Prior to university, my perception of feminism had been shaped largely by a snippet of conversation I’d heard, a woman advising another on divorce: “Bleed the fucker dry”. My mother’s recent forays into the legal profession, “making sure the woman always gets the kids,” hadn’t inspired confidence either. When at university, of course, feminism is inescapable: cellulite cream traded in for cupcakes at Freshers’ fair, Laura Payne, a presidential candidate, was dubbed ‘The woman who wants to abolish women’ by our former editor after proposing the motion that men should be allowed to attend Women’s Committee. As I compose this blog, Venetia Rainey and Sarah Foster are murking the living shit out of each other over some candyfloss film that teaches us as much about women as Tubgirl did about dining etiquette.
I write essays incorporating reams of feminist criticism all the time, because postcolonial and linguistic perspectives require a bit too much effort and other approaches leave me a bit nonplussed. My very first lecture encouraged me to “Stand up if you’re a feminist”, because even men can be feminists. I felt quite uncomfortable. Can I be a feminist? Well no, I can’t. Because I will never be able to be pregnant, have a period and I don’t see the urge to self-define as a woman arising too soon, so according to the narrow band of firebrand manifestos I’ve read, I’m rendered unqualified. Oh crap.
I tried to buy into feminism to give myself some foundation of belief (other than the well-trodden paths of being pro-basic human rights blah blah). Secondary school ruined God for me, because if you partook in the assembly prayers you were lower than a rat’s turd, and I don’t really get politics – I say I’m Labour because it’s less embarrassing than saying you’re Tory, and less desperate than being Lib Dem. Claire Hazelgrove (Lab) is a good deal more cuddly than the face of campus conservatism.
Bemoaning my lack of belief in anything is my new chat-up line, replacing “I don’t do Management”, and it’s a great deal less successful. I’d really like a romantic squeeze just before the end of term so I can justifiably not play ‘Fuck a Fresher’. Suddenly, horse molars and spiffingly combed hair don’t seem that bad if it means a summer jolly to a country pile. People have tried to help out. “Oh. You have to meet my friend. They’re dry and dress a bit weird like you”. Bad move. If they introduce me to someone reasonable, I take it as a competition, smashing them with serial character assassinations. Other times, I wonder whether a Rebecca Sealfon-esque academic trollop is what they see as a suitable match. Fixing yourself someone passable takes time that I don’t have.
A female friend of mine at LSE only goes for white guys with double-barrelled names and whoever just got an internship at Goldman Sachs. Another was religious in her attendance of Liverpool Football Club’s youth academy football matches, and the legend developed that whoever scored the most on any given occasion could be found at the gum clinic the next day. This is feminism: with hard work and drive, all clever women have the right to find a husband that isn’t a pleb.
“I have often seen an actor laugh off the stage, but I don’t remember ever having seen one weep.”