Women-only swimming sessions are a bit like being at Whites’ or the Garrick club only with a lot more moving and shaking. Photo: Getty
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Rumbled! What life for women is really like

With a lifetime of free drinks, doors held open and watching Loose Women, women have got it made. Oh wait, no.

Recently on Twitter I was distracted by the mention of Loose Women. It’s hard not to be. Every feminist worships at the altar of this lunchtime show in which ALL the regular panel members are WOMEN. I haven’t watched it in years but I know that, whenever I’m in doubt as to whether the feminist vision has been realised, I think of Loose Women and know that all’s well in the world. That Carol who was once married to Chris Evans, and the one who played thingy in Coronation Street, and the singer my dad liked on Cruise Ship — don’t worry, sisters, whatever the problem, they’ll have your back.  

Of course, I shouldn’t be too open about this. After all, as a feminist, it’s important to have something to moan about, otherwise where would we be? Hence I like to pretend that, in a world in which unequal pay, unequal access to education, a lack of reproductive choices, political non-representation, FGM, rape culture, slut-shaming, violence against women etc. etc. remain rife, Loose Women isn’t enough. Thus, along with all other feminists, I spend my time on twitter trolling men’s rights activists telling them that if the world was really fair, we wouldn’t have Top Gear.

Anyhow, this morning I saw someone tweet that true equality would mean having Loose Men. Imagine! So I tweeted back to say I’d be happy to see this, providing men got to experience all the other great things women did. This was what I got in response:

Doors held open, drinks bought, opp sex lusting after me, boom! Sounds like paradise!

Damn! I’d been rumbled. That’s the trouble with men’s rights activists — they know how ace women’s lives really are. They know we’re pretending all the other stuff gets to us.

Hence, in a one-off, 100 per cent honest post, I’ve decided to come clean about just how great things are. Just to say sorry. Yes, MRAs, you were right all along. This really is a whining contest and you really are winning. Here’s why:

Doors held open

You would not believe how much energy and vitality you have when you’re saved from the daily drudgery of door-opening. Admittedly women still have to open doors if they’re on their own. Or in the ladies’. And actually I hold open doors myself, for men or women. But still, when I look at a man, I don’t see a person; I see a potential door opener (and closer). It’s rare that I check this privilege, but at least I’m doing it now.

Drinks bought

Over the course of my life, men have bought me enough drinks to make the pay gap, unpaid domestic labour, pension poverty etc look like small change. In drink terms, at least, I am paid several times more than any man on earth. I actually have a Taboo and lemonade lake in my back garden, which I’ve been filling gradually ever since a sixth form social in 1991. I’m sorry, men. But cheers.

Men lusting after us

Women don’t lust after men. Not that we’re frigid. We’re just not slags, either. Or something. Anyhow, we’re saved all the effort of this lusting by men doing it instead. It’s great. Some of them are so forthcoming, too, never taking no for an answer. Why be an active sexual agent when there are men there to do all the hard work for you? Just sit back and be an object, ladies. Result!

Ladies’ Nights and women-only swimming sessions

Ladies’ Nights might be fucking grim, but they’re free for us girls, right? So add that to the scoreboard! As for women-only swimming sessions — well, men, if you’re curious, I’d say they’re a bit like being at Whites’ or the Garrick club only with a lot more moving and shaking (especially when towelling off).

Female primary teachers

Or Pedagogical Fembot X09, to give them their technical term. They’re not actual people, with an interest in teaching all children and the right to be respected, regardless of gender. They’re robots. We, the feminists, programmed them to destroy the self-esteem of little boys simply by telling them to do things while looking female. It’s incredibly powerful and yes, we’re proud of it. It’s working. It’s been even more successful than that time we made sure the dog in the Oxford Reading Tree scheme was called Floppy, just to make all dads reading to their sons feel just that little bit emasculated.

Thelma and Louise

A film in which a woman kills a man who’s trying to rape her mate. The two women run off together. One of them shags Brad Pitt and he steals their money. Then they die. Get that, men? You’d never get that the other way round, would you? Feminist classic (although obviously not as gripping as Loose Women).

That is a one small taster of how privileged we women are. And I’ve not even got onto pink cancer stuff, binmen, Diet Coke Break ads, the fact that we are all white, middle-class, cis and heterosexual (so never suffer in the way that, say, the “white working-class” do – ‘cause they’re all men! Ha!). Being a woman is bloody ace, I tell you.

And on that note I’m off to have a dip in my Taboo and lemonade lake.

This post originally appeared on Glosswitch's blog and is crossposted here with her permission

Glosswitch is a feminist mother of three who works in publishing.

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The dog at the end of the lead may be small, but in fact what I’m walking is a hound of love

There is a new, hairy face in the Hovel.

There is a new, hairy face in the Hovel. I seem to have become a temporary co-owner of an enthusiastic Chorkie. A Chorkie, in case you’re not quite up to speed with your canine crossbreeds, is a mixture of a chihuahua and a Yorkshire Terrier, and while my friend K— busies herself elsewhere I am looking after this hound.

This falls squarely into the category of Things I Never Thought I’d Do. I’m a cat person, taking my cue from their idleness, cruelty and beauty. Dogs, with their loyalty, their enthusiasm and their barking, are all a little too much for me, even after the first drink of the day. But the dog is here, and I am in loco parentis, and it is up to me to make sure that she is looked after and entertained, and that there is no repetition of the unfortunate accident that occurred outside my housemate’s room, and which needed several tissues and a little poo baggie to make good.

As it is, the dog thinks I am the bee’s knees. To give you an idea of how beeskneesian it finds me, it is licking my feet as I write. “All right,” I feel like saying to her, “you don’t have to go that far.”

But it’s quite nice to be worshipped like this, I have decided. She has also fallen in love with the Hovel, and literally writhes with delight at the stinky cushions on the sofa. Named after Trude Fleischmann, the lesbian erotic photographer of the Twenties, Thirties and Forties, she has decided, with admirable open-mindedness, that I am the Leader of the Pack. When I take the lead, K— gets a little vexed.

“She’s walking on a loose lead, with you,” K— says. “She never does that when I’m walking her.” I don’t even know what that means, until I have a think and work it out.

“She’s also walking to heel with you,” K— adds, and once again I have to join a couple of mental dots before the mists part. It would appear that when it comes to dogs, I have a natural competence and authority, qualities I had never, not even in my most deranged flights of self-love, considered myself to possess in any measurable quantity at all.

And golly, does having a dog change the relationship the British urban flâneur has with the rest of society. The British, especially those living south of Watford, and above all those in London, do not recognise other people’s existence unless they want to buy something off them or stop them standing on the left of the sodding escalator, you idiot. This all changes when you have a dog with you. You are now fair game for any dog-fancier to come up to you and ask the most personal questions about the dog’s history and genealogy. They don’t even have to have a dog of their own; but if you do, you are obliged by law to stop and exchange dog facts.

My knowledge of dog facts is scant, extending not much further beyond them having a leg at each corner and chasing squirrels, so I leave the talking to K—, who, being a friendly sort who could probably talk dog all day long if pressed, is quite happy to do that. I look meanwhile in a kind of blank wonder at whichever brand of dog we’ve just encountered, and marvel not only at the incredible diversity of dog that abounds in the world, but at a realisation that had hitherto escaped me: almost half of London seems to have one.

And here’s the really interesting thing. When I have the leash, the city looks at me another way. And, specifically, the young women of the city. Having reached the age when one ceases to be visible to any member of the opposite sex under 30, I find, all of a sudden, that I exist again. Women of improbable beauty look at Trude, who looks far more Yorkie than chihuahua, apart from when she does that thing with the ears, and then look at me, and smile unguardedly and unironically, signalling to me that they have decided I am a Good Thing and would, were their schedules not preventing them, like to chat and get to know me and the dog a bit better.

I wonder at first if I am imagining this. I mention it to K—.

“Oh yes,” she says, “it’s a thing. My friend P-J regularly borrows her when he wants to get laid. He reckons he’s had about 12 shags thanks to her in the last six months. The problems only arise when they come back again and notice the dog isn’t there.”

I do the maths. Twelve in six months! That’s one a fortnight. An idea begins to form in my mind. I suppose you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out what it is. But no. I couldn’t. Could I?

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 28 April 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The new fascism