Dumbed Down

pic fem times

Whoa! What is it we have here then? You see, it might not have escaped your notice, kraken-lovers, that amongst all of the social idiocies that I write about sexism and the need for feminism is right up there with how often David Cameron has boffed one off over one of Boris Johnson’s digestives in an Etonian dormitory. Since Kraken Junior tore her way through my nuptial nook I’ve realised just how grim life is out there for a young girl. I’ve also realised that there are a lot of lobe-shattering opinions about how we deal with it and none has made me choke on my own tongue more than those of Body Gossip’s Natasha Devon, a campaigner who thinks that women should dumb down (her words) their fight for equality. Her latest explanation of her theory was gifted to the world via the cracking Feminist Times. You can read it here and, in an effort to claw back your dignity once you have, this is my response:

“We (feminists) failed to come up with a cohesive agenda we could all agree on. Hence the weighty issue of domestic violence somehow ranking lower in the public sphere than whether or not a woman chooses to wax her pubic hair as a valid feminist debate.”

Go on, girls, read that again. That’s right, it’s saying that we women allegedly care more about our collective conjugal thatch than we do about whether we get beaten to death by a partner simply because we just can’t stop bickering. Well, thanks Natasha, not just for the victim blaming but for writing the influence of men out of the domestic, social and sexual violence equation altogether. It’s the equivalent of saying that if only the badgers had only stopped to think about what diseases they chose to pick up the flea-bitten moss-snufflers wouldn’t have to be culled. If domestic violence is really ranked lower than… Jesus, I don’t seriously need to explain this stuff, do I?

“The word ‘misogyny’ was being chucked about like it was going out of fashion – on Twitter, in boardrooms, down the pub.”

No, the word ‘misogyny’ doesn’t get “chucked about” like it is going OUT of fashion. It gets “chucked about” because misogyny is IN fashion, like bold prints and goji berries. Believe me, I’d rather watch a starving mongrel chew on my left tit than to have to keep using the M-word but I use it because it is rampaging across the nation and I’m calling it out for what it is. Perhaps we should stop scaring the ludicrously delicate horses by calling misogyny ‘kiwi fruit’ or ‘love marble’ while whispering the words from behind our quivering fans.

“Female counterparts stomp around demanding to be treated with R-E-S-P-E-C-T but unable when questioned to articulate what form this respect should take.”

They do? Well from where I am gawping at this article in a head-shaking state of bewilderment I have never seen so much articulation about how women want to be treated. Instead of seeing isolated clusters of women in a fragmented nation I see entire movements of intelligent, decisive, determined, bold, inspiring women in the form of the No More Page Three campaign, The Everyday Sexism Project, Ending Victimisation and the very site that ran this article in the first place, Feminist Times. From Suzanne Moore and India Knight to Caitlin Moran and Eleanor Mills every paper has an accomplished columnist who writes about feminism, whether you agree with them or not, and every twitter feed has a woman describing how she’d prefer to be treated. If none of this makes sense to Natasha I suggest the problem lies with her skills of interpretation, not the women who are so capable of speaking their own minds.

“Furthering female empowerment will involve compromise.”


“I’d rather encourage page 3 to use a wider range of shapes, sizes and races than bark more and more outlandish, misanthropic reasoning for its banning in the direction of an institution that, for its own reasons, loves it and is adamant it should remain.”

Ok, Ok, hold the fuck on. No really, hold on because I’m writing this while breathing into a brown paper bag. So Natasha isn’t bothered about children being shown highly sexualised images of women in a family newspaper, as long as those pictures include size 18 hips, 78 year olds and Somali models. Please tell me that this part of the article is a spoof because it’s like the Spinal Tap of women’s rights and it’s been turned up to 11. Does Natasha not understand that her need to campaign on body image is partly because page 3 tells the nation how women ‘should’ look? Or that the No More Page Three campaign’s 188,000 signatories genuinely don’t give a shit about what a model looks like as long as she’s not suggestively thrusting her tits at their children? Or that accepting that some men love page 3, and we should therefore not threaten it, is like saying that some men love feeling up women on the Tube so we should not threaten them either? Or that women not wanting to sit on a bus or in a cafe without being forced to look at tit-pics is outlandish? In fact, I’m increasingly at a loss as to why this article appeared in The Feminist Times at all when it surely would have been better placed in Razzle.

“I would rather dumb down my opinion on a body image matter to bring it to the four-million strong audience of This Morning that write in a broadsheet like The Guardian…”

And there’s the money shot: the term ‘dumb down’. That’s right, because the women who watch show likes This Morning are so hard of thinking that they need Natasha to speak slowly, clearly and in one-syllable words about the issues that affect them every day of their lives. Way to go in supporting women. As if we didn’t have a hard enough job convincing the male dominated world that women can cut it just as well as men, a woman comes along to tell that world that we need the Janet and John version of feminism mouthed at us to help us understand why we keep shaving our own fucking legs.

“Sometimes our propensity for being offended has to be put aside for the greater good. I view the raising of £8 million for breast cancer research through the taking of make-up-less selfies, for example, as positive.”

Well, that’s the argument The Sun uses to continue its Check ‘Em Tuesdays campaign where it hides behind the skirts of breast cancer to keep printing pictures of naked women. And as I wrote right here in another inarticulate blog post, I can think of no reason why women need to be thrown under the bus of inequality in order to save other women. As desperate as I may be to kick female cancers up the arse I have no intention of sacrificing the sexual safety and social progress of myself, my mother, my daughter and my female friends to do it. When was the last time you saw men agreeing to not be taken seriously in the boardroom in an effort to end testicular cancer? Never. Yet Natasha thinks it’s not just OK for women to do this but that it is their social duty to do it too. And there I was thinking I could be cancer free and a respected member of the Western world. At. The. Same Time. Will I ever learn?

“I entered into a dialogue with the people who work at The Sun Woman’s desk and found them just as passionately enthusiastic about bringing a healthy, diverse message on the subject of female beauty as I am. Now I have the opportunity to work with them to bring that message to their 6 million readers.”

Yup, they are the same women who agree to work for a paper that prints page 3. And if that’s how you want to pay the mortgage, go! Be happy! Godspeed! Just don’t do it under the guise of improving the life of the nation’s women, not unless you think being asked to flash your tits by a man waving The Sun at a set of traffic lights is a social development on a par with the removal of workhouses. As a freelance journalist there are two newspapers I refuse to write for and those are The Sun and the Daily Mail, specifically because I have no intention in joining them in their degradation of women. Whatever Natasha gets paid to skip happily through the park while hand in hand with the newspaper that tells women they’re only worth their tits, I really do hope the money is worth it.

“A movement chock-full of women…is being eclipsed by a militant minority who care not a jot about the day-to-day life of the average women in the UK and simply want to sound off.”

Well I’m an average women living a day-to-day life in the UK and you want to know why I sound off? Because my six year old Kraken Junior is now facing the same bleak challenges as a young girl that I faced 42 years ago. When it comes to change I am shit out of patience, although how this makes me a militant I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it’s because, as a woman, I’m supposed to be demure instead. Anyway, I’m sure the suffragettes would have loved to hear about how militancy doesn’t get women anywhere. Lobbing themselves under horses, indeed. If only Natasha had been there to explain how women should have simply swished their hems in a vaguely irritated (but not to the point of attracting attention) kind of way instead. I mean, had those brave and indomitable women taken her advice we could be all of one step closer to leaving the kitchen by now.

“We therefore need to work together to make that environment more conducive to allowing genuine freedom of choice.”

Sadly, it is only in the third-but-one sentence from the end of the article that Natasha starts making sense. In fact, I agree that we need to work together. I know! Steady yourselves! The only problem is that if we work together in the way that Natasha wants us to we won’t experience freedom of choice for another fifteen generations. Well, you may have guessed this but I’m not willing to wait and neither are all the other articulate feminists I know. Natasha suggests we use a spoonful of sugar to help the world understand feminism. I suggest we use the strength, determination, ambition and intelligence that lies within every one of us. I believe in the power of women. It’s time that Natasha did too.

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6 Responses to Dumbed Down

  1. Marianne says:

    Actually the selfie money wasn’t all to breast cancer research – most people donated to Cancer Research UK, who are using it to fund clinical trials – again not specifically in breast cancer.


  2. Please don’t breathe into a paper bag. It’s no longer recommended. See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/health/13real.html?_r=0, for example.

  3. steph says:

    Wow. Words fail me. Just RAGE

  4. Sarah says:

    I find it hilarious is that Natasha’s article starts by talking about how sad it is that feminists are all telling each other off for somehow doing feminism wrong, and then goes on to tell us how to be *real* feminists, which apparently involves being politer, nicer, calmer.

    I get really irritated by people who believe that in order to make a difference or to be ‘good’ feminism, that feminists have to be quiet and polite and calm.
    Just no. Angry people make waves. Hell, we’re talking about thousands of years of systematic inequality – I think we’re all allowed to be a little angry.

  5. Charley says:

    Yeah…this is fucking kick ass.

    Particularly the paragraph about hem swishing

    …I think I’m shit out of patience too

    Keep doing what you do!!

  6. Vicky says:

    Wow – your writing rocks. YOU for prime minister asap. Pls write more and more – I’m going to share it all. x

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