It has been only within the last year that I have started self-identifying as a feminist. It’s not that I didn’t agree feminist ideals or support work towards female equality previously; it just didn’t really cross my mind that I was one. Until one fateful Monday was when I was in counselling the man called John flipped a switch in my head.
John, my counsellor, was the first person to say to me outright and plainly that our society is negative, horrible place to be a woman. That was it. All of a sudden I was angry. Really fucking angry. Really fucking fucked off at the whole fucking world for making my entire sex feel that way.
It’s not that I didn’t already know that glossy magazines, music videos and many other things were affecting the self-esteem and expectations of women and girls across the globe (expectations of themselves, and expectations men have of women); it was because suddenly this issue become entwined with my mental health and moved from the fringes of my beliefs to the forefront of my mind. It was the realisation that society and the world at large were putting pressure on me in ways I hadn’t even noticed; and no matter what work I was doing to help improve my mental health I’d be wading through emotional treacle because of the cultural and societal pressure still dragging me back, clawing at my ankles with their perfectly manicured fingernails.
The world is engineered to make women feel like they are missing something: 15 foot billboards bearing down on us with glowing skinned beauties holding the latest ungent that will turn you into Princess Diana, brightly coloured soft focus TV adverts for shampoo that will give you an orgasm every time you take a shit. IT’S ALL POINTESS WANK. It was this cacophony of wank out there in society which was a barrier to me getting better, and that was what made me angry. I was constantly being told everywhere I go, every day, that I am not good enough: I need shiner hair, I need a flat tummy, I have too many freckles, I need a mechanical foot scraper because my little toe is the wrong shape… I thought I was strong, I thought this stuff really didn’t affect me because I never bought Grazia or Heat or followed fashions, I dyed my hair all the colours of the rainbow and pierced my face just because I wanted to. I’m counterculture! I’m impervious to this shit!
Why is this stuff affecting me, It’s not fair they can do this to me.
No, it’s not fucking fair we are exposed to that negativity OUR ENTIRE FREAKNG LIVES, because our society is entirely geared around making people feel like crap. It was like an invisible forcefield of shit in front of me that you can’t permeate until you are told it is there, you acknowledge its existence, and from that point you can FUCKING DESTROY IT with a FUCK OFF SLEDGEHAMMER. (Okay, and a little help from mental health professionals and understanding friends…) Now instead of feeling shit about myself, I feel angry at them.
How vile and self-interested are the people that promote this culture? Do they not know or care what they are doing to women? It’s not fucking fair they can get to me, use their skills and money to worm their slimy way into my head and plant nasty little seeds of doubt and self-loathing. Those magazine Execs and beauty R&D teams sat there on the 30th floor of some skyscraper in Chicago inventing a new yoghurt which makes your vagina taste like watermelon if you eat six a day, whilst jerking each other off over how amazing they are and how much money they are going to make out of others feelings of inadequacy. Then they get in their big shiny wankmobile and take home their pay packet to give their wives and daughters who take that money and spend it on POINTLESS WANKY BEAUTY PRODUCTS. AGHGHGHHH!! The cycle continues.
Our consumerist society will never let us achieve the goals which it sets women, as soon as we come close they pick up the finishing post and move it a mile in another direction; just so they can make more money.
We are supposed to be the women you love, the mothers of your children, your sisters and friends – and you treat them as pawn in your game, as moneymaking little cash cows who you crush and destroy so you can succeed. Well fuck you. There are 100s of intelligent, strong, fierce women (and men) in this city alone who are fighting against the overwhelming tide of ingrained societal negativity that batters us every day. And hopefully one day, the tide will turn.