How far have we come? Here’s a to-do list,
How far have we come? Here’s a to-do list, writes Ruth Spencer.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, such as all the time. There are big, serious inequalities that get their own hashtags but it can be the little. daily things that get you down. They’re the residual annoyances of the (yes, still) patriarchal society in which we drudge. Mannoyances, if you will. Here are just some of the lingering mannoyances and how to fix them.
Things marketed to women cost more. Razors, painkillers, shower gel, glass ceiling polish: anything wrapped in glittery pink plastic is just a little bit more expensive. And why not? Glitter is the poor woman’s diamond — and you want to support fair conditions in the glitter mines, don’t you? Okay, we’re not idiots, we can buy the men’s version — but what we save on soap goes down the drain in the feminine hygiene aisle. If you can afford sanitary products, you’ll pay the equivalent of two carats of Michael Hill’s finest over your lifetime. Many women can’t and have to DIY innovative solutions, such as staying home. Our grandmothers may have used rags but these days there’s very little absorbency in a cast-off polyamide bralette.
Who’s to blame? Marketers, price-gouging capitalists, us for not wanting a razor that looks like it escaped from the Soviet bloc, us for wanting to leave the house every day of the month.
Solution: Equalise the price of equivalent goods, take the GST off sanitary products and fund them entirely — at least for girls still at school, make pink glitter standard and make navy blue cost extra — although this would result in navy blue being marketed to women as this season’s pop of dullness.
Ban the van
There’s a litany of disaster-prevention rules for women. Don’t leave your drink unattended, hold your keys sticking out from your fingers like a budget Wolverine, if it’s after dark, try to not exist. Sometimes you hear a new one and you realise you’ve been unwittingly living on the edge this whole time. In America it’s standard female wisdom to not park too near a van. Now that you know this, sorry: it will form part of your daily risk assessment. You’ll second-guess that convenient park because of the sketchy Kombi with the painted-out windows in the next space. Excitingly, you won’t know if you’re being oppressed by actual risk, or just the presumed need for constant vigilance. Like the taco ad says, why not both? Would it help to know that the Volkswagen van actually is the traditional choice of serial killers as well as harmless surf dudes with festival hair? No?
Who’s to blame? Serial killers, victim-blaming fearmongering, Volkswagen, Trump probably.
Solution: Patrolled, well-lit, women-only car parks. Free shuttle services from bus stops. Actual adamantine knuckle implants so we have something sharper than keys to wield in an emergency.
Finding a seat
While everyone seems happy for women to spend extra dollars on pink razors, they’re less interested in us spending a penny. There are never enough women’s toilets, especially at event venues. Whatever’s happening onstage, in the Ladies it’s always a Game of Thrones. One of you acts as a human wedge holding the heavy outer door for a line stretching into the lobby; the rest of you stare glumly into a fluorescent-washed mirror. What is she doing in there? But we know what she’s doing because we’ve been her: cleaning up a ladymergency or fighting back angry tears trying to get her Spanx back up or just staring at the sanitary bin wondering why they thought cinnamon was an inoffensive scent. Who’s to blame? Architects, planners and budget-crunchers, whoever sets the length of intervals, the contortions it takes to get out of a playsuit in a tiny space where you want nothing you own to touch the floor, that damn third prosecco. Solution: Do away with disgusting urinals and encourage sitzplinken, the German art of men sitting to pee. A sitzplinker will not pee on the seat, so everyone’s home life will improve. Once men have to queue too, theatres will finally grasp the full importance of bums on seats.
Rompers are for romping
We live in a sun-kissed, open-air paradise, which is to say a UV incineration chamber. The official advice is to cover up, but the shops seem to think spaghetti straps are the only option for little girls. You’d never see a Thomas the Tank Engine top with a flirty Bardot neckline, but slap Peppa Pig on it and suddenly it needs a bare shoulder. Clothes should be fit for purpose, and the purpose of a toddler is to get dirty and say “No” a lot while climbing the wrong way up the slide. Who’s to blame? Designers who think making a baby look “feminine” is more important than sun safety, Peppa Pig.
Solution: Rash vests as daywear, way more lightweight long-sleeve shirts with syndicated characters on them, trustworthy children’s sunscreens without nanoparticles or endocrine disruptors, an end to Peppa Pig — please, by all that’s holy, make it stop.
On public transport the little spaces where our legs and arms reside are precious territory. For many of us it’s the only real estate we’ll ever come close to owning. Manspreading is the practice of letting your legs splay beyond the invisible — but very real — borders of your seat edge. It grotesquely implies that part of you needs the room but it states outright that you don’t care about the comfort of your neighbours. Your entire body is being a dick.
Who’s to blame? Anyone who thinks it’s bigger than it is. Even an SUV fits in a regular space. Vans too, even if no one wants to sit next to them.
Solution: Lasers. Fricking laser beams that slice the air into designated chunks. Breach the beam and set off an alarm, or possibly sear off a piece of flesh depending on the strictness of your public transport provider.