Wednesday, 23 January 2013

In which I get my ranty pants on

I am an invisible, breastfeeding, hysterical, rape obsessed, feminazi who isn’t a “real” feminist, with a chip on my shoulder and a skewed body image.  At least I think that’s right.  It’s a bit hard to tell sometimes and frankly lately I am more than a little confused.  Come to think of it, I sound a bit like that hideous new Kia ad.  Currently I have no idea who or what I am because the media is sending me more mixed signals than a 23-year-old commitment-phobic guy.  I am clearly not a "woman of now", whatever the fuck that means.

There are articles telling me that I am apparently invisible because I am close to 50.  Yet today I have on a very basic summer dress (bought at daggy old Millers for $13. I know, right?  $13!  Bargain. High five!) and I got a wink in the street from a bloke, and an out and out perve from a young guy in a ute, so clearly I am not invisible (and not a covergirl either - a healthy size 16 with big curves).  And the fact that I actually felt really good about this appreciation (and not in a pathetically grateful way either, in an entirely deserved "yeah, I am looking pretty good today" kind of way) apparently in some quarters would also mark me out as not being a “real” feminist because apparently to be a real feminist you have to reject the patriarchy in ALL THE THINGS.  And I do not. So sue me, sisters.

I don’t deny that the superpower of invisibility certainly does creep up on a woman as she gets older but I can’t help but wonder if this latest reminder is just another media dig, because ladies, we need constant reminding that we are ageing don’t we, because if we should forget it then an entire massive industry breaks down and civilisation as we know it will grind to a halt.  And we can’t be having that. You're getting old, right? So don't you dare forget it!

I went searching for a picture of an invisible woman to illustrate this post and all I could find was this (using the search term "invisible woman")
Is it just me or does she not look particularly invisible?  Not just me?  Good.   

So then I went searching for a picture using the search term "middle-aged woman" and I hit paydirt.  Go on, do a Google image search using that term and you will see hundreds of pictures of gorgeous women who are not 25 or 30 or 35, possibly not even 40.  They are older and they are most certainly not invisible.  So just who is telling us that we are invisible in society?  I don't have any trouble getting served in shops, and if I do it is more likely because I am only 5’ 1” and not because of my age.  I have a spent a goodly portion of my adult life on tiptoes waving my hand in the air like an extra from the What About Me film clip so I am noticed in a crowded bar or shop. It's height, not age, that makes me hard to see!

Don't get me wrong, I know how to be invisible. I perfected that superpower some time ago. I simply go out in trakkies and a manky t-shirt, with unwashed, pulled-up hair and old trainers, I keep my head down and don't make eye contact with anyone and I create an aura of "don't even think about speaking to me". Very effective.  And when I don't feel like wearing the cloak of invisibility, I don't. And I don't do anything different (the clothing was a red herring!) other than to have my head up and make eye contact with people. I am a random smiler at people too.  This alone is a guarantee against invisibility if you're concerned that you may be disappearing from view.

Trust me, you're not and bugger the meedja who tells you that you are.

And breastfeeding.  TITS! What century are we living in that this is still even a thing discussed in the public square?  That a dinosaur (his own word) like David Koch on the execrable breakfast television show Sunrise should purse his lips in a prim little moue of disgust as he urges breastfeeding mothers to be discreet in 2013 says as much about who is on our television screens as it does about attitudes (speaking of outdated and irrelevant).   

Discreet is a funny word.  Like art, I believe discretion is entirely subjective.  One person's discretion is another’s flagrant flaunt.  I know that when I breastfed my son (from birth to 13 months), I often did so in public and every time I did, I tore my top off so I was entirely naked from the waist up and everyone around me was in no doubt whatsoever as to what I was doing.  In fact if people did not notice that I was breastfeeding, I would go right up to them and thrust my boobs and babe into their faces to make damned well sure that they did. 

No wait.  That never happened.  That never happens. That's the prude's fantasy.  No breastfeeding mother ever does that.  Yet men like David Koch, and women (oh yes, there are women who still hold the quaint view that breastfeeding is something to be hidden away, something to be just a little bit ashamed of) like Pru Goward tell women that they must "be discreet", whatever that means in their Little Johnny Howard 1950s utopian world.

Funny how boobs are so revered in our culture yet attach a baby to one and they suddenly become disgusting.  Wouldn’t Freud have a field day with that!

Discretion be buggered.  Breastfeed your babies anywhere and any time you need to.  You don't need anyone to tell you to 'be discreet'.  You need to tell them to STFU.

Yep, I think that pretty much covers it.  Any questions?