Tuesday, 28 May 2013


This is a topic that I've written about before and seems to be very much 'de jour' what with the likes of Caitlin Moran et al giving their input. The lovely Sarah Miles has asked me to blog something and as I haven't blogged since January, I thought it was high time I put pen to paper, quill to scroll, finger to mouse etc. (I'm not getting paid by the word, I just like rambling)....

I was quite surprised that I haven't blogged since January. I update my facebook status pretty much every time I have a bath, am always swearing (eruditely I like to think) on twitter and posting various reams of utter nonsense on showbiz forums so the fact that my blog, which in essence, should be my 'showcase' gets treated like an unwanted xmas present is perhaps rather telling. I do want to change this blog actually and make it more focused so watch this space (although don't expect much by December if my current laziness persists)...

I am no doubt repeating things wot I have already wrote (innit) but 1) you probably haven't read this before and 2) if you have it was so long ago that I last posted you may well have forgotten (phew). The essence of this blog post is about modern notions of womanhood/feminism (call it what you will) and how far we have come - or indeed haven't. It was mainly inspired by a rant I wrote in response to Nick Ross (Crimewatch stalwart) who recently claimed that: 'Rape isn't always rape'. This followed a very silly recent diatribe by 'national treasure' Joanna Lumley who claimed that women should not get too drunk and dress provocatively as they will encourage rapists.. (I am paraphrasing somewhat but that was the gist). Now, Lumley has a real point that women should be careful NOT to get too drunk because it isn't good for the health and you can get into trouble, but the astonishing assertion that a drunk woman wearing a low cut top and/or short skirt might attract a lurking rapist (twiddly moustache - optional) is quite frankly mind numbingly stupid. Rape is, for the most part, about power and not sex. It's not about men being unable to contain themselves over the sight of a side boob, but about relinquishing control and showing the 'fairer sex' that they might be able to push babies out of themselves but they are innately physically weaker. How about we quit blaming the victims, allow women to wear what they want and start addressing those who are fundamentally in the wrong - the rapists themselves? How about saying to men before a night out 'don't get too drunk and don't rape anyone'.. Or is that overly simplistic? Furthermore, to say that 'rape isn't always rape' is fundamentally wrong. If a woman does not consent to sex it is rape, irrespective of if he/she is/are stone cold sober or has/have consumed 20 jagerbombs and several illegal substances. Yes, there are varying reasons behind rape, but essentially, it is the same crime each time. That. Is. All.

Now I am 41 (sob), my outlook and appearance (if I am honest) is completely different to my 20's. Back then I did used to attract attention from men, and being completely honest (again), I loved it.  I used to get into some VERY dodgy situations (perhaps the most memorable being escorted home by 2 strange Norwegian men in viking hats who took me to my door and I made them tea; not a euphemism, actual earl grey). Nothing happened - they were decent men, but it COULD have been an extremely different outcome. Now I am older and (perhaps) wiser and also happily married so unlikely to seek out any men in viking hats (although if any are reading)......Would Joanna Lumley be shaking her fist whilst reading this and decrying my actions, saying that I was 'asking for it' that evening? Probably. Would she be right? No she bloody well wouldn't. I might have been behaving irresponsibly but I wasn't 'asking to be raped'.

Appearance is something that women are always judged over - men too, to an extent, (especially nowadays)but women much more so. When you're young and beautiful that's a lot more edifying than once you reach middle age... Perhaps women's most staunch critics, however, are women themselves. You only have to open the average women's weekly to be confronted by pictures of 'Z list soap star's amazing bikini curves', Read how I lost 3 stone in 10 days' etc. These magazines sell so they are clearly pandering to our own innate insecurities which is quite frightening. Advertisers on TV pander to this obsession with galling adverts of diet food where we are gently patted on the head and told 'you can eat these caramel slices guilt free'. Gee, thanks. Heartening to know I can eat some cardboard coated chocolate substitute without feeling like a heifer. Women who are older than 50 on the telly are routinely thrown on the scrapheap, whilst flabby, baggy unsightly specimens of the male variety seem to be able to work until they drop dead. Meanwhile, if, as a woman, you dare to criticise another woman for a valid reason (i.e. Katie Price for being, well for just being), you are routinely accused of being 'jealous' of 'letting down the sisterhood'. What rot. Women are just as capable and critical as Men and bestowing criticism on someone of the same sex just shows you have an opinion and a brain. How patronising to assume that we should all meekly pat each other on the back 'cos we is women, innit'.

So, I'm sure Emmeline Pankhurst would concede that we're getting there but we still have a way to go. We're still judging ourselves - and being judged - on what we look like, how much we weigh and what we wear. & we're still pretty much responsible for men who rape us being unable to stop themselves. Ross & Lumley - hang your heads in shame.