Please Read This

I’m serious.  Don’t get scared of whatever you think it is going to be about.  It is funny, and also true, and not that long.  I know you may not read it simply because I hardly ever read things people suggest that I should.

“And no one is tackling OK! Magazine, [expensive] handbags, Brazilians, stupid bachelorette parties, or Katie Price.

And they have to be tackled.  They have to be tackled, rugby-style, facedown in the mud, with lots of shouting.

Traditional feminism would tell you that these are not the important issues: that we should  concentrate on the big stuff like pay inequality, female circumcision in the Third World, and domestic abuse.  And they are, obviously, pressing and disgusting and wrong, and the world cannot look itself squarely in the eye until they’re stopped.

But all those littler, stupider, more obvious day-to-day problems with being a woman are, in many ways, just as deleterious to women’s peace of mind.  It is the “Broken Windows” philosophy, transferred to female inequality.  In the Broken Windows theory, if a single broken window on an empty building is ignored and not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may break into the building and light fires, or become squatters.

Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them.  Women will get squatters.  Clearly, this is not a welcome state of affairs.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wake up one morning and find a load of chancers in my lobby.

When Rudy Giuliani became mayor of New York in 1993, his belief in the Broken Windows theory led him to implement the “Zero Tolerance” policy.  Crime dropped dramatically, significantly, and continued to for the next ten years.

Personally, I feel the time has come for women to introduce their own Zero Tolerance policy on the Broken Window issues in our lives– I want a Zero Tolerance policy on “All the Patriarchal Bullshit.”  And the great thing about a Zero Tolerance policy on Patriarchal Broken Windows Bullshit is this: In the 21st century, we don’t need to march against size-zero models, risible pornography, lap-dancing clubs, and Botox.  We don’t need to riot or go on hunger strikes.  There’s no need to throw ourselves under a horse, or even a donkey.  We just need to look it in the eye, squarely, for a minute, and then start laughing at it.  We look hot when we laugh.  People fancy us when they observe us giving out relaxed, earthy chuckles.”

From the Prologue of How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran


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