Here’s what happened on my International Women’s Day:
I started the day listening to Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill, which I haven’t heard since Coogan used it as a comedy device on The Trip, and before that it’d been years.
It’s alright, you know, that album. She can hold a tune and despite her much-spoofed understanding of the concept of irony, it’s great to hear a record in which someone’s willing to be vulnerable and honest. But it’s that honesty that most depresses me.
Aside from the pop-rock anthemic quality of the album, and the lovely (though screechy) vocal arrangements, I think a large part of the reason the album was successful was this sense that it was relatable. And I just don’t fucking relate.
What’s more, I’m sad that other people – especially women – would find the feelings espoused on the record as universal.
I don’t want to disparage either the creativity or honesty of another woman, especially as this is about International Women’s Day and women should be allowed to be and feel exactly what they want, without being derided for it.
This is more of a lament about the state of things.
Take, You Oughtta Know…
Here’s the answer to her questions:
‘Yes, she’d probably go down on him in a theatre. That’s not the perfect measure of the perversion you allude to. The relative merits of you both operate outside the realms of your willingness to give head in public, and in either case, it’s not a fucking competition.’
‘No, he’s almost certainly not thinking of you when he fucks her.”
“No, he doesn’t feel it when you scratch your nails down someone else’s back, it’s a physiological impossibility, and in any case, he’s busy fucking his new girlfriend.”
I want to live in a world where women just assume that anyone they used to fuck is thinking about them constantly, because they’re immeasurably unique and magnificent, but that they aren’t arsed either way. When’s that album coming out?
The dream break-up album track list would go:
- “Who are you again?”
- “Didn’t we used to fuck?”
- “Best of luck in all your future endeavours [The “Ah Well” Remix]”
- “I’m fucking great”
- At All
- “Still great”
No-one’s saying it isn’t tricky if you’re in love and someone bins you. I’m not even saying if you want to hold someone accountable for not loving you anymore, as if they were contractually obliged to, is bad. I’m not disputing her feelings, anyone else’s feelings, and I’m not saying there’s a wrong or right way to cope with rejection. Knock yourself out if you’re consumed with anger about the issue to a point where you want to write a catchy album about the whole fucking thing.
What I hate is this sense that those feelings are universal. Because they aren’t. I’ve never felt them and I’ve been in love. I hate the sense that a woman’s identity is beholden to their relationships with men.
Which is why when I’d stopped listening to Alanis on my way to work and walked into the communal staff area in which women were discussing the division of domestic labour in their homes, I felt further saddened.
I don’t care what you do in your house. I don’t care if you live in shit, or if you cook and clean all day. I don’t care if your fella does it all, or nothing.
But I do care that you’re discussing it in work. I do care that you speak about the said division of labour as if there were universal truths pertaining to gender identity and cleanliness. I do care that you’re doing it on my time. I do care that some of you are 24 and talking about still walking into domestic arrangements in which you’re doing all the fucking chores, when you don’t want to. I care that you’re arguing with your fella about him not picking his clothes up off the bedroom floor in 2015 as if there aren’t other fucking options and you aren’t in control of your own fucking living arrangements.
I care that there’s an assumption I know what you’re talking about. I care that you’re in work and there’s still this Loose Women-style narrative that this is what men are and this is what women are and that the liberated bit of it is just fucking identifying it and moaning.
You have a choice. Unless there’s a threat of physical violence in the household, and I’ve no doubt – statistically speaking – that is a reality for some of them, you have a choice. Don’t do it.
“But if I don’t do it, he won’t do it…” So none of you do it, and live in shit. Just don’t bore me with dull rhetoric, because you have a choice. And if you don’t have a choice, don’t sanctify your relationship in other instances when you talk about him being a great dad or your rock. If you’re getting the tea on simply because you’ve got a fanny, you’re not in a relationship, you’re in a fucking prison.
“Me and Steve are going to Madrid in May…”
If this is the same Steve who you’ve told the office you row with because he hasn’t washed up in four years, why don’t you go to Spain on your own and fuck a few Spaniards?
As I say, it’s not the individual women I have the problem with. We live in a society that informs us and our relationships. It’s not that people are in shit relationships; it’s that we’re creating shit relationships for each other by normalising behaviours and gender roles that are bad for us.
It’s that we live in a world in which it is commonplace for women to openly discuss and dwell on all the various ways they are oppressed, but it’s not commonplace for other women to say…” Oh man, Steve sounds like an absolute oppressive wankstain. Have you considered living with someone who’ll clean for you, or better still why not fuck your way around Great Britain and then when you cook and clean for yourself it’ll seem less exploitative?”
Later on that same day I came home to watch Better Call Saul.
Oh man, I am loving Better Call Saul.
At this point I think it has even better potential than Breaking Bad, which I also love. It has the same great cinematography and soundtrack, but I think Saul is a much more rounded character and it’s funnier. But it got me thinking about all my favourite TV programmes.
The Sopranos is the greatest, obviously. Not up for debate. Then we have The Wire, Breaking Bad… they’re all programmes that you could watch time and again and still enjoy.
And yet. No great women in any of them.
Carmella Soprano, possibly. But not until season 4 and in any case one great female – and her greatness could be contested because her role is a device for virtue over sin for much of the drama – does not make for any meaningful dent.
I don’t think I’m actively selecting male dominated dramas, either.
Game of Thrones and House of Cards have a couple of women of interest, but you couldn’t say the drama in either isn’t inherently propelled by men.
No, my International Women’s Day was dominated and, indeed, subjugated by the prevailing sense that I don’t recognise myself in the social constructs of womanhood. I don’t think I’m alone in that.
I’m reminded that there are other women in the world suffering horribly in war and poverty, and so my petty observations about what it means to be a woman are fairly meek and inconsequential.
I’m reminded that we do have that one great TV show (not Girls; Girls is shit) in which women are sexual, emotional and intellectual protagonists; Orange is the New Black (I’d put it on the school syllabus). I’m also reminded that for every Alanis there’s a Missy Elliott talking about working big dicks and using her music to boast about how beautiful and talented she is, without apology.
It’s not about slating Alanis, or the staffroom women with terrible husbands. I have lots and lots of great women in my life who don’t subscribe to aforementioned constructs either. We don’t attack the women, we attack the constructs.
I’m just saying that there’s a lot of work to be done, post-feminism is a myth, and it’s about time HBO stopped ignoring women.
Happy (Belated) International Women’s Day!