Tag Archives: feminism

On nice guys, hard truths, and the Friend Zone

I’m uncomfortable talking about Nice Guys of OKC, but I need to in order to discuss the Friend Zone. Nice Guys of OKC is a tumblr blog where the author posts snippets from men’s OKCupid profiles (along with their photographs) and humiliates them. She/he picks up on guys who say they’re ‘nice’, and can’t understand why they’ve been ‘friend-zoned’ by women. Men who say they’ll treat women right and love them and respect them and then answer questions like ‘do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved?’ with shitty answers like ‘yes.’


On adverts for the ladies

WOMEN! Do you want to buy some PRODUCTS? Well I’ve got something for you – yes, you. You can tell it’s for you because I’ve made it REALLY OBVIOUS by slapping words like ‘fresh‘ and ‘delicate’ all over my packaging and – if that’s not enough to penetrate your fresh, delicate brains – I’ve even painted it pink. Let’s talk sexism in marketing.

It’s like this other thing, but for girls!

Girlified versions of normal things make me spit rage. They stem from a recognition that some girls like X, coupled with an assumption that by golly! They’d like X even more if it came in a slightly smaller/pinker/healthier version.

I’m going to say this really clearly: girls like all kinds of shit. So do guys. You don’t have to limit yourself to an all-male market just because your product involves engines, red meat or RAM. Equally, if you want to make your product appeal to women, you don’t need to dress it up in spangles and call it ‘mini.’ Because the tables are turning, people, and not only will it actively turn a lot of women off your products, quite a few of us get justifiably annoyed and will write angry blog posts about your patronising ad copy.

A female-friendly mindset: sexism in marketing

My rage-sensors were alerted to this by a friend of mine who sent me the ad for STK London. In case you aren’t as eye-bleedingly cool as the people who came up with the name, STK means ‘steak’. It’s a steak house, but with a mind-boggling twist:

STK London boldly proclaims that it has a female-friendly mindset.

A what? Are other steakhouses actively barring women? Do they have large, angry sexists positioned outside the doors holding neon signs that say ‘no chicks’? If so, I could see why a ‘female-friendly’ mindset might help distinguish this restaurant from the competition, but no. Sadly, the ‘female-friendly mindset’ is summed up by this quote from their website:

STK offers small, medium and large cuts of meat, as well as naturally raised options and market fresh fish entrees.


We’re appealing to women who like steak by offering them a) smaller portions of steak b) slightly different types of steak and c) something that is not even fucking steak.

B is understandable (although I am struggling to work out why they think this ‘naturally raised’ options wouldn’t appeal to some men too), but a) and c)? You’ve got to be shitting me.

This isn’t a restaurant aimed at men or women. Initially confused, I wondered if it had been designed by confused male advertising executives who love steak but have never met any actual women.  They’re trying to create their ideal steak restaurant:  a sort of picture-book fantasy where women in skintight business attire munch sexily on tiny, feminine portions of ‘steakette’.

And then I saw their YouTube advert, and realised that I was spot on.

Buy my product now, there’s a good girl

And so neatly onto my second example: Lord Sugar, (a British businessman who used to sell a brand of computer you’ve never heard of) sent a tweet this week that’s surely going to have 1950s secretaries giggling into their typewriters:

Unfortunately for Lord Sugar, women didn’t take too kindly to his suggestion that they celebrate Christmas by persuading their bosses to buy them nail files. Sugar himself is probably wondering if they’re all on their blahddy periods or something, so for the record here’s what’s wrong with that tweet:

– it’s incredibly patronising. Assuming that someone’s boss would buy them a nail file for a job well done implies that the job itself is of incredibly low value. Think ‘assistant’ rather than ‘boss.’

– the product itself has been ‘girlified’. Nail files? They’re for women, so let’s paint them pink. Forgetting, of course, that many men file their nails too. Apart from being patronising and sexist, it’s a marketing technique that risks alienating vast numbers of people (i.e. men who file their nails) so that they won’t end up buying the product.

‘Limiting the market just to women’ is a terrible business idea. A TERRIBLE one. How do I know this? Well, it was exactly the reason Lord Sugar himself gave for the failure of the losing team on last week’s Junior Apprentice.

The hapless teenagers had to pitch a cookbook to booksellers. One team decided to go with a cookbook ‘for professional women.’ In a scene I rather hope a lot of ad professionals watched, every single member of the market research group said ‘why just women? Surely men like food too?’ But apparently not.

The team, against all advice to the contrary, decided that Professional Women were a niche market that needed to be targeted with something radically different. Something that only women like. Clearly taking a leaf out of STK London’s book, the food they selected for these women was ‘quick, fresh and healthy’.

I won’t go into the details, and I don’t want to pick on these poor youngsters – they’re clearly doing what they see ad execs and marketing people and ALAN FUCKING SUGAR doing all the bloody time.

The point I’m making is that Lord Sugar shitcanned them. He criticised a bunch of 17-year-olds for making patronising assumptions that even fully-paid-up restaurant marketing executives make. Moreover, a mistake that he made himself just one week later by tweeting “Hey ladies, get your generous bosses to give you a pink nail file as a Christmas bonus.”

I won’t buy your shit just because you painted it pink

Marketers, you’re way better than this, you know that? There have been some masterpieces of advertising created in the last 5-10 years. Ads can make us laugh, cry, reminisce, and – yes – more often than not open our fucking wallets.

But you don’t need to stoop to this level. You don’t need to patronise women and imply that we’re incapable of enjoying certain things unless they’ve been packaged for us, labelled ‘fresh’ and covered in sparkly glitter. Sure, some people might want pink iPod nanos or lilac convertibles, so make ’em if you want to, just don’t label it the ‘ladies version’. You’ll piss off a lot of ladies, and more than a few pink-loving men.

You need to become more varied, more interesting and more inclusive. But even if you can’t reach these lofty heights, can you at least try to be better than a bunch of terrified teenagers on The Apprentice?

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On deal breakers

Huffington Post this week has scraped right through the bottom of the internet barrel, and presented us with two photographic galleries of relationship ‘deal-breakers’. These are things which, if your new girl/boyfriend finds them in your flat, will mean an instant end to your relationship. Things deemed so important that people must eradicate them from their home at all costs lest they risk terrifying future partners.

For the record, and in the interests of full disclosure, here are some of mine:

Girlonthenet’s deal breakers

1. A signed photograph of Nadine Dorries.

2. A sofa smeared in fresh human excrement.

3. A well-thumbed copy of Neil Strauss’ hateful twat-manual ‘The Game’.

4. A bathroom cabinet filled with homeopathic remedies.

5. A severed human head.

With these in mind, I had a look through the HuffPo galleries, at the things they’d elevate to ‘deal breaker’ status. For the record, I’m expecting horror: racist literature, blood-splattered walls, cavepaintings drawn in one’s own faeces, etc.

Deal breakers for women

Here is a selection of HuffPo’s top ‘deal breakers’ for women – the things that, if found in a man’s apartment, would put them off for life.

1. An empty toilet roll tube. Because women, as well as being prolific urinators, are also incapable of asking you where you keep the spare loo roll.

2. A cheap Ikea coffee table. Because if you are poor and you cannot afford a nice antique coffee table, then you do not deserve coffee-cup relief. Put that cup on the fucking floor like the cheap, tasteless scumbag you are. You think I’m joking, but this is what the journo actually suggests.

3. Hair in the sink/dirty dishes/dirty sheets. These are all variations on a theme. Basically, gents, they’re telling you that all women will give a significant and powerful flying fuck about how clean your house is. Learn to de-scale a kettle or you will die alone.

4. Toothpaste in the sink. I might be alone in this, but my first thoughts were ‘what the crying FUCK is wrong with toothpaste?’ The journo kindly explains: “This is a total gross out.” What? Why? Toothpaste is a product designed to a) go in your mouth and b) make it clean. Describing it as a ‘gross-out’ displays levels of squeamishness that any sensible human would struggle to sustain.

5. No hand towel in the bathroom. That’s right – being unable to dry your hands after washing is not just an inconvenience, it is a DEAL BREAKER. If a woman has wet hands she categorically will not fuck you. As someone who has a) jeans and b) the initiative to dry my hands on my jeans should I ever find myself lacking a hand towel, this was the deal breaker for me, and the point at which I gave up on this particular gallery.

Luckily for me, you and no doubt the rest of civilisation, there was another gallery – one which evened out the balance by explaining the heinous and absolutely deal breaking crimes that women commit, as listed by the men who have broken deals because of them.

Deal breakers for men

1. Stuffed toys/blankets/dolls. Basically anything from your childhood: items from your childhood are liable to turn a man off. Burn them.

2. Pictures of your exes. Because the thought of you having ever been with another man is a turn-off so huge that no man could ever overcome it – DEAL BREAKER, remember?

3. Cats. Men clearly associate cats with bad things – spinsters, wicked witches, and Tom off of Tom and Jerry. Luckily, though, cats are the only pets mentioned, so feel free to choose from anything else in the animal kingdom. Personally I’m a big fan of snakes.

4. Nice cups. Because men will only drink things from either pint glasses or mugs, and will take any offer of beverages in a more delicate drinking receptacle as a slur on their masculinity. Remember this is not just a ‘nice to have’, it’s a DEAL BREAKER, so if you give a man coffee in a china cup, don’t be surprised if he hurls it on the carpet then storms out of your house screaming ‘I thought you were SERIOUS about this RELATIONSHIP.’

5. Tampons. And this was the point at which my head exploded, splurging gory mess all over the nice cups I keep on my cheap Ikea coffee table. I couldn’t even clean up the splurge, because when I went to the bathroom I realised I had neither hand towels nor toilet roll. So instead I just accepted that my flat would be permanently covered in blood. From now on, once every four weeks, I’ll have to wander my flat, menstruating mournfully, unable to staunch the flow with tampons in case men who love me feel a bit uncomfortable when they spot them lurking in the back of the bathroom cabinet.

I joke, of course. I am no more going to stop using tampons than I’m going to start regularly washing my sheets. But that’s not because I don’t care what men think, it’s because I am 100% confident that most people don’t actually see this stuff as a ‘deal breaker.’

It’s only a bit of fun, GOTN, you idiot

I don’t mind people playing up to stereotypes a bit to get a laugh. I don’t even mind people being a bit shallow sometimes and joking that they couldn’t possibly go out with someone who couldn’t pick their dirty pants up off the bedroom floor. But what I do object to is when lazy journos assume that humans are about seven bajillion times more shallow than we actually are.

I’m far more likely to have dirty bedsheets and a cheap Ikea coffee table than some of the guys I’ve fucked. I’ve got ex-boyfriends who will rant about my inability to clean the bathroom. I’ve fucked guys who’ve had piles of dirty washing up, plugholes that look like they need to be shaved, and – on occasion – no fucking bedsheets whatsoever. And yet none of these things has ever been a ‘deal breaker’ – for me or for my open-minded shags.

We humans are a beautifully disgusting collection of weirdos, so why are we still reading lazy jokes that make us all look like predictable, automated arseholes?

Most people will see these things for what they are – there probably won’t be men reading it thinking ‘oh God, that’s me. I never have hand towels available, it’s no wonder I’m so miserable and alone.’ But there will be women whose friends joke that they need to ditch their cats before they can find a boyfriend. There’ll be girls who feel like they should buy nice cups and soft furnishings if they’re going to be a ‘proper’ grown-up. There’ll be boys who have a weird discomfort around tampons despite the fact that they’re actually – you know – a pretty fucking normal thing to have lying around the house.

Men are filthy, indolent slobs and women are collectors of pretty, homely things. Girls hate it when guys don’t put the toilet seat down, and guys hate it when girls menstruate. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Boys are blue, girls are pink. 

It’s a joke, I get it. It’s just a really fucking old one.

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On putting dicks on page three

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s been renewed hoo-ha recently about the presence of tits on page three.

Some people are campaigning against it, and I can see why. It’s a bloody odd thing for a newspaper to print, it makes the assumption that there are vast armies of men who won’t buy newspapers unless there’s something in there to give them an erection, and it perpetrates the myth that women are sexual only in so much as they have lovely tits to look at.

On the other hand some people I greatly respect and admire have denounced the campaign, saying that – among other things – there are worrying tendencies to slut shame the young women who pose topless, and what the fuck is wrong with naked bodies anyway?

All good points – there’s clearly a problem in here somewhere. I’m going to say at this point that I personally hate bans. While it’s clearly necessary to outlaw certain things, banning can occasionally prove to be the last resort of the unimaginative arsehole. There are often better solutions that don’t involve curtailing people’s behaviour.

So I’m not going to suggest that we ban the tits. I’m going to suggest that we add to them, by including dicks on page three as well.

The page three problem

The main problem with page three, and the reason that people want to ban it, is that it encourages us to view women as sexual objects. On the other hand, as Hayley Stevens argues, perhaps this argument itself is perpetrating negative attitudes – that you’re useless to society if you take your clothes off, that you being naked betrays other women, etc.

Both of these issues are focused on women. Let’s be clear – no one I’ve read has suggested that seeing a naked man will send all women into a misandric, frothing, abusive frenzy. Or that men being photographed taking their clothes off might be betraying the brotherhood.

So why is it specifically naked women that are the problem? It surely can’t be that, as well as having tits, women also have magical and hidden society-altering powers that are involuntarily activated as soon as they take their tops off. No – it’s not that women are somehow different, it’s that they’re the only bloody ones we see naked.

A parade of naked men

I’m not saying that we never see naked men. You only need to look at covers of things such as Attitude to get a really good see of a naked man. Occasionally I’ll spend upwards of two minutes in WH Smith seeing the naked men, with a thin string of drool running down my chin.

But the reason I’ll dwell on these pictures is because they’re a special treat.

Naked men are not a part of our culture in the same way that naked women are. Their dicks don’t come out on saucy postcards, they are less frequently employed as strippers, in films their good bits are usually hidden from the camera, and in posters and advertisements their cocks are usually well and truly covered. There are a few notable exceptions, such as the famous David Beckham package, which caused an appropriately well-endowed storm at the time, but it’s exceptional because it’s rare. As one who looks out for it on an almost constant basis, I can assure you that male nudity is disproportionately scarce. Most importantly, it’s completely absent from page three.

Solution: put dicks on page three

So, here’s my proposal, and it’s a disappointingly simple one, motivated in equal parts by my insatiable horniness and my sense of fair play: put cocks on page three. In fact not just the cocks – the whole body. Stick naked men on page three too.

I’m unlikely to open The Sun, but if I did I’d like to see Tony, 23, from Bradford telling me that although GDP has dropped by 0.5% he feels reassured that the Treasury has a plan for recovery. And more importantly, I could look at his dick. A nice, long, thick, photogenic dick. Not erect, of course, it’s a family paper.

You could alternate the days, with a man one day and a woman the next or even – just to blow everyone’s minds – put male and female models next to each other in the same picture. It would at least give the whole charade some semblance of realism. After all, men and women are often naked together, but it’s bloody unusual for a lone girl to spontaneously get her baps out while standing awkwardly next to a rose bush.

Should we ban tits on page three?

Look, I know it sounds facetious, and I realise that I’m a horrible coward for ducking controversy and not putting a tick in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ box, but I’m not entirely sure I understand the question yet.

Do I object to newspapers publishing naked people? Not if they’re sold responsibly. Do I object to tits in papers? Maybe – but not because I object to tits, I object to inequality.

Right now I think it’s great that we’re having this discussion, and it’s important that people are aware of why this is causing such a stink. Whether you think it’s OK or not, I hope you’d agree that we should definitely be talking about it. Because when national newspapers dedicate an entire page just to a pert-breasted Tanya, 19, from Birmingham, not even mentioning it would be fucking odd indeed.

We need to think about this. We need to think about why we might object to nakedness in papers, and what we think about women, and whether we’d be having this discussion at all if the sexes were reversed. Why when it comes to sexual content women are rarely seen as the consumers instead of the consumed. Whether printing tits actually does anything to increase newspaper sales. Whether as a nation we’re demeaned, repressed, over-sexualised, or all of the above.

I know I've used this picture before but it's the closest I could find to a page three pose. Just imagine I'm doing a cheesy grin out of shot. It’s a thorny issue indeed. Girlonthenet, 28, from London, says: “I don’t know much about the objectification of women, but how about you print some lovely dicks for me to look at while I mull it over?”

If you would like to join my campaign, please express your vigorous support in the comments below, or tweet/facebook this blog to make it clear to your friends just how much you like equality and/or cock.

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On Essex girls

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.