Casual Everyday Misogyny

At the moment, my criteria for a good morning is getting up before 7, leaving the house on time and if it is a day for the train, arriving at the station on time to get tea before the train leaves. In the queue for tea, once again, I am enraged by the magazines headlines.

Has Pauline Put on MORE weight?

The sad secret behind Kate’s new look

Kate puts on a brave face….

….and so on. Each headline screams with seeming glee about distress, divorce, weight gain and the apparent shaming of women who fail to meet perfection. And we can’t even blame men. These are women’s magazines, bought by women, often written by women.

Why is it so hard for us to like ourselves? Why do we feel this need to question our abilities, our appearance, our confidence and our lives. Why are we so judged and indeed judging? Many years ago I was asked to support a woman with a problem at work. Over the phone, in tears, she told me how she had been hauled before her manager and told she had a serious “superiority complex”. I met her and a penny dropped. A young, quietly spoken black woman, in a professional role where she was the youngest person in the team and the only black employee. She questioned her colleagues about their practice, because she had been taught to speak up for herself. Her two colleagues, both older women clearly felt the need to put her in her place. Rather than a superiority complex she had dangerous delusions of equality. I have never been so angry about a case at work. Of course, in representing her I too was put in my place, a young women with opinions and a strong sense of injustice needs to learn…

I have written before about how L needs to be angrier. Actually, we all do. Angry with eating disorders, angry with a world that wants to belittle and humiliate women, reducing them to figures on a scale or dress size. We should all want to be too big for our boots, larger than life and even to be a bit in love with ourselves. Why not? Often we compliment other women and try boost their confidence, while doing ourselves down. My partner often laughs about the first time he told me he liked me and my response was “Course you do, I’m f***ing great!” it was intended to be funny and self deprecatory, but do you know what? I am! So this is my message of the day. Women are great and that means me. And you too. And I’m not going to add a funny quip to blunt the message such as, Oh, the drugs are obviously working. I am a good mother, great at that job and my other one, with fantastic children and terrific friends. Today I am sticking my chin out and taking the world on.

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