The F word

not-giant-enough-letter-fAll this talk of feminism of late, it’s become impossible to avoid it. From Emma Watson’s candid speech delivered to the UN last week, to Lena Denham’s new book ‘Not that kind of girl’; smatterings of the word are inserted into almost every other media interview you come across. The word has become loaded with celebrity comment, hyper-fashionable status, and in danger of becoming an over-used by-product of sold out self-help books and instagram inspo’s. When in passing conversation I quizzed some of my closest friends what they made of the media flurry, they looked indifferently at each other as though I’d just suggested alphabetising the bookshelf. On digging a little deeper into the word and the weighted issues it exposed, pay inequality and gender stereotyping came up first and foremost. Opinions sparked debate, which inevitably aired candid personal experiences, and most importantly, hopes for future change. It seemed the word itself was too big, too broad, and even confusing on its own, but coupled with the raw, daily salt of smacking inequality (and possibly a few too many glasses of pinot grigio), it would have made even the passive of females whip out her nipples and pledge to become the twelfth member of Pussy Riot.

Drawing on my own encounters, I had very little hair growing up, which often made people admire my liberal Mother for “letting her little boy wear whatever he pleased” whilst playing in the sandpit in floral dungarees. I was made to wear waistcoats and tights in the dance shows, my hair scraped back with pots of 99p gel into quiffs I thought even John Travolta would have been proud of, whilst all the other little girls got to look like lost Quality Streets in bacofoil style tutu’s and matching scrunchies. Most certainly a late bloomer, I played football with the boys and didn’t need a sports bra until the grand old age of fifteen. Feminism, or at least my first exposure to the concept came in the form of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings courtesy of the English lit curriculum. Combined with a maverick teacher who would curse the over-applied make-up and overt sexuality shown by many of the pupils at the school who artfully applied lipliner like Christina Aguilera each morning, and hiked up their skirts to do their best Britney impression at break time. Shunning this look for corduroy flares (not through choice but unequivocal parental lockdown), the combination seamlessly intertwined into my later Alanis Morrisette phase, which later led into my rather  niche phase of listening to only female fronted ska bands. This appropriately exposes a poem I uncovered recently that I wrote at the age of seventeen. It seemed I had a more informed idea of feminism then than I do at this very moment…


Heels heighten the average female,

Average familiars talk life via email,

Familiars compete in timeless affairs,

In timeless denial, they shag the au pairs,

Denial gift wraps problems arisen,

Gift wrap endures as long as ambition.

Dietary supplements disguise ageing innards,

Aging generations spawn bitter winners,

Bitter connections hasten technology,

Connections established in vain hope and glory,

Hope belongs to a museum display,

Belonging, monochromes landscapes to grey.

Denatured senses arise to applaud,

Senses that not for the virginal time are implored,

For whom should I wash this house proud china?

Wash this, revolutionary; you were given a vagina,

Revolutionary, you must sex up this roast dinner,

Grow to love the chase that will make you thinner.

My foe befriends me in store card debt,

Befriends me helpless, unjust and inept,

Helpless are the remains turning me adulterate,

Remains shadowing societies inadequate,

Shadowing forms of airbrushed whims,

Forms of shared torture, carried out in gyms.

My friend tells me not the truth,

Never regretful of behaviour uncouth,

The behaviour acceptable amongst the elite,

Their identities suffer upon the title ‘discrete’.

But upon my grave,

I fear it shall define,

‘Here lies a woman’

‘Her existence benign’