Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Why make up is bad

A while ago, a friend invited me to chair a book group meeting on Catlin Moran's How to be a Woman. I was very chuffed, partly because I was flattered to be asked, and partly because I love the book to bits. It turned out to be pretty hilarious; all the women there (it was a women-only book group) were vaguely feministy in some degree (up to and including "I'm not a feminist but" where the but includes a belief in equal rights for women, but I was the only hardcore, unreconstructed, 1970s radical feminist - well, there may have been one other, but I was definitely the only person present who didn't shave my armpits (why should you? Men don't. If armpit hair is disgusting, why isn't it disgusting for everyone? Plus I think shaved armpits look horrid), which some people found so intriguing - they'd never seen an unshaven female armpit! Imagine, sisters! - that I stripped to show them. Shame nobody was interested in my pubes, really.

Anyway, as usual I digress. Next morning the friend asked me why I objected to make-up and as I wasn't really awake I said I just thought it wasted a lot of time. Sensibly - some people are so alert int eh mornings, it's really unfair - she asked me what I thought I achieved with the time I saved compared with her, as she wears a bit of make-up, every day I think. I rambled on dopily about all the stuff I do, and realised very quickly that I wasn't making much sense, plus she does loads of stuff too so it was pretty patronising. Ever since, I've wanted to think of a better answer. Here it is.

When I get ready in the morning, I have a wee, wash my face in cold water, get dressed, brush my hair and leave the house. When I get dressed up for a concert I wash, put on floor length sequins, brush my hair, and leave the house. So long as I remembered to wash and I brushed my hair (and it was reasonably clean - I've recently started washing it twice a week instead of once, but I reckon if you wash it more often it simply needs it more often) , I know I'm presentable. Now obviously this is time-efficient, and that can be bloody useful. But I think there's a more important, and that's that as long as I'm neat and clean, I'm happy. I don't have to doll myself up to feel I've made an effort. I don't feel that I can't face the world without my mascara. I don't fret that people won't take me seriously if I haven't got mascara on. I don't worry that I can't sleep with someone I fancy (harking back a bit here) because he'll see me in the morning without my hair straighteners, my lip gloss, my special bra, whatever. What you see is what you get. I'm good enough. I don't have to make an extra effort to look extra nice. That seems to me to be truly liberating.

It's also how it is for men. They wee, they wash, they shave, they dress, they're ready to go. Why would things be really different for women unless something weird was happening? Unless the rules for men and women were oddly different?

Another friend says she likes to put on lipstick when she's going out - it's a trigger: the act gets her into a going-out mood. That makes sense. That's not a need or an obligation; that's for fun. What I worry about is when it's not for fun, it's a necessity. If you can't got out without it, then it's a crutch, maybe an addiction. Certainly an inconvenience.

I have also never, ever ever ever, seen a woman I thought looked better with make-up on than without it. Call me a diehard old radical feminist, but smearing greasy crap into your face just seems bloody weird to me. It looks funny. You look great without any of that stuff. Honest.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sasha knows what sex he or she is

Hmm, I have a feeling that it's a bit pointless continuing to make this blog keep the secret. Anyway, if you've been reading and not known whether Sasha is a boy or a girl, skip this post.

Yes, of COURSE Sasha knows he's a boy. How could he fail to notice that he's got a willy? We have never concealed from him what sex he was. That would be silly. Plus, he's got a willy so how could you even attempt it? Duh!

The thing we don't push is GENDER. That is different. We don't say "Ooh, he's a typical boy" or "Don't  run like a girl" or "You sound like an old woman" or "Big boys don't cry".  We don't say that only girls are interested in dolls and colours and what they look like; we tell him he's beautiful. We don't assume that he likes diggers and lego because he's a boy; I like diggers and lego, and I'm a woman. Mummy has a toolbox; Daddy does the cooking. We just don't believe that stereotypes are useful when you're dealing with individuals. So we try not to restrict Sasha's options based on generalisations about gender. On the other hand, we do restrict his options based on good taste and our own opinions, which can border on sheer bloodymindedness. Barbie is banned (except for jumble sale bargains) because she is BORING and Disney is banned because their Princess crap is too yukky and they over-merchandise, and because I have never forgiven them for ruining two of my favourite books, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie-the Pooh.

What things do you ban, as a parent?