A quick question: just how hard can tweets such as the following fuck off out of my Twitter timeline for good?
“There are far scarier things on the loose in Essex than the escaped lion. We ran in terror from these beasts last night http://t.co/A86Tz3Hw“
The answer, I hope, is ‘very fucking hard indeed.’
There is (or, more realistically, there probably isn’t) a lion on the loose in Essex right now. The police are on the hunt and Twitter’s crawling with jokes about lions. I can cope with wardrobes and circuses and puns about ‘lion around’, but what I’m not particularly pleased with are the numerous jokes about how all Essex women are fake, ugly, desperate slags.
Haterz gotta hate
I know there are some shockingly awful people on the internet – one of the fantastic things about certain parts of it (Twitter for instance) is that you can pick and choose whether to follow them. I choose not to – I try and select people who are liberal, interesting and funny. In short: I follow people who aren’t cunts.
But unfortunately these people who aren’t cunts have massively let me down. In the last 24 hours or so I’ve seen numerous retweets of jokes like the one above. Hilarious descriptions of ‘beasts’ wandering nightclubs sprayed orange or side-splitting gags telling the police not to ‘vajazzle the pussy.’
These have been tweeted and retweeted by people I like. People who think they’re liberal. People who think they’re unjudgmental. People who sip lattes and worry about human rights and wonder what kind of political activism will have the biggest impact. Most pertinently, they’ve been retweeted by the sort of people who respect a woman’s right to bodily autonomy – to wear dungarees and a cardigan covered in soup stains if she feels like it, her right to not shave her armpits or have plastic surgery.
My problem is not with the jokes themselves – they’re annoying and cunty, sure. I’m the sort of girl who’ll twitch if people in pubs make reference to ‘2am slags’ or ‘the hot girl’s fat mate’, but I realise there’s not much point in tackling the arseholes who believe they’re mining a rich seam of comedy gold. My worry is that these jokes aren’t being made by arseholes I’m overhearing in a Wetherspoons, they’re being made by people I admire. People I usually think are funny. People who would previously have retweeted blogs I’ve written about self-confidence and body image.
Seriously, liberal people – feminists FFS – how fucking dare you do this now?
Vajazzle the fuck out of your cunt
I don’t want a vajazzle. I don’t want a spray tan. I don’t want extensions. I expect – because I am not a fucking idiot – that not all the women in Essex want these things either. But some of them do. And you don’t have to be from Essex either – quite a few women want to strut the streets wearing skimpy clothes and fake tan and padded bras and false eyelashes and a fuck of a lot of other stuff that liberal hipsters like me wouldn’t be seen dead in. And good on them.
If you want to agree with me that a woman has every right to not shave her fucking armpits, then you need to be consistent. You can’t support a woman’s right to physical autonomy if you subsequently mock and spit upon those who pick a look that you find unarousing or gross.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’, and why it was such a hateful programme. She pointed out that although they occasionally let goths and punk girls off the hook (because, apparently, they have a ‘unique style’) fortunately they do sort out the women who ‘just look like an awful mess.’ Because black lipstick and ripped fishnets is a ‘style’ but fake tan and hair extensions is ‘a mess.’
Sorry, but you don’t get to do that. You just don’t. If you’re going to champion women’s right to pick a ‘style’ and select clothes that they feel comfortable in – clothes that make them feel good and that they enjoy wearing – you can’t subsequently declare certain styles to be out of bounds.
Pick your sides, people.
I’m standing here in my scruffy jeans, with legs I haven’t shaved for a week and piercings you wouldn’t wear to a job interview, next to hot muscular girls in dungarees and boxer shorts, and all the other types of women there are. Some are wearing floral summer dresses and subtle, how-does-she-achieve-that-look makeup. There are punks and goths and hipsters and – yes – there are scantily-clad bleach-blonde women dolled up to go to a nightclub. I don’t care who you fancy, or who you identify with, because it’s not about that. It’s about having respect for people’s choices, even when those choices don’t fit your personal worldview.
You’re either with us or against us, but you can’t just be with some of us.
Update: The police have now called off the search for the lion. World reacts with a total lack of surprise.