Convert or perish: On Germaine Greer

This post is a collaboration with the brilliant Hypotaxis.

Regular readers of our blogs don’t need an introduction to the canonical liberation feminist work of Germaine Greer, nor do they need a recap of what’s happening to her in the news this week. But, to sum up: Greer is under fire for hurting Bruce Jenner’s feels – and by extension, the feels of other men who say they are women – for maintaining that they are not, in fact, women, and that misogyny is the basis of Glamour magazine’s decision to consider Bruce Jenner for its Woman of the Year award, i.e., Jenner’s pretty hair, makeup, nails and fashion make him a better woman than someone who was simply born a woman.

Because of this, Cardiff University – Greer’s own academic institution – will not offer her an honorary degree; nor will it allow her a platform to speak. A change.org petition with nearly 2,000 signatures accuses Greer of  “demonstrating misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.”

These are lies.

In this six-minute interview clip, Greer makes it very clear she believes male-to-female transsexuals should “carry on,” should do what they need to do to feel comfortable; and that she’s happy to use “female speech forms as a courtesy.”:

However, here’s where she doesn’t bend: Male-to-female transsexuals are men, and Bruce Jenner is angling for the kind of attention lavished on the Kardashian women.

“I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through the procedure,” Greer says. “What I’m saying is it doesn’t make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion; it’s not a prohibition.”

The interviewer persists in dragging the discussion into various side alleys – What about intersex, huh? What about someone who has a uterus and testes, huh? Aren’t you being insulting? Some people think this kind of speech incites violence.

Greer, patiently, re-iterates that intersex conditions and transsexuality are two different things; reminds the interviewer that trans has never been her issue (because, guess what, her issue is WOMEN); and then cracks herself up laughing at the recollection of the many times she herself has been insulted.

“Try being an old woman!” she says, and we know what she means: An old woman is invisible; is offensive by continuing to exist long after her beauty and fertility and usefulness to men are gone.

In fact, hey – look at the first comments posted here underneath the interview:

ggreer

No one is accusing these commenters – especially the second – of violent, hateful, dehumanizing speech, as they would if the comment were directed toward, say, Laverne Cox or Caitlyn Jenner: that’s because Greer is female; is elderly; is firm in her unpopular, non-male-centered opinion. So it doesn’t matter what people say about her. She no longer counts.

While older men are celebrated for their wisdom and important insight (think, for example, an entire Oscar-winning documentary, The Fog of War, centered on the musings of an eighty-something McNamara), society does not regard older women in the same way. We do not afford older women the opportunity to be heard – unless they are willing, as say, Betty White, to perform for our amusement.

The liberal feminist movement itself is consumed in a deep, profound hatred of older women who are feminists. “Second Wave” has become a pejorative, principally because what the Second Wave represented was women’s refusal to cater to the needs and demands of men; to emancipate themselves from patriarchy.

Liberal feminists work tirelessly to distance themselves from the women who came before – be they Second Wave or suffragette. Liberal feminists have been conditioned to cut themselves off from their predecessors because their predecessors did not prioritize the way men might feel if women earned the right to vote, take birth control, start a group, publish a book, found a magazine, apply for credit, or get a job.

Second Wave feminists, in particular, were not afraid to say men and men’s needs were the primary cause of women’s suffering – even Betty Friedan, founder of NOW, got freaked out and attempted to distance herself as feminists of the 60s and 70s started to openly, unabashedly name the problem. And though we can’t speak for Friedan, we would hazard that she knew men were the problem, but distanced herself from the claim in order that she not end up, at the tail end of her career and life, villainized the way Greer is being villainized now. (And yes, we are also aware Friedan was afraid of being labeled a lesbian, and saw lesbians as a detriment to the movement.)

Even Gloria Steinem came out in support of the idea of ladybrain – and we don’t think she believes it any more than Greer does. But because the current liberal feminist mandate is that female is a feeling in a man’s head, Greer and Steinem have both been faced with a difficult choice: Say you’ve converted to Genderism (even if you haven’t) or be prepared to have your entire life’s work eclipsed by our culture’s staid belief that hurting a man’s feelings amounts to blasphemy.  

Convert or perish.

Young liberal feminist women have been given terms like “queer” and “cis” to confuse them into believing that their suffering is not real or, if it is real, it does not result from being born female.

When older sisters, like Greer, speak, when they say, “Listen! Women and girls have real, actual problems that have nothing to do with a man’s ability to craft the visage of ‘woman’” we, as a society, are quick to censure them, to call them “mad,” to infer they are insane with old age.

This is a trope, a motif. We see this in countless so-called “classic” and “beloved” tales: Great Expectations, Sunset Boulevard, Snow White, Macbeth, to name a very small few. We see this pattern, too, in our pop culture, in our politics: an aging woman is an angry woman, is jealous, is insane, is a being (not quite human, not quite woman) bent on evil.

The only “good woman” over fifty is one who is silent, deferential, nurturing, OR willing to make a fucking fool of herself.

But if one was to actually listen to a single word Greer has said on the topic, one would hear that hers are not the belligerent ravings of a madwoman, but rational, intelligent responses to a lunatic conversation she has been relentlessly dragged into despite the fact, as she has repeatedly stated, that she has zero interest whatsoever in discussing the matter, or thinking about the matter.

Here’s the bizarre reality: this interviewer is seated across from Germaine Greer – brilliant scholar, feminist icon, a woman who has nearly eighty years of experience and insight – and the best she can do is ask her about Bruce fucking Jenner?

But we, I suppose, are in the minority in that we value older women; we have friendships with women who are twenty, thirty, forty years our senior; we look to our elder sisters for advice, and are eager to hear their perspectives. We do not see women like Greer as freakish “others.”

Cardiff will not give Greer her earned and deserved honorary degree because she, unlike Steinem, refuses to espouse a belief in ladybrain. Greer will not betray a lifetime of scholarship and activism, she will not disappear her convictions, in order to cradle the fragile male ego, in order to pander to bullshit liberal feminism, and to perpetuate what we all know is a gigantic fucking lie.

But you know who wasn’t denied an honorary degree? Mike Tyson, a man who raped and beat women. Mike Tyson, who BIT ANOTHER MAN’S EAR OFF ON LIVE TELEVISION.

Who else; who else. Oh, yeah: Kanye West, author of immortal rap lyrics including  ”We got this bitch shaking like Parkinson’s,” “Black dick all in your spouse again,” and “I keep it 300, like the Romans/300 bitches, where’s the Trojans?” has an honorary doctorate.

So does Kermit the Frog. No shit. From Southampton College.

Roman Polanski anally-raped a female child. He gets LOTS of awards and makes LOTS of speeches.  

Hurt feelings — hell, hurt bodies —  in no way jeopardize a man’s public career. Very few men are maligned for talking shit about women, and absolutely no man is shamed for speaking, as Greer has, in simple, verifiable facts.

Go back a second, though, to Kanye’s Trojans, because this whole Greer thing forcibly reminds us of the ancient Greek myth of Apollo and Cassandra.

Despite his good looks, Apollo didn’t have such a great reputation with the ladies. He had a history of attempted rape (which, in ancient mythology, is not regarded as too great a transgression), and of bribing women for sex.  For Apollo, a figure who is supposed to represent the “perfect man” in form and intellect, all women could be bought, and when they could not be bought, they could be forced, and if they could not be bought or forced, they would be cursed.

When he offered Cassandra, a Trojan woman, the power of prophecy in exchange for sex, she gave it some thought but ultimately rejected him. Apollo, in turn, cursed her: she would have prophetic gifts, but never be believed.

In fact, she would be thought a liar and a madwoman.

And so, when Cassandra foresaw the Trojan War, no one listened.

When she insisted, “The Trojan Horse is full of men hiding!” people laughed at and insulted her.

Finally, she grabbed an axe and a burning torch and ran toward the horse, in an effort to destroy it before it destroyed Troy – but the Trojans stopped her, therefore ensuring their own destruction.

The men hiding in the horse were tremendously relieved.

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relay races and affirmations

We had a tween girls’ group running around yesterday at my gym. It’s great to see a dozen multiracial 8-11 year old girls enjoying female-only activities; especially when the goal is to build confidence through physical accomplishment, but from what I saw I think they may be caught in the same dusty trap.

The first part of their activity was sitting in a circle with their coach, doing a short lesson on eating disorders.

“Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height,” one little moppet read aloud from the handout. “People with anorexia may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight. They may diet or exercise too much or use other ways to lose weight.”

Cool, fine. It’s not like I expected them to get into patriarchal beauty standards as a method of male power, control and distraction (not that they’re too young; I’m just not expecting it) and at least they were getting a few facts before middle school starts eating their brains, but then they went out on the gym floor and started a relay race game. This involved starting at one end of the gym and running hell-bent-for-leather to the other, gasping and laughing and catching their breath before they yelled out an affirmation:

“I AM SOOOO SMART!”

Hmm. OK. This was not de rigeur when I was a kid, when the ego-stroking of oneself was known as “bragging,” and also we knew not everyone was smart, but then again we didn’t have 24-hour entertainment/celebrity channels or criminally-actionable cyberbullying. So maybe kids today need to really bust it out in order to offset all that.

“I AM SOOOO PRETTY!”

Shit. Really? No adult with this program thought that one out?

“EVERYBODY LIKES ME!”

Aw, no. This is not a good affirmation! This is not a good goal! If everybody likes you, either you’re a co-dependent shape-shifter, false  to yourself in order to please others, or you have no discernible personality at all, in which case someone’s bound to dislike you because you don’t have a mind of your own.

Plus: I happen to know that one indispensable ingredient to a full-fledged, weapons-grade eating disorder is wanting everyone to like you. Add that to believing “pretty’ = “desirable character trait that buoys self-esteem,” mix in some toxic misogyny such as these girls are steeped in every minute, and you’ve just undone your worthy goal of inoculating them against self-destructive dieting and exercise behavior.

Maybe I could volunteer with this program. My  affirmations will be:

“THE ONLY FEELINGS I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR ARE MY OWN!”

“I PICK FRIENDS BASED ON COMPATIBILITY AND SHARED VALUES!”

“WHEN I GROW UP, I WILL BE FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT!”

“I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK!”

Today, on the tippy-top of Bullshit Mountain, you will find Jillian Michaels’ Facebook post

Ready to climb Bullshit Mountain with me? Let’s go!

headless fatty on a bike

 

So. Fitness-celeb Jillian Michaels assumes that women of size feel shame when working out at the gym, in public, amongst the Thins. I call that condescending presumption dressed up to look like encouragement, inspiration, and tough-love truth. It’s a fitness neg, like when some rando approaches you at a party and says, “You’re really pretty…have you ever thought of growing your hair out?”

SCAM! Don’t fuck that guy, and don’t internalize this headless-fatty meme either. See how the woman in the photo is cut off at the neck? She’s being depersonalized because her body is somehow so shameful they had to omit her face, yet told not to be ashamed for trying. Like, don’t be ashamed to go to the gym, Fatty McFatterson, even though your body is so objectionable we mercifully protected your identity!

Super neg! The triple twisting Yurchenko vault of emotional/marketing manipulation!

I don’t hate Jillian Michaels. I have all the damn DVD’s, and one or two are engaging enough (if you fast-forward past all the “Be your best you! Everybody else is taken!” pep talk at the end).

It’s hard to be your best you when someone “cheers you on” by judging your start as a weak one before you’re hardly on the goddamn bike, or trail, or weight rack – because you don’t look like they think you’re supposed to.

It hurts when someone posts an image online to inspire you…to NOT look like the woman in the image; the woman you actually do look like today, at this very moment, except that you have a face.

It sucks to feel good about yourself for a while, then feel bad again when someone reminds you how very deficient and lacking you are.

This is the mental soundtrack for the binge, the purge, the cravings, the vomiting, the laxatives, the endless hours on some Sisyphus machine, “paying” for the binge you had when you felt like shit about yourself, or the meal you enjoyed when you felt good. The fitspo industry party line officially disowns all of the above, of course, but let me direct you to that cute little sign in every head shop: For tobacco products only.

I like your boxing workout, Jillian. But I thought your post was super-ugly. Ugly on the inside. Right where it counts.

 

 

here’s how it ends

In a hospital cafeteria last week, an old man stood ahead of me in line for oatmeal. He reminded me of my dad, except he couldn’t use his hands very well. Oatmeal was getting everywhere and he looked embarrassed yet friendly, so I asked if he was at the hospital for physical therapy.

He said no. His daughter had died upstairs that morning of anorexia.

He was alone and so was I, so we ate together. Straightening his sugar packets in a careful pile, he told me about his daughter, who’d been my age – such a happy baby; such a bright girl – but when she was 15 she got funny about food and exercise; her weight; they spent a small fortune on rehab and counselors and some days she seemed better but other days worse.

Days became years. She wore people out.  He finally let her go, to do what she was going to do. He was sad but not surprised. He needed to go back to her apartment and go through her things for Goodwill.

“When she died,” he said, “it was like watching a fish drown in air.”

This is why I use my small sphere to fight what I fight: Because it really could have gone either way for me. You think thigh gap is some new thing the Internet invented? Thigh gap is ancient; thigh gap and bikini bridges and drink this chalky shit instead of food and here is what a woman must do to please The Great Eye are eternal because woman-hating is eternal. Thigh gap is a spot of necrotizing fasciitis in my psychic tissue where the blood supply got cut off in 1987 like it did for this old man’s daughter and the only difference is mine happens to be contained.

I want us to be clear on what the current culture does to women – even if we don’t read the magazines or watch the shows or visit the sites. It’s like secondhand smoke. It clings.

It’s why I don’t play the game, but I watch it every day. It’s a lucrative game for a lot of people, and it comes to us in friendly guises like “health” and “fitspiration” to encourage us to play; to mentally buy in. The game can be hot and compelling – can feel like you’re winning, even – but here’s how it ends: A sad old man eats a bowl of oatmeal in a hospital cafeteria and tells a stranger how he used to carry you on his shoulders in the swimming pool; how you used to laugh so easy.

“Tinier, tinier”: I attended a Pure Barre class so you don’t have to

We went to a Pure Barre class on Saturday because I was curious about its website’s biologically-impossible and fanciful promises, e.g. “You will stretch, to elongate the muscles while they are warm and malleable. This leads to long, lean muscles!”

PB seemed like the foil to CrossFit – rather than loading a bar with weight and using your whole body to hurl it into the air, you grab a ballet barre and do teensy isometric movements designed to help you “defy gravity.” Sign my ass up! Here is $15 for some special non-slip socks.

When we walked into the studio, I realized that I had never seen so many unhappy 37-year-old straight Caucasian females in Lululemon gear in one place in my entire life. And I lived in downtown Toronto for three years.

No one spoke to each other. If you are a diehard Pure Barre-issima whose studio is full of joie de vivre I am glad for you, but these ladies had nothing to say. Of course I can’t get inside anyone else’s head, but the weight of experience told me that they were working within a grim psychogenic framework; possessed by an entrenched belief that parts of their bodies were unacceptable. They were there for a specific, elusive goal: to get smaller; to burn away all fleshly inessential. I noticed a lot of “fire,” “torching,” and “melting” imagery in the instruction. Much emphasis on the fold between butt and thigh (a thing for which the Germans probably have a word*); a distaste for “bulk,” and the aforementioned “long, lean muscles.”

"Long": I don't think it's working, but one time I pushed a car six blocks

“Long”: I don’t think it’s working, but one time I pushed a car six blocks

I am five feet, two inches tall. The only way to achieve long, lean muscles is to be born with them, or to discover a new gene-altering DNA-recombination technique. The belief that we can change the length of our muscles is an unfortunate side effect of scientific illiteracy, slimed along by diet/fitness corporate shit plus patriarchal beauty mandates which have been thoroughly deconstructed but still hang over our heads and we know why.

Anyway, I wasn’t very good at PB. I like moving everything, so it was hard to lie in my stomach and raise my right toes infinitesimally off the floor 58 times as the instructor metronomed “Up an inch/down an inch/up an inch/down an inch.” Maybe it really works after awhile –  you have to do anything for at least a month if you want to see a difference – but at $20 a pop, I’ll never know.

That said, I did like the barre itself. It’s fun to hang onto things real hard and not have them explode free in a shower of cement and drywall flakes, you know? We got into a groove where we’d all do little plies, straighten up, then bend over at once, and when I looked behind me to check the form, I was greeted with an amazing line of buttcracks winking at me through sheer Lululemon leggings. Plies, straighten, bend, asscracks; plies, straighten, bend, asscracks. This sounds like circuit training. It sort of was!

At one point, we were supposed to pick up a pair of 1 lb hand weights but I couldn’t do it without feeling ridiculous so I minced balletically over to the weight cubbies (weight cubbies!) and selected a pair of 5s. All the ladies noticed and said “oooOOOOooo.”  How much fun it would be to bring some heavy lifters to a barre class? Like the fitness Tower of Babel!

I’m not sore from the workout. I was hoping to be. I like a little lactic-acid burn along with my joint safety, so maybe we should combine PB and Crossfit. Screams and whispering, interlaced: “Up an inch/down an inch/up an inch – NOW RUN! EIGHT HUNDRED METERS UP AND BACK, 15 PULLUPS, 10 SNATCHES AND A BEAR CRAWL! HIT THE FLOOR! annnnd up an inch/down an inch, RUN! RUN!”

The last 10 minutes of the class (abs) were a fabulously weird finisher, because the instructor got up reeeeal close to me and whispered in my ear, “Tiny movement. Go tinier. Tinier.” Only she was miked, so the soundtrack to my not-cured-but-controlled body-dysmorphic nightmares echoed throughout the room for everyone and their asscrack to hear.

Afterwards, we went to Whole Foods for kale smoothies and then to a UFC boxing class, where we hit the bags for an hour.

We were much happier there.

 

*A friend just told me that, amongst rock n’roll types,  this fold is known as the “giddy-up.”

*UPDATE: Try this one if you like barre. The lower body workout is a blaster and she only says “burn the fat” like, twice.

 

Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Retreat: I thought it was a joke from The Onion

I never thought of a plantation as a place to party, not even when I lived in South Carolina. Never took a plantation tour or attended a plantation wedding (people really do this!) because it just seemed weird. I had to drive past the Confederate flag twice a day on the way to work and back as it waved merrily above the State House in Columbia, and that freaked me out enough. I’m, like, from Arizona. I didn’t understand a lot of things out there, like cheese grits or wearing pantyhose to work or “Sugar Pig” as a term of endearment.

I was just there for a job. And, no matter how long you live in the South, if you weren’t born there? You’re a visitor.

Southerners avoid discussing the region’s racial history with outsiders, but I did manage to meet a few pro-Confederate Flaggers who had a one-sided romance with “history” and “tradition.” Their position was, the flag didn’t necessarily support the institution of slavery but merely recalled a gracious bygone era and states’ rights. (My position was, this position was disingenuous).

And I met liberal Southerners of all races who thought nothing of attending events held at plantations (they’re listed in historic registers all over the South, where the word “plantation” isn’t loaded in the same way as everywhere else) but who HATED the flag.

Sometimes there’d be protests outside the State House, and at one of them I saw a Black woman holding a sign that said, “Your Heritage Is My Slavery.” This, I thought, was sufficient reason to take the flag down. Common sense! As George Costanza said, We’re living in a society here. We’re trying to rub along together in 21st century America with all its attendant unrest and trouble; why give unnecessary insult? Why be weird? That flag is weird! Plantations are weird! I still think this.

So. I’m not the Ani fan I was 10 or 15 years ago – her last few albums were music to wear hemp sweaters to – but I connected with her work so deeply, and for so long, that the Nottoway Plantation retreat shitstorm is a big sad ugh. I recall with unalloyed pleasure my first girl-kisses with Up Up Up Up Up Up on repeat during a foggy September night; the scent of patchouli lingering on my mouth-friend (a girl who’d marked Ani’s 30th birthday on her wall calendar) and I still play “Living in Clip” real loud when I clean the house, but the magic is mostly memory for me.

If you knew that magic, you remember: Ani was singing about you, for you. She was plucking out, with duct-taped press-on nails, the rhythms of your life. You knew the B-sides; you hung the posters; you cried on your ex-girlfriend during “Both Hands” (yeah, ex-gf came to the show with you) and took fuzzy photographs from the second row. You wished you were her guitar-changer.

We didn’t have an Internet to tell us we weren’t alone.

But I’m not 23 anymore, and Ani is worth 10 million dollars. She’s an empire who no longer personally watches over every aspect of her business; otherwise RBR wouldn’t have participated in an event at a place that whitewashes slavery (an institution known for sexual violence against women; something history books gloss over) and funnels money to right-wingers. Her fan base is liberal  and progressive; sensitive to hypocrisy of any kind, and they’re quoting her own lyrics back at her (They were digging a foundation in Manhattan/and they found a slave cemetery there…)

Her no-caps response to the escalating pile-on – much of it misogynistic, abusive and demonizing in ways unique to anonymous social media – reads badly. Whether her PR people were simply unprepared for this kind of disaster and gave her bad advice, or if they gave her good advice (apologize quickly, clearly, unequivocally, and briefly) to many it reads like an oblivious elitist didn’t hear a word they said – and for them, that negates 25 years of activism.

I don’t know if it’s my place to say they’re wrong, or to opine how a plantation site should be “reclaimed,” because I’m not Black. (It was former inmates who decided Auschwitz should be a made into a museum, you know?)

Reading non-Black opinions re: Nottoway plantation (excepting Tim Wise’s piece) reminds me of my feelings when non-teachers share vehement opinions re: education politics and classroom management strategies, or when my great-uncle says, dismissively,”No one really discriminates against the gays anymore.”

I hate that. So presumptuous! I think: This is not your pain, your struggle,  your history or your reality, so you wouldn’t know. You can’t. I’m not mad at you for not knowing, just for not listening, so hush for a minute – 30 seconds, even! – and listen. Then you can ask questions.

Nobody ever went wrong that way.

On E. coli, the grassy knoll, and the second wave

I got food poisoning Friday night via some artisanal microgreens I paid too much for and was reluctant to trash. They smelled suspect but the date was OK, so I thought, “maybe it’s just one bad leaf,” and put vinegar and oil on them. Six hours later I exploded. Awful things happened to me; things I can never un-see, so I am evangelistic tonight; the Chuck Colson of food safety: If in doubt, throw it out. Fuck a triple-washed basil/fenugreek mélange if it doesn’t smell perfectly fresh, because know what’s pricier? A cart full of bland foods and E. coli-killing cleaning agents:

?????????

It was the kind of sick where your entire body gets involved in a full-court, military defense against death by bacteria; a cycle of PUKE —> 30 minutes relief —> 20 minutes moaning nausea —>PUKE —> try not to poop on your feet —> repeat for eight hours. So I couldn’t sleep, and the only thing on TV besides infomercials (Don’t Let Your Neck Reveal Your Age!) was a Kennedy assassination documentary. It’s a big anniversary. Fifty years.

I rode with the show and another like it throughout the night, trying to distract myself. During each 30-minute nausea-relief period, I’d get interested, like, Wow, Oswald had 11 seconds to fire three shots, not six seconds, which makes a huge difference, especially if one of the bullets deflected off the traffic light — and then the nausea would build oh god oh god as Jack and Jackie landed in Love Field, and then they’d turn left on Elm Street oh noooo and then Kennedy would be shot just as I puked into a mixing bowl.

The Zapruder film looked worse on my bigscreen than it did in 11th-grade history. Another thing that looked worse: Every journalist, every doctor, every government official (except Judge Sarah Hughes who swore in Lyndon Johnson; she’s the exception who proves the rule) is male. Fifty years ago, that wasn’t jarring; most people didn’t think twice about it, and they wouldn’t until about 1967. Until the second wave.

Which is why I get scared and angry when women shrug the second wave off like it’s irrelevant to their lives. Like their safe, legal birth control; sports scholarships; and law degrees just sort of…happened! A gift from an enlightened Universe! Too many women think that fifty years ago, every single one of them would have been Sarah Hughes. It’s a weird kind of exceptionalism.

The truth: No matter how special or smart you are, on Nov. 22, 1963 you’d be in the background shot, sweetheart. Most likely you’d be home crying in front of the TV, but if you “had to work,” you’d be teaching sixth grade or pounding out your nursing shift or transcribing on Dictaphone things men said. You wouldn’t get anywhere near the Warren Commission or Air Force One, or even the city desk of the Dallas Morning News. And if you did, you’d pay dearly in terms of your personal life. Men didn’t want to marry career girls; just ask Life magazine and the Ladies’ Home Journal.  And career girls who loved other career girls? Yeah, have fun. Pregnant and didn’t want to be? Raped and trying to report it to the police? Good luck with all that.

This is in the past, like nausea that’s hard to remember after it’s over. But we must remember, because lots of people would be delighted to return to that past; or can’t be arsed to imagine how it felt to actually live in that past.

If we’re smart, we’re afraid of a recurrence. We snap our heads up fast upon smelling the slightest waft of patriarchal funk. We don’t say “it’ll be fine,” and ignore tiny signs of rot in our healthy, verdant lives. Because, by the time we smell it, the rot’s gone pretty deep; and once we start to feel sick? We’re in for an ordeal.