“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Coco Chanel

Photo, Olivia Bee

The other day I posted a review of Alex Winston‘s Bristol show. Before I launched into the review, I had a little natter with myself about girl power and how as a younger one, I rejected the Spice Girls in favour of Blur, beads and army green cotton jackets. I also stated that there is a quiet but wonderful feminine bunch that have been emerging and gaining strength. Since then I have been reading more about women who are thinking the same as I, and been very interested in some of the frankly ridiculous statements that have come from the mouths of the capitalist, mainstream heads.

Firstly, I would like to vindicate my own opinion that the Spice Girls were in reality not inspirational or empowering, just silly, with the use of someone who has actually published a real book on being a woman (How To Be A Woman, published by Ebury Press). Caitlin Moran says in an interview with The Observer:

“I said this jokingly but I think it’s true: that it was the Spice Girls who messed it all up. I was a teenage girl during Britpop, and you watch the footage of early Blur, and they’re all in Doc Martens and jeans and no make-up, and there’s this brilliant, puppyish, I’m just being a human being kind of vibe. Then the Spice Girls come along and its like Adam and Even eating the apple of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. And obviously the appropriating of the phrase “girl power”, which at that point overrode any notion of feminism, and which was a phrase that meant absolutely nothing apart from being friends with your girlfriends. Is that it?”

Admittedly, hot ladies existed way before the Spice Girls (subjective), Blondie, Madonna wriggling around (subjective), Kylie Minogue. However, they possessed a strength and intelligence in their performance that was far more dominant than their outfits and vague ‘message’. When I watch Blondie videos, it is her confidence that shines through and makes me want to ‘be’ her, writhing around in hot pants is not confidence is it? And at what point do you get the level when you are confident ENOUGH to ever do this? Prior to the – Spice Girls, females could saunter down the street, smile and hold their head high couldn’t they? With their DMs and adventurous spirt laid bare. They still can now.

Blondie:

Let’s not forget that the Spice Girls were formed by Simon Fuller. What a perfect human to force girls into a box. Perhaps you could buy this Spice Girls flask and by the power of osmosis, you too will become your chosen popstar! I read an article the other week on how girls wearing pink is not traditional, nor a natural choice for girls. Pink used to be for boys, alluding to strength and bravery, whilst blue was actually for girls, with its biblical connotations of Mary and gentleness. But old Fuller et al squashed us girls into more refined boxes than just pink or not pink. Are you ginger, sporty, posh, scary or cute and blonde? Hurrah, look we have a set out style, annoying sayings and magazines for thou! £££££

But as I said, I think there has been a feminist backlash. However, as Caitlin Moran says in the same interview, it is not necessary to assume we’re all mini Germaine Greers:

“I don’t come from anti-intellectual viewpoint: people from Oxbridge turn me on. But I have none of those words, and I haven’t read those books. I come from pop culture, and I wanted it to be like rock ‘n’ roll. I wanted someone to shout “I’m a feminist! It’s really fun! Let’s all go and be feminists in the pub!

“If women just turned around and were honest and said I don’t give a s**t, I’m not playing – I don’t care if I’ve got blackhead, I don’t care if my arse is a bit spongy, I have not got time for you, you ridiculous capitalist construct, then the whole game would be f****d overnight.”

What I think those debating these subjects need to consider, is that many women actually are NOT vejazzling themselves, or terrified by porn, nor are we terrified that our potential little girls will be seized by Primark, dance like Rihanna and try to get inside an egg like Gaga. Back in the 90s, as soon as the Spice Girls came out, you made your decision. Did you want to spend your teen life in Claire’s Accessories or did you want to camp out with the skater boys? We have bright minds, ambition and respect for ourselves. Thanks.

Another thing that I find very bizarre, is the continued wonder over funny women. When women like Jessica Hynes, Julia Davis, Tina Fey, Miranda Hart and Josie Long have been HILARIOUS for years. Yet, apparently when Bridesmaids came out earlier this year and made $100 million in the USA, there was gender surprise, described as a ‘cultural phenomenon’ by the Huffington Post.’Producer Judd Apatow was the one who foresaw this revolution, standing at the top of the cultural mountain, he saw those funny women riding their horses in the funny section. He said:

“I always hoped that there was this huge neglected audience out there hoping someone would start making movies for them. I am so excited I was not imagining things. Hopefully this will lead to a lot more movies being made starring funny women.”

What an awful and ignorant comment. As Viv Groskop said in her Guardian piece: “‘This support of “funny women” feels at once reassuringly hopeful and bizarrely patronising.” Surely it is just a funny film? Can it not be marketed as a funny film? Apparently not.Groskop continues:

“The message on the Bridesmaids poster reads: “Chick flicks don’t have to suck.” It certainly lives up to that claim. But it is not really a chick flick or a female ensemble piece. It’s a comedy that happens to have a lot of women in the cast. Real progress? The day producers such as Apatow stop thinking about men and women and just do funny. Or maybe when there’s a female Judd Apatow. Sorry – crazy – premenstrual suggestion.”

Funny women/women who are funny/funny people/people who are funny:

Quick Note: I watched a film that does actually laugh (a bit) at the popstars/aging recently, I Could Never Be Your Woman. Quite strange, scored a six average with many of the critics. Refreshing (yet contradictory) for a Hollywood. But still…

It’s like those that are supposed to be in touch and have their fingers totally and resolutely on that pulse, have totally missed the beat. Amongst friendship groups – my contemporaries/friends/colleagues, I don’t think there is a sexism issue. Little squabbles, of course, and certainly I enjoy spending time with just the girls, as Charlie does, just the boys, but issues? No. Plus we recognise our differences as girls and boys, but that doesn’t mean one dominates the other, or one is less valuable. Miranda Hart said in a recent interview in the Observer Magazine: “I’ve never really felt like I’m a woman struggling in a man’s world.” Things seem to have been blown out of proportion in mainstream media/music/TV/Newsnight. Of course sexism does still exist – and vibrantly in some areas – but the divide appears imposed and preempted in many respects.

Hart said in the same interview: “I absolutely don’t write for women – far, far from it. It’s not what I want to do. Some of the writers who have helped out at the beginning and end of the process, they’re all men, have suggested quite feminine subjects they want me to explore. And I’m always, simply, no. I don’t want to do diets, don’t want to. I just can’t do it.”

Why would Hart only write for women? We all know about women’s ‘issues’ and subjects ta. We don’t need things to be set out – ha! Look, girl subject! I don’t really want to try and laugh at our strengths and weaknesses – it’s really boring now. If something happens that coincidentally makes us feel emotional and hormonal or whatever, we can deal with it. We actually quite like being girls and sometimes, enjoy embracing the dramatic melancholy angst.

All girls should know that confidence is key. They will not ever get this from an enormous bag of [insert high street shop] items, but if they want to buy loads of tat, surely they can – just like other girls can trawl the markets for one of vintage buys and we can make that horrendous trip to IKEA. All the same, all consumerism, none of it will make you actually happy, HAPPY. I’ve gone through a whole bunch of phases growing up and I’m positive I am going through some form of stage now, but if you have good people around you and the ability to NOT take things too seriously, then all power to YOU.

As Caitlin Moran said:
“I’ve learnt that you tend to make a div of yourself when you’re trying to cover up the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing. And that simply saying I don’t know what I’m doing is a massive relief. It’s best of you’re polite. Try to be cheerful and laugh at stuff. But that’s general advice for humanity.”

To be absolutely honest, I’m quite pleased that the silly people who sit wherever they sit, don’t know about the women who are actually very happy with themselves. They dance in the kitchen, sing along to music they love, wear nice, little outfits, flick their hair as they talk on the phone and enjoy creative little outlets. I’m not sticking them in a box, for the box would be enormous and astoundingly varied. But they’re who I am writing for.

Lionheart Magazine.

Anna Calvi – good for singing to:

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