ike everyone else, I was lured in by the drama of the American election coverage. Despite trying to avoid the worst comments I found myself reaching for the sick bag along with the rest of the world at Donald Trump’s ‘locker room banter,’ and then reaching for the pom-poms to cheer Michelle Obama’s fierce insistence that when it comes to sexist and predatory comments,“enough is enough.”
I hate the idea of either gender gathering in a secret huddle to objectify the other. You miss so much when you reduce one half of the world’s population to objects, or sneer that people should just “look at her”, as if looking at someone tells you anything important about them. Why not subjectify the opposite sex instead? Identifying with each other as living, thinking, laughing equals.
Because we’re more similar than we are different. Defining ‘girl’ as the opposite of ‘boy’ makes it hard to describe what it’s like to be a woman without either criticising men or painting women into a corner. If men are strong, women must be weak. Or if women are caring, men must be monsters. If we stuff all women (or all men) in the same pigeonhole then we all suffocate. Better to let everyone be whoever they want to be.
None of the women I know meet any definition I’ve ever heard of 'woman'. They defy stereotypes and live as unique and complex individuals. Women exist as so many things to so many people: a manager and industry leader, but also a mother and a daughter; authoritative and respected, but also artistic and fashionloving; demanding and outspoken, but also vulnerable and caring.
It can be a struggle to feel good about all the conflicts within us. Sometimes it’s all too much, and we worry we might burst with the pressures of seemingly incompatible desires and expectations. But women should be encouraged not only to accept, but also to celebrate their multiple identities. We need to understand there is no shame, and a lot to be proud of, when we refuse to choose and we embrace all our selves.
So, I can spend years training at university and still spend my time writing stories about naughty unicorns and exploding toilets. I can have an informed opinion on the world economy and still perform stand-up comedy in a Batman mask. I can be a good mum and still need a hug myself on bad days. I can fight for gender equality and still love it when male friends offer to carry my bags. And I can write a column about how awful it is to objectify the opposite sex and still get overexcited because Idris Elba has just appeared on the television. I can be “a nasty woman” but I can also be nice. Because that’s who I am. It’s good to be a woman. n