Feminism, landladies, and a general air of WTF

I’ve had a bad week or two: no running water, a flat on the first floor above what has now turned into a large, expensive cess-pit, a landlady who quite literally doesn’t give a shit about our plight (since she has the luxury of a working toilet in her home).

There’s a special kind of misery that comes when, after a two-hour roundtrip to a scummy leisure centre for a shower, you return to your flat and really notice the heady bouquet of a toilet that’s not been flushed, a washing machine full of damp washing and a sink full of dirty dishes and scummy water that have been sitting there for days. Not to mention queuing up for the one skanky toilet in MacDonalds that’s open at 11pm weeknights.

HOWEVER, I have (so far) received zero rape threats. Ditto for death threats. Or messages about bombs being left outside of my house. So it’s all relative, right?

Here are some people who HAVE received rape/death/bomb threats this week: female journalists; female authors; female MPs; female campaigners. Notice the thing they all have in common?

If you know me even a little bit, you’ll know that I’m partial to the odd feminist rant. I’ve even been told to “tone it down a bit” once or twice, which sort of just has the effect of dumping petrol on the banked coals of my righteous feminist anger. It’s not like I go on about it. It’s not “Hi, I’m Jemima, nice to meet you, doesn’t the patriarchy just make you want to scream? Let’s read feminist literature and talk about the US’s increasingly worrying stance on abortion and women’s reproductive rights!”. I try to keep it internal until I know you just a little bit better, don’t worry.

Like my experience this week, it can be utterly flabbergasting to be reminded that there are people in this world who operate on entirely different wavelengths to the majority of the population. When you come up against someone who doesn’t behave in the ways that we’ve been taught by both our parents and society in general, it can totally floor you. The overwhelming feeling is one of injustice – that it is completely and utterly unfair that these people should be allowed to behave in this way, and get away with it, when the rest of society plays by the rules. Basic rules, such as not shouting threats and abuse at women on the internet, or maybe, behaving with some empathy when you’ve forced the tenants you are responsible for to live in a flat that stinks of shit.

I have to state that in no way am I comparing my week without plumbing (as miserable as it was) with the horror of being told you need to, you are going to, you WILL be raped. But both situations this week have left me with the same feeling, which can be summed up as: WTF.

Seriously: what the fuck? What makes a man think it’s okay to say these things to a woman? Does the thought of Caroline Criado-Perez campaigning for something like putting a woman on a banknote offend you that much? Is it the thought of a determined and opinionated woman sharing those opinions that outrages you? Perhaps celebrating and respecting a female role model fills you with anger?

Or is that you hate women so very much that just the thought of glimpsing one -perhaps on a piece of paper in your wallet as you’re paying for some hula-hoops and a copy of Misogynist Monthly- sends you on a Hulk-esque rampage? If so, wow, you might want to join a monastery because there’s roughly 3 billion of us booby-humans walking around out here.

It’s a fucking bank note, for chrissake. It’s not that big of a deal. I know that the Queen’s on there, and that Darwin is about to be taken off, and I want to say maybe….Elizabeth Fry was on there, at some point, maybe? But other than that, I could not tell you who else is on there. It really doesn’t bother me, and if it’s the kind of thing that bothers you, then, well, I just don’t know what to say about that.

That’s not to say that I disagree with Caroline Criado-Perez’s campaign in the slightest: famous female Brits should absolutely be represented on our currency and I’m grateful that there are people who are willing to work to make it happen. But, just like those opposing same-sex marriage, I cannot fathom how your life can be so utterly calm and sorted that you could whip yourself into such a spittle-flecked frenzy opposing something that – like Jane Austen on your fiver- really has no impact on your life whatsoever. Even if you disagree with it, well, that’s fine. You’re allowed to. I disagree with Big Brother and boob jobs and most everything Robert Downey Jr does but, call me self-centered, I’ve got a few more pressing things to do than send threats and abusive messages to Channel 4 and Katie Price and Robert Downey Jr’s agent.

Here are just  a few of the things I think about on a daily basis that worry me more than who’s on my banknotes or the thought of two people who have a sexual organ in common committing to share their lives (and sexual organs) with each other:

* Did I leave the oven on?

* Pyroclastic flows

* Mega-tsunamis

* Regular sized tsunamis

* Robert Downey Jr

* Teenagers

* My landlady

Again, this is not to say that I don’t wholeheartedly and quite vocally support gay marriage and the fight to make it available to anyone who might wish to partake of it. It’s just that I think it’s an issue that has nothing to do with anyone who is not gay and considering getting married. Along with pretty much every feminist issue ever, I would so, so rather not HAVE to support it. Because it shouldn’t be an issue.

Those shouting out against feminists seem to think that these women (who’ve “stuck their head above the parapet” and “need to be put in their place”) are man-hating she-Nazis who are gleefully enjoying this whole thing.

So, misogynistic anti-feminists, here’s something I’d like to say to you: this is not FUN. This is not a HOBBY. There are quite literally a billion other things that we would rather be thinking about and devoting our energy to. This is not our problem, it is yours, and the way to make it go away is to make it not an issue.

Just as there would be no need for police without crime, firefighters without fire, and complaints to my rubbish landlady without the bodge job she did on the flat in the first place, feminism is a response to sexism – a reaction to the problem, and not the problem itself. If you want to stop this whole thing, if we’re annoying you, well, you know what to do.

Ball’s in your court, dickwads.


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