What Exactly Are We Teaching Our Daughters? On Being Lectured About Feminism And Called A Thick Bitch Ditzy Girlie Stupid Twat Simultaneously

If I have girls, and I hope that I do, I’m going to try really hard not to give them a list of things they shouldn’t do because, genuinely, life is better without constraints, a lot of the time. But I’ll need them to know what feminism is, because no-one does now, or knowledge is selective and thin, and celebrities think it’s best to denounce the word like it shouldn’t exist and FB friends, mutual and actual ones, are always ready to educate. Be wary of that, though not wary in general. Sometimes, you have to trust your heart to the person holding it. Remember, even certificates can’t guarantee quality. And a profile picture doesn’t identify trolls, easily. So watch who you take lessons from, who’s giving them.

Firstly, importantly, I’ll tell these girls, my girls, not to call people thick bitches on Twitter, or online anywhere, because that shit spreads. And what does it say about you, that you have to resort to verbal slurs, instantaneously, extremely publicly, when rapport heads south? Secondly, to these insults, don’t label other women in attempts to degrade them, especially if you don’t know them, personally. This is important, because often women are undercut, passive aggressively, like it’s normality, so don’t remind them of the way they’re made to feel anyway by the media and members of the public. Using words like ditzy and girly and twat is just unnecessary, if you’re really trying to establish an academic point about femininity, feminism, the vote or women’s rights. Directing an insult in lieu of a conversation, unless it’s a joke one, destroys the scaffolds we’re building for our daughters so they won’t be oppressed by the moulds this world sets for them: of being ditzy, girly, stupid, twats. Labels are about as useful as Rotten Tomatoes percentage ratings: it’s a small slew of opinions.

Lastly, learn sarcasm. All too often, feminism’s so unpalatably serious, when it shouldn’t be. Sometimes a joke is the only way to make sense of something. Tread lightly online, I’ll tell my children, because you can’t completely tell tone on FB, and you might accidentally patronise somebody’s friend, assume you know most and, even if you do, say you’re the expert on what a feminist is, it’s impolite, surely, to laud this on somebody’s status, in a group conversation, and in no way upholds the feminism tenets of equality and solidarity. Don’t knock a person down if you can avoid it. Have a sense of humour about everything, even the most deplorable of things, because life will fuck you either way. And to laugh isn’t to make light, at all. Actually, it’s the only way, often, to give voice to the unpopular issues. To the subjects famous people offload like sandbags, because it’s bad business to say you care what a feminist is.

But daughters, above all, how many of you there are, be gracious. Learn what grace is. And don’t take shit. Know that there are smarter words than bitch.

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Be True

I’m going to raise rambunctious kids, all gum and gumption, spit; spirit like a Coke can exploding. Fizz but not much liquid, ultimately. Because mess is always less than you prepare for, and worry, thermal thick, defines days deeper than watches, and hearts can’t handle uncertainty. Mine can’t, anyway. Cliffhangers get to me. I don’t want to skip every exchange that makes this great like stage plays or Shakespeare or limited release movies which only play cities because small towns haven’t got time for, or all they’ve got is hours and it’s harder to schedule when silence lets your head breathe.

What I’d give to wake up without headaches, questions, regret, concern, my heart on a butcher’s shop polystyrene tray waiting to be bought because someone forgot to stick the sold sticker tight, so it sold twice. And nerve pain. I’d give my leftover dimes and Hello Kitty jewellery box filled with last year’s Topshop rings to find the sort of peace those 8 people in yoga class have, when all I can think of is dinner, ex-boyfriends, cinema times, puckered thighs and the lyrics of all Katy Perry songs.

If I raise kids, when we have them, and if, I’ll only have advice like, “Don’t date a guy ’til you’ve seen all 6 seasons of Sex and the City; skip the movies,” or, “Don’t do what I did, whatever that is,” and, “Let love make a fool of you.” And that last one, I’d say twenty times, even if it’s a lie and I didn’t do it, enough.

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Alert Went From Orange To Red

I’d like to believe the best in people. That there’s best in people, and some of us aren’t the stiff skin we seem and, underneath, our organs are swimming with meaningful feeling which we’ll bestow on another human being should we meet one.

Who am I kidding? I’ve believed the best in people, saw what they could be, not what they were. It was a cliff drop. There’s no way back from. And I’d do it again in an instant. Because it’s better than painkillers. Or I just need stronger ones.

I dreamt about you last night. But I won’t write about that. I won’t write it. And you know why? And you’ll never.

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Brinkmanship

You tell me it matters. I try to deflect any borderline-complimentary thing you might say, but last night on the phone you were firm, like a lesson outcome actualising itself before an observer, grading on a scale of 1 to 4. 4 is fail, you know?

You say that it matters, that it really, and hurts, and you hide stuff from others if it means I’ll stay but we both know I’m not the staying kind any more than you are and, if anything, that’s what will work, the unstickyness of us as a couple: I won’t live with you and you won’t want me to, when you really think about it.

Because online is best. Phone is better, but in talk time lieu, we communicate the worst way humanly (and, like, humanely) possible: Facebook. Tone’s not even the problem. Repetition is. And being that girl, scrap catcher, embroiled in a billion pointless interactions at the sake of you. Or for you. Except it’s for me. I’m the disaster.

You text ❤ like it’s a thing people do and I save up Catfish quotes for, eventually, we’ll end this. Won’t we? Maybe. We watch TV on a phone line and you say, “Someday we’ll be in the same room, together,” which is nice like the thought of grabbing a drink with Tom Cruise and finding what life is to him, you know?

This and the list of things you say which I wish I’d remember better, is what whirls when a movie’s on. And that fucking kiss.

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I’ve Grown Attached To Your Thinking

You think there’s revelation, altering us both because we’re in the same multipack. I guess our expirys match, or something, even if you’re way old, and when you say, “It’s fine,” it’s not fine because the only thing better is a stranger lying. I wish you were a catfish plethora, 6 people operating the same account so it’s always online. That would explain how you know what to say. Because, like, as it is, you spend days just thinking up a winning sentence, right?

But there’s just one of you. And you’re a dick.

There’s no satisfying answer, only, how can I sustain this many strands? I don’t read but, if I did, how’d I choose which book to finish out of the shelf stack, apocalypse-ready, except it isn’t food, so where’s the use? What’s the good in paper? Say, “You mustn’t know how I feel about you,” though I’m sure we said it, in person when we shouldn’t, and online, all starred out, on blogs, an investigator field day, matching IP addresses to the worst declarations ever, all 7 years late but, like, real, which is worse, I think. I miss doubt like a Lindsay Lohan laugh line.

Nothing happened. It’s not that. It’s the not happening, actually, being so available, droppable, how at home, achievements are glossed over like junk mail, no special offers, just my name and TV’s more attractive. And I’m sorry it hurts every time I try find a way to do a thing. But there’ll never be right, a right, and conjecture says we want the same things and the questions your friends ask I’d answer the same. But does it matter?

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Hunter

You record me sleeping, watching the dip, up of my hips on my memory-foam matress, which my mother won’t let you sit on. Once, we kept my door closed for six minutes, achieved nothing but we eke away at our curfews, the rules around us and online, 24/7, I and the other girls you Facetime, chat, watch the other’s wall paper.

I ask if you’ll save me but like the lie that you told about the girls that you’d slept with and the detail you went into to cover the fact that only your hand and a sheet and your shoe – it’s sewn up.

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