Well, I may have been a little rash. There may, on reflection, be a few other things about being a woman that are equally tiresome. Maybe even more so.
Here’s my longer shortlist.
1. Being blamed for everything. Eve copping for the whole original sin, fall from Eden, responsibility for pain and hunger and grinding misery scenario – well, that’s still a little bit irritating, several millennia down the road. But woman-blaming is still alive and well. For example, Thames Water recently tried to pin the blame for water shortages on women WASTING billions of GALLONS of water when shaving their legs. I am not quite sure why shaving your legs is considered to be any more of a WASTE than, I don’t know, shaving your face for example or even watering your lawn, but anyway, when there’s a hosepipe ban you know who to blame. Come on ladies, start getting your Bics out in the rain butt. Or let your shins be unashamedly fluffy. Unless you’re a celebrity because then the Daily Mail or Heat magazine will publish a big close-up of your fuzzy ankles with a big circle around the offending hair with a caption reading ‘cutting a rug! Stubbly and disgusting! Bleugh!’ Which leads me onto…
2. The endless tedium of hair removal. Never mind fat, epilation is a feminist issue. And although I try not to get hung up on my own shocking goat-like pelt, I do have a pact with a friend that, if I fall into a coma, she will come and pluck my wiry chin hairs. (And vice versa.)
3. Intermittently getting sucked into the whole grooming thing, which is so terribly time-consuming and frighteningly expensive. And I am very bad at it. I try hard not to get too worked up about my appearance but every now and again I make the significant error of looking at my face in the mirror in the broad daylight. The Mirror of Truth! Then, soon after, I end up skulking into Boots and start looking at little pots of cream called things like ‘Miracle Worker’ and ‘Vaseline on the Lens’ and ‘Who do you think you’re kidding, grandma?’ Last time I succumbed to this urge, I got kidnapped for about half an hour by the campest man in Oxford* on the Chanel counter, who wouldn’t let me go out until he had given me a FULL makeover on the basis that, ‘We can’t have you going out into the streets of Oxford looking like THAT!’ Obviously the new make up regime lasts about three days, and then I’m back to wearing as much make up as I can put on at the traffic light stops on the way to work.
4. Being called upon to defend the stupid or vile behaviour of some complete numpty on the basis that ‘she’s not a very good ROLE MODEL is she’ or ‘well she’s putting the cause of FEMINISM back twenty years?’ Men can just be MEN, but women have to be role models and set a good example. No-one said after Nixon, well that about wraps it up for middle aged white men in politics! They’re all liars and cheats. (Oh, hold on….)
I admit I am not immune to this myself. I had a big rant the other day about Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, about how their collective nut-jobness means it less likely than ever that I will see a female US president in my lifetime. I know that’s not their fault. They can’t help being total nut-jobs. But I blame them, all the same. I’m sorry, women in power, I know it’s not fair but really – try not to help those who think women can’t be trusted with positions of authority by being fulfilling all their expectations about women being flaky and ridiculous. The patriarchy is persistent enough without giving chauvinists this kind of ammunition, Michelle: ‘Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But carbon dioxide is natural; it is not harmful…. We’re being told we have to reduce this natural substance to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the earth.’**
5. Not being able to wee in the open air without an awful lot of palaver and getting more or less undressed and/or running the risk of getting wee on your shoes.
Any more, ladies?
*a very competitive field.
** for more of the ‘wit’ and ‘wisdom’ of Michelle Bachmann, see here: