This weekend, the Guardian published ‘A letter to my friends with children’ from a childfree woman who is sad that she sees less of the women she loves when they have children. “Each time one of my female friends has a baby, our friendship changes,” she explained, and a few parents I followed on Twitter understandably rolled their eyes and got a bit annoyed.
I almost didn’t publish this blog post, because I wondered if it was a bit too harsh. It’s sat in my drafts for a while, getting edited and tweaked in an attempt to soften some of the blows. But this morning I read an article in Metro about men refusing to believe the evidence of women’s experience, and I figured ‘fuck it: why not?’ Let’s talk about Schroedinger’s Twat.
“British scientists have unveiled a new wristband which can tell what sort of mood you’re in. Men are especially excited about it as they hope to finally gain an insight into what a woman means when she says she’s ‘fine’.”
– Opening joke from Breaking the News, 5th July 2019
There’s a common trope that when a woman says ‘I’m fine’ actually she’s fuming, and it’s someone’s job (usually her partner’s) to solve the puzzle and find out what’s actually wrong before everything explodes in a shower of icky female emotions. It’s a fun game, right straight lads? Having to guess what your partner actually means when she says ‘I’m fine’? Haha women are so mysterious, and men will never be able to figure us out!
I have two questions for you. First one: if there was a dodgy step on the staircase in your house, how long would it take you to fix it? Let’s say that the step itself is mostly irritating, but occasionally dangerous. You have to remember to jump over it every time you go up or down stairs, but sometimes you forget and your foot just plunges straight through, causing you to twist your ankle, or worse. When close friends and lovers come round to visit you, they often get trapped by your dodgy step, then extract themselves and help you patch it up. Most of them recommend you call a carpenter. So, first question is: how long would it take you to get it fixed? Question two: how’s your mental health lately?
I’m not the kind of woman you’d describe as ‘petite.’ Or ‘dainty’ or ‘pretty’ or ‘feminine.’ In fact, I’m a little bit sensitive to the idea of being ‘feminine’, and any suggestion from helpful friends and family if they recommend I get my hair cut more often or try on a pretty dress: it’s not just that I don’t want to be feminine, it’s that I truly don’t think that I can. What came first: my refusal to perform femininity, or the knowledge that I’ll never be able to?