Archive for the Feminism Category

Mad WOMEN* *wordplay

Posted in Feminism, TV with tags , on September 3, 2011 by Mhairi McFarlane

I had an urge to stick one to the patriarchy today and then I realised: how better to achieve this than squat on T Lee’s blog, saying my thoughts for a SECOND time? Boom. I hear Hugh Hefner shit himself. But that’s probably because he’s 102.

So. When I was at university, back in… let’s not be vulgar with specific dates, a tutor asked if the women in the group considered themselves feminists. I thought this was an easy starter for ten, like when Chris Tarrant revs up with ‘Your question for the train fare here: sirloin, rump and fillet are all types of what?’

I was the only one who said yes. Most of them mumbled, one girl said no. ‘If you were doing the same job as a male colleague, would you expect equal pay and rights?’ the tutor asked her. ‘Yes, of course.’ ‘So you want the benefits of feminism but not the title?’

Girl looked stumped. I didn’t inquire, because it would’ve meant getting to know her more, but I suspect she said she wasn’t a feminist because her depth of understanding of the term was that it meant scowling and not depilating. Ugh, of course I’m not one of them. I’m attractive and reasonable and not all het up and cross, and I don’t have side-burns.

A few years have elapsed since the unwelcome discovery that many intelligent birds at universities still thought the ‘f’ word was a dirty one with all sorts of erroneous connotations.

At least this girl wasn’t sharing her dimly lit world-view with others. When famous women do it it fair riles me up. Kirstie Allsopp and Davina McCall, for example, have both described how hubby is the boss at home and it makes for total harmony. Handing over the reins and deferring to him is a ‘recipe for success.’ Never contradicting him or arguing a point is key.

But, back up. If playing Betty Draper part-time is the solution, what exactly is the implied problem with the rest of us here? Is treating each other as equals therefore a recipe for failure? Is a feminist partner inevitably a proper naggy emasculating drag for a man? And why are no famous men keen to tell us all how they had a much nicer life once they accepted their wives should be in sole charge?

The ‘I let him run the show’ simper club is part of a kind of self-serving selective feminism. It sticks two fingers up to the cause and pretends it doesn’t matter – worse, that it’s responsible for much modern misery and confusion – as soon as its members fancy some 1950s roleplay. Nipped waists and supplication are such a great look on you.

Spot this mindset by use of phrases like: ‘I believe in equality but… I like a man to hold a door open for me.’

When I encounter a Door Wanker I confront them with my own complex take on this fraught issue. I too like a man to hold a door open for me. I also like a woman to hold a door open for me. Wait, it gets wilder: in turn, I hold doors open for men and women. Surprise! It’s called manners, dickbag! And it’s not sex-parts specific.

‘I believe in equality but… I like a man to pay for dinner. I’m old-fashioned like that.’ Riiiight. I like anyone paying for my dinner. But next time you’re asking why your male colleague does the same for a larger salary, remember, it’s a) the old-fashioned way and b) the subsidy for all those dinners. You could of course cut out the middleman, get paid the same, go Dutch. This way you’re effectively letting him dictate your food spend, and personally I don’t want no motherfucker asking why I need a side of chips when my salad has potatoes in it.

Oddly, although Mad Men is a stern, melancholy warning to the fairer sex of Some Of The Shit We Once Took, people seem to confuse how heart-achingly beautiful Don and Betty look while going about their bizness with the ugly nature of it. If you hanker after any part of these lives beyond the wardrobes and the furniture, you’ve really missed the point.

Never mind Joan being raped by her husband, look at her badonkadonk in tomato-red wool! Never mind Betty’s in therapy, look at the psychiatrist’s G Plan sofa! I’m not saying the aesthetics aren’t appealing. You can sigh over the circle petticoats and fancy being oppressed by Jon Hamm against the Sterling Cooper photocopier all you want, but really. Perspective please. Being treated as a second-class citizen is a package deal, with all kinds of inclusive perks.

‘I believe in equality but… I like to be sexually harassed and derided in the office. I just think it works better that way. You know, the sexes, we’re not the same.

‘I believe in equality but… I like to have my abortions botched back-street with a knitting needle and a fatal dose of septicaemia. I’m kind of traditional I guess.’ Girlish giggle

Oh. You don’t get those ones so much.

Coming away from Mad Men thinking Betty’s marriage shows playing the surrendered powerless trophy role works a treat is like saying that Grizzly Man teaches us that if you love bears enough eventually they will cuddle you back.

Anyway. As a feminist, I’m refining my own etiquette.

I’ll hold a door open for anyone except women who say they like men to hold doors open for them.