Following on from Polly Vernon’s misunderstood non-fiction book, Hot Feminist, I think I might have to write a book called “Shit Feminist”.
I’ve been thinking about it for a while, what a shit feminist I am. It all started with Miuccia Prada going on about how she hadn’t a thing to say to any woman who didn’t have a job – no wait… not a job, a career. An amazing career. “If you depend on a man for your bread,” said Mrs Prada, “how can you be happy? If you are one of those women [who doesn’t work] then I really have no conversation.”
I didn’t even have to look that quote up, it’s burned on my soul.
And first I thought oh FUCK YOU Mrs Prada you horrible dinosaur. Horrible lucky dinosaur, by the way. Your functional minimalist “geek”clothing and accessories may well be super fashionable, but you could have been a flop you know!!! 90% perspiration, 10% just being fucking lucky, mate.
And p.s. let’s not forget that all your fortunes are basically built on bulk sales of nylon shoppers that Little Sam could probably run up with the hand-crank sewing machine on the craft table at nursery.
Anyway it went on in my head like that for a while and it continued to bother me for a bit. And then feminism went mad. Like crazy. The whole of Twitter was just all about feminism and Everyday Sexism and FGM. And I stood by, just flummoxed.
Anyone who survived the 90s as a teenager – God almighty that decade has a lot to answer for -these days is so delighted and relieved that baggy clothes are back in fashion and we are no longer expected to go out for dinner wearing a pink vinyl mini skirt and a tight white t-shirt with “So Porno” written in rhinestones on the front that we feel just in that, just in the fact that it’s okay to wear trainers, like, all the time – that we have won.
But it’s not enough! We’ve got to have a girl gang and be very girl-gangy publicly and point at men who steal our jokes or talk over us or man spread and shout SEXIST SEXIST YOU ARE A SEXIST. And what about those girls protesting outside parliament about FGM with the red paint on their pants! Jesus Christ! Am I supposed to be doing that?
I can’t do it! I told you, I’m a shit feminist! Pretty much any question anyone asks me, I say “I’m sorry, I’ll have to ask my husband.” If we are in mixed company and someone throws a question out there that is not about childcare or Uniqlo cashmere sweaters I put on my “Hmmm interesting” face, and then turn to Giles and say “What do you think?”
I am fine with Kitty’s career choice at the moment being “Ninja Rock-Climber” but I also forcibly pin her down to put bows in her hair and say “don’t pick your nose it’s not nice” and sometimes say “OMG you look so pretty today,” which I know you’re not supposed to.
And I let Little Sam mansplain things to me and talk over me, partly just in, like, awe of how early all that stuff starts but also because I think it’s cute. And, and, and – I’m just a shit feminist, basically.
But mostly because through all of this, what I am mostly thinking, all the time is: how can I get my husband to buy me this Celine bag? Because I sure as hell don’t earn enough to buy it for myself.
I love you
love you too babez
Esther you do earn enough because (and I might be wrong) you look after the kids and all the drudgery that comes with it – hardest and most boring job ever, cliche but true!!! And I am a feminist but you cant bloody have it all i.e. amazing job and bring up your kids take it from someone who has tried and failed!!! Nice bag perhaps ox blood is the new grey? X
Ha Ha I’m the same…..
A Reader says
Relatedly you might enjoy Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Feminist x
Genius* Esther…write that book.
*The view of a ‘housewife’ who does a few bits on the side with perhaps a warped view of constitutes a genius.
Tricia Woodruff says
I came on here to say I love you Esther but see that I’m not the first! I can’t tell you how happy you have made me, having been in your situation and being made to feel ‘lesser’ by not having a career that meant I would have had to juggle three kids etc, – couldn’t do it.
This is truly one of the funniest things you have ever written – and that’s a high bar!
What Sarah (above) said. Also, thank you for this great post.
And this is exactly why I love you, Esther <3 <3
Eilidh McDonald says
Holy Moly, that bag costs a bloody fortune.
Moona Siddiqui says
One of the funniest things that I have read. Your honesty is just sooo refreshing xxx
Friends say to me, “isn’t it time you went back to work?” and I reply “totally, are you offering to look after my kids in the school holidays?” and that usually shuts them up.
YES. I sometimes have daydreams about some kickass job and then I go.. oh no wait.. HALF TERM CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS SUMMER HOLIDAYS EASTER HOLIDAYS HALF TERM HALF TERM TONSILITIS
Exactly!!! Anyway how much is the bag?
Feminism should be intersectional otherwise its complete bullshit. All for one and one for all and all that!
This. Exactly this. I used to have thoughts and opinions and ideas but no one is at all interested in what I think, just what I know in a “what’s for dinner?’, ‘where’s my hat?’, ‘where are we going tomorrow?’ kind of way so I have given up. And not everyone can have a fabulous career. Some of us, particularly with kids, are just making do with some kind of job. Other than the job of having kids. I’m sure Prada is bitch in Italian!
Miss East says
So, it’s bad that you’re made to feel bad about your choices. That means feminism has failed, really. Too much judging going on. And I thought the whole point was to challenge the way women get judged all the time.
But remember that you are also lucky to be able to make your choice. I have to leave my baby at 8 months when my mat pay runs out just so as a family we can afford to pay the mortgage in our London flat.
But I’m lucky too. At least I have a flat we own and are not at the mercy of scum landlord happy to let us live with rats (our last rented place). And we can afford to get me a Michael Kors bag and shop at Waitrose and go on holiday. And I quite like my job and there’s plenty of money left from my wages after childcare.
Sometimes we all need to check our privilege and understand that it’s more than 10% luck. Some women need feminism to address the balance more than others.
Miss East, if you can shop at Waitrose and go on holiday and own a flat you are laughing. But yes I appreciate it is no joke to leave your cute 8mo home to go back to the coalface 🙁
Miss East says
I didn’t want to come across as too woe is me. I know I’m lucky and I guess my point was about other women, prob not reading this blog, who need feminism a bit more than either of us.
I do sometimes wish I’d married someone with money. He sounded posh so I feel a bit duped.
I’d be furious
Love this so much. I literally said to my husband last night, before reading this, what a bad feminist I am. Love love love.
Well isn’t she just lovely. I’d say I’m a feminist, and I’m a stay at home mum. I’d say I’m more of a feminist than this horrible woman! It’s my choice to fill my life however I like, and I will not be judged by her or anyone else. Of course I am, daily, by friends, family, ex-colleagues…. but there we go. The local Jehovah’s Witness woman stood on MY doorstep the other day and told me she thinks I’m wasting my education by not going back to work, I have a law degree that cost the state and my parents money to achieve, and all those years of professional experience, did I not owe it to everyone to go back to work- she actually said this to me!!! I just laughed and smiled politely, because I’m not ‘feminist’ enough to have told her to get lost or taken up the fight with her. Also, I’m pretty sure this Prada woman’s experience of working motherhood is not the same as the woman along the road from me who is a midwife, or the woman who works in my local sainsburys, or a cleaner or a teacher or whatever! And maybe I’d find Ms Prada terribly dull to speak to anyway. Being a working mum is not an automatic badge of feminism any more than being a stay at home mum excludes you. Elaine x
Elaine I laughed and laughed at the Jehovah’s Witness story. Very funny.
Also, this bag is lovely. I had one just like it a couple of years ago that came, I think, from topshop. So I’m sure mine was much less lovely than this but it still got loads and loads of compliments. Most noteably an incredibly stylish gay guy in my London office stopped me in the corridor to compliment it profusely, I was delighted. Elaine x
literally ultimate compliment
Esther, you are a legend. Continue with your searing honesty and get Giles to hire someone to deal with the trolls and envious wankers in your in-box.
Please can we have a real, live SSFC (Spikers’ Shit Feminists’ Club) with actual meetings where we drink too much and are gleeful about not having a career and swap schemes for finagling expensive goodies out of our poor, hard-working husbands? (Says she, eyeing her new expensive birthday jacket, desperate for another cold snap…)
Sophie this is not a bad idea…
Emma Onslow says
Well said Esther. Miucca Prada can sod off. She inherited her luxury goods company from her grandfather so she didn’t exactly have to struggle whilst bringing up a young family. She must have had nannies, housekeepers the works. She’s obviously totally out of touch with reality. I’m sick of being made to feel shit by these so called “super women”.
omg is that right?!?! I didn’t know that. TRUSTAFARIAN LOSER!!!
Beautiful bag! But the price!!! Anyway we can all take comfort in the fact that Miucca Prada is a ‘handmaiden of capitalism’ (nifty phrase thanks to http://discoversociety.org/2016/03/01/viewpoint-liberating-motherhood-and-the-need-for-a-maternal-feminism/)
Full disclosure: I tell my daughter she is beautiful everyday (she is), dress her almost entirely in pink tones (suit her colouring) and think it’s hilarious when she pretends to feed her brother’s buses and puts them to bed. I also do the cleaning, largely because the thought of having to have the entire house tidy for a cleaner sends me into cold sweats. My feminist self is appalled but there we are.
ha ha! I laughed hard at feeing the buses and put them to bed. hilarious. Kitty just steals Sam’s buses and lamps him in the face with them. now SHE is a feminist. and concomitantly frightening.
It’s a tricky one. Obviously, the definition of feminism is that you believe women are equal to men, which I presume most people here do. I totally see your point about not being made to feel guilty for choosing to stay home with kids but I definitely have friends who almost gave a sigh of relief when they became pregnant and immediately gave up work. I suspect their heart was never really in forging a career, which is dangerous as not everyone gets the dream of being married with children. I also wonder whether you’d feel more strongly if you worked in an office; having a man/boy speak for or over you may be charming at home but is certainly not ideal in an office environment. I work in a make-dominated, aggressive workforce and constantly having to defend your right to having an opinion is pretty tiresome. Just my point of view and, for what it’s worth, I think you’re a pretty good feminist :).
Ha ha! That’s a good point. I don’t recall taking much shit at any of the newspapers I worked at – and left the Independent because it was so irredeemably chauvinist.
I love this. You know, when I was younger (about 22) and had an “impressive” graduate job, my flatmate explained to her boyfriend that I might be clever but really I was a complete bimbo … all I ever talked about was boys and clothes. Good thing really, if I’d talked about work stuff (apart from gossip), it would have been dry as anything.
Now the bag. It looks very pretty in the picture. But you know that, at that price, it would either:
– get scratched and make you CRY WITH RAGE; or
– get stolen by thieves who target people with expensive bags (at least this will be covered by the insurance).
I have thought a lot about this and I dont think you are a shot feminist. I am also (despite three degrees and a part time job) supported by my mega successful husband. I live in a lush house, have help and buy stuff I could never have bought (even in the alternate reality where I didn’t marry him/ reached the highest point possible for me at work etc) BUT we are an equal partnership. I ask before buying big and/or frivolous stuff BUT SO DOES HE. We are respectful to each other and a team. He earns more BUT that doesn’t make him team captain. Shit feminism would not look like that WITHOUT MORE. Also, I bet your daughter. Is georgeous, so why not tell her? So long as she’s also praised for her brains/ Lego building powers etc.! Xxx
Oooh Elena I wanna come round your lush house and talk about handbags xxx
Emma Onslow says
Elena I really like what you have said. Its so true. In my opinion feminism is all about being an equal partner no matter who earns what in a relationship.
Also, the Claret Robin bag by Mimi Berry http://www.mimiberry.co.uk/collections/women/products/robin-claret
Tales from the middle ages says
BEING A MOTHER IS A FUCKING CAREER! It’s probably the most important one of all. I get so tired of people saying “no I don’t work I’m at home with the kids” then yes you do work ! Well it’s the hardest fucking job I’ve ever done. If the “working” partner didn’t have us at home looking after their progeny THEY WOULD BE PAYING SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT. THEREFORE do not feel bad about sharing the loot equally when the so-called “breadwinner” gets his pay check (or hers I’m not sexist). We have earned our handbags.
Oh. So. True. Where would all the men chefs be without somebody at home looking after things? Ditto any man with a demanding career. I’ve often thought how lovely it would be to have a wife like me (or any of my friends) to compliment my working life. Unless you are married to a gay man, the woman does most of the dreary mundane crap which necessitates building a life together. It’s not that the men are nasty or horrible or abusive, it’s just THEY DON’T SEE WHAT WE DO! It’s like the bloody film when the little boy says I SEE DEAD PEOPLE – well the women see and smell the stinky bin, dirty towels, hand prints, hair in the sink … I’m too exhausted to carry on but that’s my take on things …
a gay man… or a Jewish prince, like my husband. but he doesn’t silently deal with the stinky things he goes WHAT’S THIS FUCKING STINKY THING?? but – he also pays for an extortionate amount of cleaning so that we don’t simply get divorced over it
Em B says
I’m on maternity leave with our 2nd at the moment and it’s half term and I have had such a hideous day I’m currently hiding in our bedroom covered in flecks of banana and sodding baby rice flicking between this article and my Zara shopping bag which currently totals £472. This article is just brilliant & keeping me vaguely sane THANK YOU.
I’m hating this half term
Laura Lovett says
Just fucking BRILLIANT.