No. I can only speak for myself. And that’s something the media seems to forget a lot of the time. Not about me. I don’t think the media give much of a shit about me thank god. The only two interviews I’ve done about myself have been littered with mistakes, which makes me think the journalists were looking at pictures of baby-photobombs on the internet while they were talking to me (to be fair I was doing that too, but I didn’t have to write down what I was saying.) But the media forget that famous people only speak for themselves. I’m focussing on women. “Celebrity” women.
It’s oft quoted that when a man gets on stage to be funny, and he isn’t, he is simply not funny; when a woman gets on stage and is not funny, that proves that ALL women are not funny. A woman gets on stage with the weight of womanhood on her shoulders, doing it for all the sisters out there. According to the media. When I get on stage to be funny, it’s because I’m a show off and I like saying and doing stupid things to make people laugh. Sometimes they do, and that means I’m having a funny day; sometimes they don’t, and that means they are wrong. But neither scenario means that therefore all women are either funny or unfunny. Just me. And I don’t get on stage to prove that all women are funny. They aren’t. Just like all men aren’t funny. There are some very unfunny people out there.
Likewise, when a woman says something that is quoted in the papers, she may seem like she’s talking for all women, but she’s not. She’s just saying something for herself, something she believes. To me, the problem lies in asking actors (male and female), chefs, bakers, singers to comment on things about which they are not qualified to comment. I’m probably doing that now. But it seems to me that often women are quoted as saying things which do more damage to women than good for us. And do more damage to men as well. It’s often women in positions of some authority, or with respect in their given field who do it and that makes it worse because people listen. So you’ve got Mary Berry quoted (admittedly in the Daily Mail which has an agenda all its own) as saying that because she respects men, she doesn’t want to be a feminist, because feminism means shouting at them when really “You’ve got to persuade them [men] gently to do things and, of course, when they come back they say, “Oh, wasn’t that fun?” What? WHAT? Not only does this misunderstand precisely what feminism is, but it infantalises men. They are not children who have to be cajoled into doing the things you want. Certainly my fella isn’t. When I want him to do something, I ask him to do it. It’s the simplest, best way. Guess what? It works. I don’t shout at him. I ask him. I don’t persuade him. I ask him. I’m not speaking for all women, or all men here, just me and my fella. God I’m glad I’m not Mary Berry. And I LOVE Mary Berry. But then she says, “I would always stand up for women but I don’t want women’s rights and all that sort of thing.” Heaven forbid women should have rights, Mary. That would be truly awful. I’m fine with Mary Berry telling me how to bake a cake. She is very very good at baking cakes. I’m not fine with Mary Berry defining feminism. She’s not very good at it.
Next up, Joanna Lumley. Now, she’s done a lot of good stuff. Gurkhas and Ab Fab and being in a cat suit. She’s an actress. Good. And yet… she has recently said that girls need to “behave better” and be “more proper” in order to avoid being raped. Oh, Joanna. She says: “I promise you it is better to look after yourself properly, which means behave properly, be polite, be on time, dress properly – I don’t mean dully – but don’t be sick in the gutter at midnight in a silly dress with no money to get a taxi home, because somebody will take advantage of you, either they’ll rape you, or they’ll knock you on the head or they’ll rob you. Don’t look like trash, don’t get drunk, don’t be sick down your front, don’t break your heels and stagger about in the wrong clothes at midnight. This is bad. ”
Yes, Joanna, this IS indeed bad. You are BAD. I’m often late for things because I don’t have a good sense of time and I think I’ll be able to paint the hallway in the twenty minutes I have before leaving the house. I’m wrong. According to this quote, I’m on the slippery slope to being raped. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the way some people dress is RIDICULOUS. There was a girl on the train the other day whose shorts were so short you could see her bum cheeks. It seemed to me that she may as well have not bothered putting them on at all. I thought she looked awful, but that’s her choice, and I certainly didn’t think, “Well, she deserves to be assaulted later.” I just thought, “Her bum must be really cold. She might get piles.” and then my brain went off on a “piles” train of thought about not sitting on cold concrete or hot radiators. My point is, often I see women dressed in clothes I wouldn’t be seen in, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to wear them, or that if they do, they are asking to be assaulted. My fella doesn’t think they should all be raped either. Because he’s not a rapist. It’s not women’s clothes that are the problem. It’s not men that are the problem. Rapists are the problem. And here’s the double standard I see. When I see a young man walking along the road with his trousers hanging below his bum so I can see his (probably rip-off) Calvin Klein boxer shorts, I might think he looks stupid. (I will admit that once, while tour-guiding I laughed incredibly loudly at a youth with such a fashion look, who had to run across the road in front of the bus. His trousers fell down and he had to waddle across the road with them round his ankles, losing any of that bragger swagger he once had. Brilliant.) But I don’t think “He really is asking for it. He’s got his bum on show. Someone’s probably going to rape him.” Because if a woman wearing a short skirt and being sick in a gutter is asking for it, a man running across the road with his bum on show is too. So I’m fine with Joanna Lumley telling me how to live on a desert island and being an actress. Because she’s good at it. I’m not fine with Joanna Lumley telling me how women should avoid being assaulted. Because she’s not very good at it.
This has become more convoluted than I planned (partly cos I thought of this in the shower and it’s become a lot of thoughts instead of one – this would have got a B at A-level) but I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re a feminist then these things should annoy you. And by feminist I don’t mean someone who hates men. That’s not what a feminist is. I’m a feminist because I love men, and I think they’re better than they’re often painted by the world. There are some absolute dickos out there, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of them are really great and don’t want to rape women who wear skimpy dresses (or men who wear their trousers under their bums) and just want to be asked to do something, not subtly persuaded and passive-aggressively commanded. And most of all I don’t want to read about women as if they are talking for all women. They’re not. They’re not talking for me. They don’t represent me. Stick to cakes. Stick to acting. I’ll stick to making stuff up, and writing a blog full of opinions. Where I speak for myself and for no-one else.*
*unless they happen to agree with me.