Monthly Archives: October 2014

Renee, Robbie, Sluts and Sportsmen

This week certain news stories have made me cross, mainly because of the messages they’re giving out about how we view certain men and women. And yes, I am still going on about this.

Last week, a famous paralympian was sentenced to five years for killing his girlfriend, although actually he may only serve 10 months of that. 10 months. That means he’ll miss this Christmas but will be home with plenty of time to plan his next one. How nice for him. I’m sure the family of the woman he shot, four times, will be thrilled that he gets a second chance.

Apparently he’s a broken man, his life and career are ruined. The paralympic committee have been talking about all the great work he’s done, desperately trying to separate his private life from his professional life. Except he mixed them both up in one big, bloody mess the night he shot his girlfriend. Four times.

Unfortunately, her life actually is broken beyond repair, she wont get any second chances. We need to remember that this isn’t something that happened to him, he did this all by himself. He picked up the gun, he pulled the trigger. Four times. He apparently reacted on impulse. Four times. Did I mention that he shot her four times? Good. Poor lamb. Easily done. Who hasn’t heard a noise in the middle of the night and headed off with heavy-duty gun to shoot someone four times through a door without checking/noticing where their partner is?

Meanwhile in the UK a footballer was released after serving half his sentence for raping a young woman. He’s all over the newspapers asking for forgiveness from his victim. Sorry, my mistake, I don’t mean victim, I mean girlfriend, because to ask for forgiveness from his victim would imply that he has some responsibility for what he did, and he doesn’t.

There are photos of him sat with his girlfriend, in that classic ‘woman-silently-standing-by-her-man’ pose that nobody really gets and he keeps talking about his infidelity. Like that’s the worst part of this. But it serves a purpose. It dilutes the original case, shifting the focus onto what the victim did, not what he did.

At the time she was called a slut. We all love a bit of slut-shaming and if there’s a choice between criticising a man and criticising a woman, the woman gets it every time, probably because she was asking for it. Because the message here is that she was responsible for what happened. She was drunk. She probably had high heels on, and lipstick. She ended up in a hotel room with two men and whatever you may think about that she did not give her consent to sex. But what’s a poor man to do who only has his impulses to rely on? Well apparently, what he has to do is take advantage of her and force himself inside her even though she’s unconscious.

The message in both of these cases seems to be that a man’s impulsive, aggressive response to a situation is totally acceptable and should not be the focus of the resulting court case. It’s human nature, innit.

While I don’t want the footballer to stay in prison for the rest of his life, he absolutely should accept responsibility and turn it around. He’s a role model for lots of young boys. He could use that fame and money to show how wrong his behaviour was, and to encourage respect for women. That aggressiveness, which is a vital part of his skill at football, needs to be channelled in the right way.

But anyway, never mind all that. There were other, more important things to get worked up about last week because, for the love of God, what has Renee Zellweger done to her face!!? Forget your murderers and rapists, bless them, they were only acting on impulse and it wasn’t their fault, but a woman getting older? In public? How dare she, does she not know the rules?

(I actually wish someone would write out the rules for me and laminate them or something because it’s hard to keep up. I think we’re supposed to make ourselves look pretty at all times, but not TOO pretty, silly, because then some poor man might accidentally, impulsively, end up inside us, ruining his life in the process).

I personally couldn’t care less if she’s had surgery, it doesn’t impact on my life in any way. But if she has then it’s partly the repsonsibility of the very media outlets that are mocking her now. We’re bombarded with before and after pictures of these poor women. If I want to see some woman with fluctuating weight and the occasional (OK, regular) bad choice of outfit, I’ll look through my own facebook photos, thank you very much.

But as I said in my last blog post, women of a certain age in the public eye are a bit of a grey area (no pun intended). Once they’ve passed the age where it’s socially acceptable to be sexually attractive, there’s a brief holding period where they may possibly be called a MILF if they’re really lucky (what an honour! I’m SO flattered that you think we deserve a special name for still being vaguely shaggable even though we’re so obviously over the hill), or they might get to play a cougar so that we can all laugh at the thought of them still wanting to have sex, poor, deluded, sad cow. But after that forget it. There is no 50-year old woman-shaped box out there.

During this ‘awkward’ stage I think they’re supposed to go off to the part of society that’s like one of those big sanatoriums in Switzerland. Where they can sit around with blankets on their knees, drinking tea laced with bromide and evening primrose oil, waiting to be released again when it’s more obvious what their role should be, that of a Grandmother. Phewsers. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. Everyone knows where they are now, there’s no funny business. Everyone knows what to expect from a 70 year old woman. Their osteoporosis makes them nice and bendy so they fit quite nicely into the Granny/Character actress box (apart from those leopard-print clad rebels, but if we laugh at them they might go away).

So what we seem to be saying this week is that men get away with stuff because that’s how they are, but women can get away with absolutely nothing and are scrutinised at every step so they have a duty to make sure they look great while doing it.

Which leads me to my final little rant. Robbie Williams has had a baby. Well, obviously, he hasn’t actually had the baby, it was his wife but he still managed to make it all about him. He filmed the whole thing to show us how great his wife looked through labour. Because it’s a little known fact that women are generally lazy cows who use any old excuse to let themselves go. I don’t care if your pelvis IS splitting in two and you can feel your actual flesh actually tearing, put some lippy on and smile, damn you. And try not to punch your rubber-faced idiot of a husband as he sings to you while a man you don’t know puts his whole arm inside your vagina and tells you you’re not pushing hard enough.

I’m not sure where to go after that last sentence, so I’ll just leave it there and run away.

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We bleed, we get old. Deal with it.

I haven’t got a television. Not for any high and mighty ‘I’m so much better than you and will further my mind without the aid of popular culture’ reasons, but because our television broke a few years ago when we moved house and we never got around to fixing it.

We do still watch things on the laptop but most of what we watch is something that we’ve particularly chosen to watch, it’s never just on. That makes a huge difference.

One of the good things about this is that we never have to sit through adverts, but this weekend we watched something with ads in and I must have a low tolerance after not seeing any for so long, because I was ranting after the first two.

Ads don’t seem to have changed much They’re still telling us how rubbish we are, that we need to be younger, thinner and smell nicer. That our hair is awful and our skin is bad.

But the ads that are aimed at just women really worry me.

First of all it was the sanitary towel ad. Brilliant, I thought, let’s see if we’ve moved on from the ‘woman in tight, white hot pants on a skateboard’ scenario that we know and love…

Nope, they’re still doing the thing with the white trousers. The ad showed women sailing, bungee jumping, the lot, while in the background there was a recording of some period advice from the 1950s, telling girls that they shouldn’t draw attention to themselves, the idea being that the women on the screen who were flinging themselves out of planes and pogoing around nightclubs were a positive contrast to the old advice.

I get the thinking behind these ads but it feels like just another thing we need to be feeling inadequate about. Of course periods shouldn’t stop us doing what we want to do, but while I don’t think we should go back to the days of bulky sanitary belts and being told that you shouldn’t wash your hair during your period, I also don’t think we should be in total denial about periods.

Got stomach ache and no energy? Get up you lazy cow, grab those white jeans and roller skates and show your ovaries who’s boss.

Got a migraine and a desire to watch back-to-back Downton, weeping into a bucket of tea? Stop whining and go and throw yourself off a tall building, using tampon strings as a bungee cord. Slacker.

Next up was an ad for vitamin supplements for the older woman. The ad shows a woman in her office (what do you mean you don’t have your own office? What have you being doing all this time? Stop bleeding and go and do a parachute jump, damn you), with her highlights and white trousers. (White trousers seem to be the ad world symbol of freedom, ah…the irony as the only way I could ever keep a pair of white anything clean is if you wheel me around in a glass box like David Blaine.) She’s standing behind her desk, talking about how age doesn’t matter. They don’t even let her sit down, poor cow, that’s how much age doesn’t matter. She smiles at the camera and says “I don’t want to sleep much, in case I miss anything.” Jeez, really?

She looks knackered. She’s been travelling and has just got back from Ibiza, where she danced ALL night. Did she mention how age doesn’t matter? Good, because it doesn’t. I think she must have a couple of pints of red bull mixed with cocaine behind that big desk of hers because even watching this is making me want a lie down.

Next, her young male assistant comes over, all doe-eyed, to ask her opinion about a magazine cover. Of course, the magazine cover in question has a young woman on it because we all know that bloody age does bloody matter and women with baggy necks do not sell magazines, however many nights they spend dancing in Ibiza.

She flicks her brittle hair at the young man and grins, the message being that if she can dance all night and not sleep and have young men flirt with her, despite her being so clearly over the hill and not worthy of any man’s attention, then so can you, stop making excuses.

So not only are we not allowed to give in to those pesky periods, we’re not allowed to age either.

Tsk, women, stop being so crap with your inconvenient periods and your ageing, you want the same chances as men? Here you are, neck a few pills, stuff a chemically laden pad between your legs and off you go. Then maybe you can stop making men feel so uncomfortable with your weirdo bodies.

Imagine that same ad but with a 50 something man instead, leering down at his 25 yr old female assistant, talking about how he never sleeps and spends all night dancing. No? But there’s a supplement for men too, so why aren’t they pushing that? Because men don’t give a shit. Ageing men aren’t under the same pressure from society. They can carry on reading the news, presenting TV shows, having kids for as long as they like. There is no best before date for men, even when they start to smell funny.

Women are being hidden away after 40 because in society’s eyes they no longer fill their role as a sexual being, they confuse everyone with their confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude. It’s like society doesn’t really know what to do with them.

Where does the assumption come from that these women are desperate to get their youth back? Because the women I see are perfectly happy with who they are. They have freedom. The freedom to walk down the street, for example, without being leered at because those men who used to leer are far too busy ruining the day of that 25yr old girl over there who left the house this morning feeling pretty OK until some idiot told her she had nice tits, and now she’s wondering if she made that happen because she wore ‘that’ top, because society tells us, and often even other women tell us, that it’s women who control these things, who take responsibility, not the men who say them. You don’t like it? Stay inside.

We’re constantly being bombarded with a kind of Stepford wife scenario where we’re told we can have it all. We can have babies and a full time career and a pelvic floor made of pure steel, and a bikini line that is just the right side of porn and we can make cupcakes while wearing high heels and having a multiple orgasm, hanging off the end of a bungee cord. Tired yet?

PS. I know men don’t have it easy either, although their pressures are different. Men are portrayed in ads as either some alpha male-James Bond type with a gold watch and a sports car, white shirt open at the neck, or as a football-mad imbecile who can’t be trusted to empty the dishwasher. Not in white trousers anyway.

*Disclaimer: No white trousers were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

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