhaps time to ditch the maternity jeans.
I wish I could see so much more solidarity amongst women, especially on their post partum journey.
And in the unlikely event that Molly Gunn does read this, I think you look f-ing fab in every outfit you chose. And though you didn’t mean it as a tip, I think the idea of getting a waterproof jacket with a hood (‘cos you can’t push a pram holding an umbrella) is genius and I wish I had thought of that one!
I was asked the other night at a party why women are not “incensed, enraged, knocking over desks and rioting” at the fact that beheading images are acceptable on Facebook and images of breast-feeding banned.
Good question, I replied. I am a feminist (in my opinion, anyone who believes in equal rights is, yes, that means you and you and you…) it does enrage me, sadden me, surprise and depress me.
Why are we passive to these things?
As I write, my eyes are closing, stinging from a full days work, 3 kids and a merry-go-round of childhood illnesses that might stop around March. I’m tired, almost too tired to write and definitely too tired to fight.
Is that what it is? Will we look back and say we were just too damn tired to do anything about it?