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.